July 31, 2007
Top Tory Bloggers
Northern Ireland: Troops out as operation ends - Telegraph
As the flag of 39 Infantry Brigade is lowered during an understated ceremony in Northern Ireland today, almost four decades of gallant military history will come to a quiet, yet dignified end.
Professional soldiering allows little time for sentiment, but at that moment veterans of the conflict could be forgiven for pausing to remember their 763 comrades who died as direct result of terrorism in Ulster.
Although the flag-lowering ritual at Thiepval Barracks, Lisburn, Co Antrim, has been kept deliberately low-key in order to avoid accusations of triumphalism, it represents the successful conclusion of the British Army’s longest ever military operation.
I suppose peace and the Union flag still flying over Stormont count as a successful conclusion, but while there are still murdering scum walking around free and being feted then I'll pass on the celebrations.
Night of the Broken Glass
Greens employing guerrilla tactics have begun targeting the prized assets of car-loving Germans.
The tyres of dozens of 4x4 vehicles were slashed last week in Berlin, with each attack accompanied by a note detailing the dangers of carbon emissions tucked under the windscreen wiper.
Germans running around smashing glass and sticking notes on the vandalised windows...don't mention "Krystalnacht" as that would be implying their intolerance has historical undertones, and “Krystalnacht” is an absolutely unacceptable term in Germany today.
Farmers have worse health, poorer quality of life and lower productivity than employees in any other sector, according to a new study.
A higher risk of accidents, concerns over a future they cannot control and the burden of red tape all add to the pressures of modern-day farming - an industry where the suicide rate is about twice the national average....
"The worst thing about farming is that you have a lot to worry about," ... "The various inspections and the level of bureaucracy mean that a simple mistake, like cutting your hedges too close, can cost you dearly.
"We have to prepare for inspections from the Accredited Crop Scheme and the supermarket audit and we can expect random checks by Defra at any time.
"The stress gets to many farmers.....
Farmers are merely at the forefront of living and working in a sector where every action is regulated, inspected and punished in almost arbitrary ways. Forget the risks of a teaspoon of salt, a cloud of smoke or deep fried Mars bar; unrelenting and uncontrollable stress and being ordered about is what does for more people than anything.
July 30, 2007
Race to the Pole
A RACE across the Arctic Circle by the three stars of TV’s Top Gear show was yesterday condemned by environment campaigners.
Greenpeace described the race to the magnetic North Pole involving gas-guzzling 4x4s as “beggaring belief” and “highly irresponsible” and said the BBC – a public service broadcaster – should not screen it.
In Top Gear – Polar Special, Jeremy Clarkson and James May race specially converted Toyota Hilux vehicles against Richard Hammond driving a sled pulled by Canadian inuit dogs....
Missed it last night, can't wait to catch it on youtube - or will I manage to watch it on the much hyped BBC iplayer
Very Much an English Afternoon
Sir Henry At Rawlinson End is out on DVD, remastered, so no longer will I have to put up with the scratched old video for those lonely gentleman's evenings when it just me and the decanter in front of the fire.
July 29, 2007
French advice worth taking
FRANCE is the country that produced Descartes and his one-liner, "I think therefore I am," as well as the solemn pontifications of Jean-Paul Sartre and other celebrity philosophers.
But in the government of president Nicolas Sarkozy, thinking has lost its cachet.
In proposing a tax-cut law earlier this month, finance minister Christine Lagarde bluntly advised the French people to abandon their "old national habit".
"France is a country that thinks," she told the National Assembly. "There is hardly an ideology that we haven't turned into a theory. This is why I would like to tell you: Enough thinking, already. Roll up your sleeves."
Citing Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America, she said the French should work harder, earn more and be rewarded with lower taxes if they get rich.
Maybe one thing good will come out of the Olympics
MINISTERS are planning a relaxation of post-Dunblane gun laws to help British pistol-shooters compete successfully at the 2012 Olympics, it emerged last night.
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith is pondering a new proposal that will allow dozens of Britain's top pistol shooters to hold and use their weapons on British soil for the first time in a decade, to maximise the nation's chances of winning medals at the London Games.
The remarkable blueprint, thrashed out by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport in consultation with British shooting groups, would grant up to 50 sports pistol shooters temporary exemptions from the 1997 legislation rushed into force following the Dunblane massacre. The permission would run out after the Olympic Games had finished...
Gill Marshall-Andrews, of the Gun Control Network, said: "It might not seem a controversial move to make, planning a short-term exemption from the legislation, but it will be greeted with horror by everyone concerned about the spread of guns in society.....
How to prevent the Doctors killing you in Hospital
SEVERELY burned Glasgow Airport attack suspect Kafeel Ahmed is being kept alive on the orders of MI5, senior police sources have told Scotland on Sunday.
Ahmed has third degree burns to 90% of his body and virtually no chance of surviving but insiders claim the security services are keeping him alive to avoid a backlash from radical Muslims.
Ahmed, a doctor at the Royal Alexandra Hospital, Paisley, has been in a coma since the incident and most burns experts believe he is already effectively dead. But last week it emerged that special shark skin implants costing £20,000 were being used to treat his injuries.
A senior police source said: "It has been made very clear to the doctors by the 'powers that be' that they are to do anything and everything to keep Ahmed alive."
Maybe that is the only way to survive being ill in an NHS hospital, get a couple of large men in suits and dark glasses have a quiet word with the staff.
July 28, 2007
Me, me, me
I'd like fellow bloggers and blog readers to send me their Top 20 UK Political Blogs by email. I'll then compile the Top 100 from those that you send in. Just order them from 1 to 20. Your top blog gets 20 points and your twentieth gets 1 point.
The deadline for submitting your Top 20 to me is August 15th. Please email me your list to iain AT iaindale DOT com and type Top 20 in the subject line....You don't have to send 20, but try to do 10 as a minimum.
If you have a blog, please feel free to encourage your own readers to take part.
Once all the entries are in a lucky dip draw will take place and the winner will be sent £100 worth of political DVDs!
Here is the proof that it really is Man made global warming....
Hot and Dry or Cold and Wet, the model predicts them both so must be correct
Floods show global warming is here - Telegraph .... no year has been more joltingly significant in our coming to terms with the reality of what is now happening than the past 12 months.
It began with Sir Nicholas Stern's report on climate change last autumn. There followed an extraordinary scientific reaffirmation of the predictions made in the late 1980s and early 1990s by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC).
The overall trend for Britain identified by the computer models as a result of global warming was wetter winters and drier summers. However, Dr Peter Stott, a climate scientist at the University of Reading... said more intense rain storms in wetter years would also fit into the pattern.
"Generally speaking, the models are tending to show a drier trend in summer in the UK," he said. "Nevertheless, when it rains it can rain harder, because the atmosphere can contain more moisture in a warmer world."
Is there anything the model can't be claimed to have predicted, the Delphic Oracle would be proud.
English score 7.3 out of 10 on happiness scale - Telegraph
People in England rate their satisfaction with life at an average 7.3 out of 10, Government researchers reported yesterday.
Responses varied according to occupation, with professionals seeming happier than pensioners, unskilled workers and unemployed people. ...Satisfaction rates fell to an average of 6.7 for social group E, which includes casual labourers, state pensioners and unemployed people.
Phil Woolas, the environment minister, said: "These [figures] show that most people are generally satisfied with their lives. But … the most disadvantaged are clearly less satisfied with their circumstances than the rest of the population."
What would we do without the Government spending our money on research?
July 27, 2007
There is sterling work going on in the USA by Citizen Journalists auditing the temperature recording network at www.surfacestations.org. Some unbelievably badly sited or maintained stations are being used to feed data into the system - see for instance Detroit Lakes.
So what about the UK?
The official record is the Central England Temperature (which) is representative of a roughly triangular area of the United Kingdom enclosed by Bristol, Lancashire and London. The monthly series begins in 1659, and is the longest available instrumental record of temperature in the world.
... The stations used to compile CET are chosen from the UK surface station network to be consistent as possible with those used historically. The data is then adjusted to ensure consistency with the historical series.
The Met office released a paper on corrections to the CET series here:
Uncertainties in the Central England Temperature series 1878-2003 - pdf
Quantification of uncertainties in climatic data records is a prerequisite for the
interpretation of trends and extreme values. Here we estimate the uncertainties in
the most recent and reliable 125 years of the longest instrumental record in the
world: Central England Temperature (CET)...
CETmax and CETmin are constrained to have an average equal to CETmean,
as published by Manley (1974)
What? They have decided that Manley in 1974 got the mean right so all they are going to adjust are the max and min, in equal amounts to keep the mean the same. Isn't that deciding on the answer before looking at the evidence?
Measurement errors include thermometer calibration errors, errors from reading
and recording temperatures (precision errors), and errors arising from the
method of housing the thermometers.
Calibration errors in the late 19th century cited by the Met Office (1879, 1880) have a
standard deviation of about 0.2°C in magnitude. So we assume a single
thermometer standard error of 0.15°C throughout and assume the errors are
random between thermometers, ...
Results: Calibration standard error for CETmax and CETmin
1959 on 0.079
I know my statistics are rusty but somehow they just made a thermometer which may be 0.2°C out only give an error of 0.08..hmmm.
They do a similar calculation on the reading errors. They continue...
For thermometers housed in Stevenson screens, the type and condition of the
screen affects the accuracy of the measured value. A comparison of temperatures
taken from digital thermometers housed in various screens in Sweden (Andersson
and Mattisson, 1991) revealed much bigger extreme differences between the
screen thermometers and an aspirated thermometer (the 'true' value) than those
given in the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Guide to Meteorological
Instruments and Methods of Observation (WMO, 1983)....Andersson and Mattisson calculated RMS
errors of 0.26°C, 0.31°C.. for daily Tmax, Tmin......
....the 1980s. The subsequent increase in diurnal range then appears to be
exceptional in a historical context. The known increase in sunshine in the United
Kingdom in recent decades (Parker et al., 2004) is consistent with an increase in
diurnal temperature range.
Owing to the availability of additional digitized daily data, Parker et al (1992)
used different stations for daily CETmean than Manley (1974) had used for monthly
CET ). Because of these differences in stations, the areal average
temperature at Parker et al’s stations differed slightly from Manley’s values. So
Parker et al. (1992) adjusted their daily CETmean values to make their monthly
averages consistent with Manley (1974). For similar reasons, when we created
daily CETmax and CETmin series, again using a different sequence of stations (Table
1), we adjusted the values so that each day’s average of CETmax and CETmin
equaled that day’s adjusted CETmean and was therefore also compatible with
....no urbanisation adjustments were made to the CETmax series because
urbanisation is known to affect minima much more than maxima...
The total uncertainty for a given time-scale is the square root of the sum of all of
the individual error variances on that time-scale.
...This shows that temperature differences between at least the 10 warmest years
are not statistically significant given (especially) the areal sampling and
calibration errors. Therefore statements such as “2003 was the 7th warmest year
in the CET record” must be qualified with reservations regarding the uncertainty....
And so it goes on.. It seems to my inexpert eye they have decided that the mean temperature is correct and all they are doing is estimating how far off the extremes are -I don't get any feeling they have asked the question what if there is a systematic bias in one direction at one or more of the measuring sites. But then they are Brtitish so they must be reliable, mustn't they?
Scottish Greens demand scrapping Ohm's Law
PLANS to turn Scotland into the renewable-energy powerhouse of Europe are under threat from new rules being proposed by the UK electricity regulator, experts warned last night.
Ofgem is preparing to impose higher charges on electricity generators located further away from large population centres. The move could make some schemes in the Highlands and Islands economically unviable....Ofgem is expected to approve the changes to the cost of connecting to the National Grid, which would make it more expensive for generators located further away from cities and towns. The regulator said this would cut the amount of electricity lost as heat, as it travels along cables, saving £15 million a year and 150,000 tonnes of carbon emissions....SNP energy spokesman, Mike Weir, said the charges were "ludicrous and discriminatory". He added: "Ofgem has yet again proved it is prepared to undermine the Scottish renewable industries through its mad obsession with the theory of locational charges. "Scotland has the potential to be the Saudi Arabia of renewable energy, but time and again Ofgem puts obstacles in the way, rather than promoting this vital national benefit."
Whoops, it isn't Ofgem's faults it is those tricky old laws of physics. It is no good pumping kilowatts of juice into lines hundreds of miles away from the nearest kettle. All that wire gets warm and uses it up. So it seems only fair that Ofgem want to pay on what drips out the users end rather than what some bearded loon on Rockall is shovelling in. But hey! what has science got to do with believing in windmills...
Police officers armed with bolt cutters had to be called in last night to help government officials seize Shambo, the sacred Hindu bullock wanted for slaughter...
The action comes after the multi-faith community finally lost the High Court bid to save Shambo. The assembly appealed for co-operation, but the monks warned that officials would have to interrupt worship to remove the animal.
Supporters from around the world had been taking part in a pooja ceremony to celebrate the sanctity of life at the temple enclosure in Llanpumsaint. "They will have to physically desecrate a temple to get him," said one of the monks, Brother Michael,...
As the bullock was finally driven away Brother James shouted, with tears flowing down his cheeks, "Goodbye Shambo, come back as a human next time."...
You would have to have a heart of stone not to feel a teensy bit sorry for these hippies with their made up religion losing a pet, never easy. But well done the Welsh Assembly, many of whom probably know the joy of bonding with animals, to uphold the law in the face of the epidemic of "religious rights". We shouldn't persecute religions but neither should what you claim your imaginary friend says mean you have special rights.
Iain is wrong on "useless" Tories
Iain Dale's Diary: It's Not Cameron Who Needs to Up His Game - It's The Shadow Cabinet....some of them are just useless...(at getting media coverage) which he links to Benedict Brogan's political blog which points out that of the Tory shadow cabinet 13 out of 29 listed are "part-timers" as they have outside business interests.
No, no, no Iain! They may well be useless but it isn't because they spend time in boardrooms, it is just that they are useless. Can Gordon Ramsey no longer fry an egg because on the telly? Can Richard Branson no longer be a professional Virgin because he is walking on in Bond films? Should Churchill given up because he needed to scribble articles to live? If you want something doing, give it to a busy man. The curse of modern politics are professional politicians who know nothing outside the Westminster bubble. We were far better governed when it was done by amateurs.
Now on the matter of that there is something wrong with the shadow cabinet, he is spot on.
July 26, 2007
The Case For Local Authority Cuts
Cato-at-liberty is shocked to discover that:
Massachusetts requires hairdressers — yes, hairdressers — to be licensed by the government.
And in this country?
Licence - hairdresser - Google Search
Hairdressers and barbers are required to be registered with the local authority. Following an application an Officer will visit ...
The Deregulation and Contracting Out Act 1994 has eliminated the need for hairdressers to be registered,
You do not require a licence or registration in order to trade as a barber or hairdresser in Newcastle
All Hairdressers and Hairdressing premises must be registered with the Council. Council byelaws cover the hygiene and cleanliness of ...
To operate a Hairdressing Salon within the Doncaster Metropolitan Borough, you need to be registered.
The Leicestershire Act 1985 means hairdressers in Rutland need to be registered,
And so on....
That's clear then - how do those customers in areas of the country survive where the reckless councils let people cut hair without being inspected first?
NuLabour offers Strength Through Joy to the Chavs...
BBC NEWS | UK | Unclaimed cash for youth services
Money from unused bank accounts is to be used by the government to provide a "youth centre in every town".
The scheme is part of the government's 10-year strategy for young people which is due to be unveiled by Children's Minister Beverly Hughes.
...Schools Secretary Ed Balls said every child should be able to take part in "fun" activities once lessons were over.
So the state
steals borrows our money to give chavs fun? But it sounds like they are having fun already....
IPPR senior research fellow Julia Margo said: "British teenagers are more likely to get into fights, hang out with other teenagers, binge drink, take drugs and have underage and unprotected sex than teenagers in most other European countries.
"British teenagers spend more time 'hanging out' with their mates and less time with adults, while British adults are less likely to intervene to stop teenagers committing vandalism and other anti-social behaviour.
"Successive governments have left British youth to its own devices.
"The worry is that if the government is too touchy feely and just offers teenagers the kinds of activities they say they want, we will fail another generation."
I get it now, teenagers mustn't be allowed to choose what they do, the government must direct them in their leisure, strength through joy and all that, eh?
Strength Through Joy
Kraft durch Freude (KdF, literally "Strength Through Joy") was a large state-controlled leisure organization in the Third Reich, a part of the German Labour Front (Deutsche Arbeiterfront - DAF), the national German labour organization at that time. Set up as a tool to promote the advantages of National Socialism to the people, it soon became the world's largest tourism operator of the 1930s.
From 1933, KdF provided affordable leisure activities such as concerts, day-trips and holidays as in Prora. .... Above all, KdF would bridge the class divide by making middle-class leisure activities available to the masses. Borrowing from the Italian Fascist organization Dopolavoro ('After Work'), but extending its influence into the workplace as well, KdF rapidly developed a wide range of activities, and quickly mushroomed into one of the Third Reich's largest organizations.
KdF was awarded the Olympic Cup for the year 1939 by the International Olympic Committee.
German environmentalists save Nazi resort - Telegraph
A vast seaside resort built by the Nazis is to be resurrected as a youth hostel to cater for increasing numbers of environmentally conscious Germans staying at home for their holidays.
First built for the master race as part of the Nazi "Strength Through Joy" programme, the hulking dormitories of Prora, stretching over three miles of pristine Baltic coast, were intended to house 20,000 people at a time.
Green party demands for less polluting behaviour have been echoed by Social Democrats, whose deputy parliamentary leader, Ulrich Kelber, has sung the praises of train travel and called for Germans to avoid flights. Even staunch conservatives from Bavaria have been pressing Germans to "learn to value the qualities close to where you live".
"Climatic change has arrived in Germany," said Mr Hohls the head of the German Youth Hostel Association. "The weather has got better and better and in general more and more Germans are staying at home."
Less Nanny, More Matron Please
BBC NEWS | Health | Hospitals 'do not probe drinking'
Most A&E departments in England do not identify problem drinkers or offer them long-term help when they seek treatment, a study says...This did not appear to affect treatment on the spot, but meant people were not offered sources of long-term help.
Of course while Nanny is worrying about the demon drink she can't deal with:
Patients pay the ultimate price for NHS errors, says watchdog - Times Online
Thousands of patients are feared to be dying needlessly every year because of poor communication between hospital staff, faulty equipment and a lack of skills.
An analysis of errors has found that some staff failed to make basic checks and that others did not see that their patient’s condition was quickly deteriorating, with fatal results.
Every year about 13 million people are admitted to acute hospitals in England and Wales. Estimates of the number of deaths due to medical errors vary between 800 and 34,000 a year, but the true scale is unknown because NHS staff are often reluctant to report mistakes and close calls.
The agency said that 1,804 serious incidents were reported as resulting in death in 2005, with 576 of these cases being avoidable.
As Camilla Cavendish says:
Hospitals must be taken to the cleaners -Times Online
In the week that Bournemouth council banned the issuing of armbands at its swimming pools, for fear of spreading germs, we are told that 60,000 hospital patients this year will catch the superbug Clostridium difficile. While one part of the public sector is infected with a virulent strain of health and safety disease (let’s call it HSD), another – the part that is supposed to look after our health – seems strangely immune.....
Cases of “C diff”, as it is known in the trade, have risen by 22 per cent in the past year, affecting more than 15,500 people over 65. It is not always lethal: in 2005 it was mentioned on 3,697 English death certificates (MRSA was mentioned on 1,512). But those figures understate the problem, because hospital-acquired infections often go unmentioned as a factor in death. The campaign group MRSA Action UK believes that many deaths that are listed as organ failure will also have involved MRSA.
It is generally agreed that the UK’s performance in combating these bugs lags behind every other European country except – oh, here’s a comfort – Romania....It is trickier to isolate patients in the NHS because it has far fewer empty beds than almost any other Western health service. That is a direct consequence of the determined reduction in hospital beds from almost 300,000 20 years ago to 175,000 last year. At Stoke Mandeville, where at least 33 and possibly 65 people died from C. difficile in 2004, staff claimed that they could not isolate patients because of budgets and waiting-time targets.
The fact is that a clean hospital is a well-managed hospital. Infection control is not impossible. What it really boils down to, in the words of Georgina Duckworth, of the Health Protection Agency, is “running a tight ship”. Only a well-managed hospital will get a grip on superbugs. And the fact is that there are still far too many poorly managed hospitals. The superbugs are not only a problem in themselves – they are also a symptom of what is wrong with the NHS culture.
When voters said that they wanted to bring back matron, they did not mean “appoint someone with the title of matron and ask her to build partnerships with team members towards a better future”, which is pretty much what happened in 2001. They wanted someone with the authority and willingness to tell others what to do.
The Healthcare Commission report published this week contains some telling quotes from NHS employees. “It’s difficult to enforce authority like it was in the past,” says one. “Staff have so many rights, unions, human resources,” says another. And the report concludes that “overly authoritarian or hierarchical styles of management” can now be perceived as “bullying”.
Outside the NHS, health and safety is being enforced maniacally. There is no shortage of bossy enforcers to remove your rubber ring. I never thought I’d say it, but we need a bit more of that in the NHS.
July 25, 2007
Department of Whelk-Stalls and Pissups-in-Breweries Annual Account Fiasco
Sir John Bourn unable to sign off on benefit department's accounts for the 18th consecutive year
The Department for Work and Pensions accounts have been qualified by the government's public spending watchdog.
Sir John Bourn could not sign off on the accounts because an estimated £2.5bn shortfall. Across the benefit schemes operated by DWP a total of £690m was lost to fraud, £1.01bn to customer error, and £850m to official error
Put 'em on the list
As some day it may happen that a victim must be found,
I've got a little list--I've got a little list
Of society offenders who might well be underground,
And who never would be missed--who never would be missed!
ReferendumList.org goes online today. The brainchild of two British political bloggers, ReferendumList.org will canvas MPs on whether they support a British referendum on the so-called EU Reform Treaty and display the replies online.
The task of filling up the blanks I'd rather leave to you.
But it really doesn't matter whom you put upon the list,
For they'd none of 'em be missed--they'd none of 'em be missed!
CHORUS. You may put 'em on the list--you may put 'em on the list;
And they'll none of 'em be missed--they'll none of 'em be missed!
Kennet Council to be Axed
Four district councils (Kennet District Council | West Wiltshire, North Wiltshire and Salisbury) and the county council are to be axed and a new single super-council will govern Wiltshire, it has been decided.
It is claimed the change could save taxpayers £15m each year by 2012.
Reorganisation, and constant modernisation, the hallmark of management consultant led nulabour balls-ups. Anyone want to bet that the services get better and my tax bill go down?Thought not.
Two Cheers for Cameron
Mr. Cameron has also welcomed the suggestion of Policy Group, for a new campaign called Real Trade, to "put pressure on politicians in all developed countries to drop their trade barriers, unilaterally, and immediately".
The Conservative Leader criticised the way richer states seek concessions in return for trade deals, and declared: "Forget the endless tortuous negotiations about getting something in return. Just do it. We can afford it. Africa needs it. And we will all benefit from it."
Spot on, it is only fair to praise him when he is right and speaks out, but electorally he blew it; the danger of your home being flooded worries Middle England far more than the plight of the Rwandans...
Welcome the "motorist-friendly" "Civil Enforcement Officers'
The cameras that will catch drivers who stay too long in a parking space | News | This is London
Millions of motorists face being sent automated tickets through the post if they are caught on cameras trained on parking bays, the Government revealed today.
Thousands of spies in the sky will remove the need for traffic wardens or parking attendants to physically slap a ticket on a windscreen.....
The new regulations laid before MPs yesterday under the Traffic Management Act 2004, mean:
• Fines can be sent by post after camera evidence or a parking attendant spotting a drive-away number plate.
• Parking attendants will be renamed 'Civil Enforcement Officers'.
The Department for Transport insisted last night that the new powers were aimed at making the issuing of parking tickets more "motorist-friendly" - and were designed to deter persistent offenders, not to raise cash...
If we are going to be civilly enforced at every turn at least they could wear decent uniforms; the sloppy shirt-hanging-out polyester trousered scruffs are a disgrace. Something in black, with silver neck flashes and mirror polished jackboots would be more suitable.
Labour Recycles Honours Promise
The prime minister has trumpeted his commitment to diluting the list of the usual suspects - civil servants, City businessmen and the military - and giving more medals to community workers and other areas of national life.
Gordon Brown: Honours for ordinary people - Telegraph- 25/07/2007
Ordinary people who achieve extraordinary things are set to receive more honours under a shake-up of the controversial system to be unveiled by Prime Minister Gordon Brown today. Mr Brown is to propose that more people who volunteer are officially recognised.
Flood Blames , Cameron Drowns
It wasn't going to be long, given the biblical scale of the flooding over the past few days, before questions were asked about the effectiveness of the embattled Environment Agency and its chief executive, Lady Young. Baroness Young of Old Scone, to give her full name, is a Scot who has benefited twice from the patronage of the Labour government, first by her appointment as a working peer and second by being given the ｣163,000-a-year job as chief executive of the agency.
As the excellent Sam Tarran says
It's another example of the utter incompetence of Labour. Cameron should be attacking Brown, Benn and all the fools at the Environment Agency non-stop. He should be touring the flooded towns and cities of Middle England, the group he needs to win over to triumph at the next election. He should be making himself the voice of those people who are seething at the stupidity of the Government.
But no. His defence is that he's visiting and raising awareness of the people who have no clean running water or electricity or don't enjoy all of our 'comforts'. Well there's hundreds of thousands of people in his own country now who have no running water or electricity, and they're only comforts are the efforts of the emergency services and the military who are working hour after hour, day after day, and night after night.
And there is even more bad news from the front.
Scotsman.com News - UK - Even Rwanda asks Cameron: Why aren't you back home?
DAVID Cameron's trip to Africa was plagued by further embarrassment yesterday when just 16 out of 80 Rwandan MPs turned up to hear him speak.
Yesterday, even Rwandan journalists joined in the chorus of disapproval, asking why he had not remained in crisis-hit Witney.
Mr Cameron defended his decision to go to Rwanda despite the ongoing crisis in Britain and the threat of a vote of no-confidence hanging over him.
After seeing for himself the effects of flooding in west Oxfordshire on Sunday and remaining in contact with the local council, he said was aware of the seriousness of the situation.
He told the audience: "There are some people in Britain who told me not to come. They said I should stay at home and worry about domestic concerns.
"Let me tell them and let me tell you - in the 21st century, a century of global trade, global migration and global terrorism, there is no domestic and foreign. We are all in it together."
Mr Cameron plans to return to his constituency later this week after arriving back in Britain this morning.
Oh, nice sense of urgency there, how long does it take to get from Heathrow to Witney, three or four day? Is he still relying on his native bearers?
And he insisted his visit to the east African country was essential to understanding 21st-century challenges such as flooding and climate change.
He told Rwandan MPs:
"We are seeing climate change bring floods in Britain while, at the same time, climate change is depleting water for your hydro-electric programme here. Our futures are linked as never before."
Prat, no wonder Lord Kalms, a Tory donor and former treasurer, said he and other supporters had concerns that Mr Cameron did not have the policies to win the next election.
He said: "I think his daily actions and his present programme isn't giving us the assurance we need to win the next election. I'm just sending warning signals from the back ranks, 'Look, chum, we need to do some rethinking'."
An ICM survey published today found Gordon Brown has risen in the estimation of 21 per cent of voters since becoming Prime Minister.
More than a fifth of those polled said their opinion of Mr Cameron had slumped. And among Conservative supporters, 42 per cent said that they liked the party, but disliked Mr Cameron.
Overall, Labour maintained a six-point lead on voting preference, taking 38 per cent compared with 32 per cent for the Conservatives.
July 24, 2007
Just accept it is good for you and stop arguing
Gordon Brown was shaping up for a bitter and prolonged battle over Europe with the Conservatives last night after his Europe minister described calls for a referendum on the new European Union treaty as "frankly absurd"....Mr Murphy told MPs he had no intention of seeking any amendments. Responding to the eurosceptic Tory MP Bill Cash, who said there must be a referendum on a document that would create an EU president and foreign minister, Mr Murphy quoted the Europhile former Tory Chancellor, Kenneth Clarke, as saying to ask the people to vote on such a document would be "frankly absurd"....David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, last night repeated the Government's refusal to hold a referendum on the new treaty. Mr Miliband, attending his first meeting of EU foreign ministers since his appointment, said: "The concept of a constitution has been abandoned. That is made clear in the new treaty. In that context we don't think there needs to be a constitutional referendum."
He went on: "The important question is whether it is a good treaty for Europe and for Britain or not?
And if it is so good why don't you trust the voters to agree?
That reminds me; I must update the name tags on the lengths of hempen rope in the barn, and Ken Clarke's one has been there so long it has faded, I think I can safely renew it in Permanent Marker.
Global Warming and the floods beg the question
A catastrophe with mankind's footprints stamped on it - Times Online
Global warming is generating heavier rainfall over Britain of the sort that has triggered this week’s floods, scientists have confirmed for the first time.
While it has long been suspected that climate change is contributing to increased precipitation over midlatitude countries such as Britain, research has now conclusively linked greenhouse gases to heavier downpours.
Conclusive, debate is over... but , but...
The findings, from an international team including several British scientists, do not prove that this week’s flooding is the direct result of global warming: it is linked to weather patterns that have been known before.
A bit of a cop out there, I thought you just said it was "conclusively linked "...
...the scientists compared recorded changes in rain and snowfall over land with changes that are predicted by climate models that account for global warming caused by greenhouse gases.
Eh? So the evidence is that models based on real world events mirror real world events, and then you slip a causative hypothesis in there. That kind of is Begging the question
... a logical fallacy, petitio principii, in which the conclusion of an argument is implicitly or explicitly assumed in one of the premises . Stephen Barker explains the fallacy in The Elements of Logic: "If the premises are related to the conclusion in such an intimate way that the speaker and listeners could not have less reason to doubt the premise than they have to doubt the conclusion, then the argument is worthless as a proof, even though the link between premises and conclusion may have the most case-iron rigor".In other words, the argument fails to prove anything because it takes for granted what it is supposed to prove.
Despite the new popularity of the environmental cause and the drive towards recycling, the idea of a throwaway society seems as entrenched in Scottish culture as ever. It is an attitude that John Ferguson, waste and resources manager at the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, is passionately trying to change....Mr Ferguson said the need to deal with rubbish responsibly should be taught in citizenship classes in primary schools to "instil these values" into children. But many people appeared to have "switched off" from the environmental message and firm action had to be taken.
"That gets you into the realms of a much more punitive and legalistic civic society. I don't like that, but I'm not sure how else we are going to change people's behaviour," he said. "We need purges in areas and just start handing out spot fines and do it en masse in certain areas, at certain times of day. But it's always a tricky one. Politicians don't like that and I can see why. I don't like it, but how else can you do it?"
The number of attacks unleashed by householders upon binmen has almost doubled within the past year.
Refuse collector: 'Bin rage' assaults on collectors double
70 of 230 local authorities said their binmen had been attacked by frustrated householders
A rising number of residents are lashing out at refuse collectors in frustration at finding their bins still full because they have failed to follow strict recycling rules....
Lee Marshall, the chairman of the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee which advises councils on waste issues, said: "There is no logical reason why anyone should attack a binman.
"Councils design their schemes to be as simple as possible and, at the end of the day, are trying to save the environment for future generations. How can that be a bad thing?"
I wonder if it ever crosses their minds that it is the sanctimonious nit-picking bureaucratic system that is maybe a tiny bit at fault here....
July 23, 2007
During a real flood event: We will erect the flood barriers when weather data and river levels indicate that flooding is imminent.
The rescue operation in one part of Britain turned to farce when vehicles carrying barriers to protect residents from floods became stuck on flooded roads.
Parts of Worcester and nearby Upton-upon-Severn, which were still recovering from the earlier floods, were left defenceless after the temporary barriers failed to reach them because the vehicles could not get past waterlogged roads and congested traffic.
Both towns suffered severe flooding with residents being trapped and having to be evacuated.
Maybe that nice Mr Miliband should have spent more time worrying about the state of his department and less about the state of the climate and his progress up the slippery pole.
Forcing the Voluntary to be Compulsory
System recalls how the Catholic Church sold indulgences - Times Online
The MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee believe that forcing airlines and other businesses to offer carbon offsets will make customers think more about their impact on the environment. So the businessman will still fly to New York, but the £10 he pays voluntarily may make him think twice about his other activities – while also paying for solar cooking stoves in Bolivia or forest protection in Brazil.
The danger is that human nature could turn out to work in precisely the opposite way. The very cheapness of offsets could make people underestimate climate change. And by paying an extra £10 for our flight or cab ride or gas-guzzling patio heater, we may simply feel free to keep on sinning.
I fear that the second is more likely. HSBC and Barclays are both described in this report as having increased their carbon dioxide emissions after introducing offsetting schemes. All government departments now offset – but walk around Whitehall at night and you will see that the lights are still on. That is why many environmentalists feel that offsetting is the modern equivalent of the guilt-absolving indulgences sold in the 16th century by the Catholic Church.
So what to do?
About 1.5 million Britons offset their flights last year. Ten per cent of people travelling with lastminute.com offset too. That is a substantial figure for schemes that are voluntary, and brand new. It is, in fact, a dramatic demonstration of conscience by individuals. Its popularity should be sending a clear signal to Government that the public wants decisive action.
Eh? Ten per cent of people do something voluntarily means that the Government should force the remaining 90% to do the same?
And let's look at what the "substantial figure" actually is....
The inconvenient truth about the carbon offset industry | Climate change | Guardian Unlimited Environment
It is 20 months now since British Airways proudly announced a new scheme to deal with climate change: for the first time, passengers could offset their share of the carbon produced by any flight by paying for the same amount of carbon to be taken out of the atmosphere elsewhere. "I welcome warmly this move from BA," said the then environment minister, Elliot Morley.
And how much carbon has BA offset from the estimated 27m tonnes which its planes have fired into the air since that high-profile moment in September 2005? The answer is less than 3,000 tonnes, less than 0.01% of its emissions - substantially less than the carbon dispersed by a single day of its flights between London and New York. The scheme has been, as BA's company secretary, Alan Buchanan, put it to a House of Commons select committee earlier this year, "disappointing".
EU Fine Causes Flood Defence Cuts - as not reported by the BBC
BBC NEWS | Politics | Flood defence spending to be cut - 2 August 2006
Efforts to prevent floods are under threat as the government's environment department is forced to cut £200m in the next six months.
The Environment Agency, which runs flood defences, is among those being hit by cutbacks at the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
The cuts are at least partly being made to make up for losses from the failures in the new subsidy system for farmers.
Those "losses" were not the "losses" at all, they were a fine by the EU for Defra cocking up the RPA payments , but then you wouldn't expect the BBC to say that, would you?
Greenmail on Passengers
PASSENGERS should pay a "green tax" on airfares to combat the damage to the environment caused by increased flying, an influential Westminster committee said last night.
Tim Yeo, who chairs the Commons environmental audit committee, said airlines should be forced to levy a charge of up to £40 for every flight to offset carbon emissions from aircraft.
Last November we had this:
Tim Worstall: Airline CO2 Charges
AIRLINE passengers would pay up to £27 extra for a return ticket to cover the environmental damage caused by their flights, under European Commission proposals to address climate change....flights originating or arriving in the UK already pay tax (Air Passenger Duty) of about this amount such flights will in effect be double taxed
So is Tim Yeo - shamed shagger and Ken Clarke backing "Conservative" - just respouting the EU line or is this a suggestion for yet another grab on passengers cash?
July 22, 2007
Worcester Flood Levels
Noah's Marks at the Watergate - River Severn Flood Levels::
Beside the Watergate to Worcester Cathedral is this flood depth indicator. The highest recorded flood was in 1770, the plaque high on the wall marks this. Just below this to the left is 1947. The highest recent flood is marked on the right and was in November 2000. (More) - Although most of the recorded floods are in December to March, summer flooding in May and June have been very high.
© Copyright Bob Embleton and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
Politicians call for action after floods cause havoc in the UK - Wikinews, the free news source
Politicians in the United Kingdom have started calling for action after months of heavy rainfall have left parts of Britain in crisis from flooding and electricity and water shortages. Environment Agency chief executive Baroness Young has called for an increased budget of around £1 billion a year to pay for flood defenses. Environment Secretary Hilary Benn has suggested that the conditions were 'unprecedented'...
July 21, 2007
Pimp My Ride
Mrs Englishman is the proud owner of a Mazda 5 - is it just me or with the back door slid open doesn't it look like it needs some side mounted equipment....
Now that would be more like it for the Supermarket shopping run....
The real cost of anti-GM, pro-biofuels greenery; poor black babies starve.
Scotsman.com News - Families face stark choice ... pay more for food or go GM
CONSUMER resistance to the idea of genetically modified foods must be overcome if there is be a solution to the growing problem of food inflation, scientists have said.
"Organic farming requires four times as much land-use. It is an extensive method of agriculture, rather than intensive. Acceptance of biotechnologies will allow us to develop cheaper and better food and mitigate our environmental impact."
Advocates claim it will enable farmers to gain higher crop yields through better weed control and reduce the use of toxic pesticides...Genetic modification can give plants immunity to viruses, making crops less likely to fail and boosting yields. It can also improve their nutritional value.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) said: "No-one has ever been reported as suffering from illness because the food they had eaten had been genetically modified." .....
Poor countries, they say, will be less reliant on hand-outs, the nutritional content of basic foods can be improved and vaccines to fight disease can all be added to GM crops. In essence, they claim it is the answer to the growing problem of feeding the world.
BUT critics, such as Friends of the Earth Scotland, believe the large-scale release of GM organisms into the environment would irreversibly damage the countryside, eliminating diversity and turning it into a green monoculture.
They claim it may cause damage to human health, contribute to the evolution of pesticide-resistant "superweeds", and make organic farming impossible because of cross-pollination.
Corn has doubled in price over the past 18 months, wheat prices have gained about 50 per cent, while sugar and cocoa prices are also on the up.
This week the UN warned that rising prices for food would affect its ability to fight famine in Africa.
A report by the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organisation and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, stressed that long-term prices would be up to 30 per cent higher than expected.
"Growth in the use of agricultural commodities as feedstock to a rapidly increasing biofuel industry is one of the main... reasons for international commodity prices to attain a significantly higher plateau," the report said.
The warning is likely to re-ignite the debate on food versus fuel. Under America's "ethanol policy", a quarter of US maize is converted into bio-fuels. As the US supplies more than two-thirds of the world's grain imports, the effect on food prices will be dramatic.
Cash for Honours, now the blame game.
Relief swiftly turns to anger as MPs confirm that police will be questioned - Times Online
John Yates, the Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, is to be called before MPs to explain himself.
He will be asked why he took so seriously the complaint....In a statement yesterday Mr Yates failed to endorse the decision not to prosecute....
Tony Wright, chairman of the Public Administration Committee, said: “I don’t know the process by which they took it on. That is something that is going to be asked. Was it simply a Scottish Nationalist MP looking for a bit of mischief who walked in with an envelope of press cuttings?”
Asked if part of the inquiry would be to try to prevent a similar police investigation, he said: “I think we should try and sort these problems out. On any test, this has been profoundly damaging for the body politic and for individuals.” Mr Wright suggested that the police had been naive"....
Peter Mandelson criticised the police and said they had used media leaks during the inquiry to “create a false impression of Mr Blair and undermine the public trust in the government.”.....
Mr Blair said: “Those involved have been through a terrible, even traumatic, time. Much of what has been written and said about them has been deeply unfair, and I am very pleased for all of them that it is now over.” He added: “I want to make it clear that I level no criticism at the police. They were put in an invidious position by the SNP complaint and had a very difficult task to perform.”
Lord Levy spoke of his great relief. ..Ms Turner said that the decision was “an enormous relief”...The decision is a relief for the Prime Minister...
Relieving themselves all over the body politic... rather than blame the SNP and the police I think we know where the real blame lies, proving it though was always going to be hard.....
Anglo-French drive to cut VAT on 'green' goods - Telegraph
Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, agreed yesterday to press the European Union to cut taxes on environmentally-friendly products, such as energy-efficient refrigerators and cars with low or zero emissions.
After talks in Paris, the two leaders said their finance ministers would be asking the commission to propose that environmentally clean products should carry a reduced rate of Value Added Tax.
Cap in hand to beg the EU about setting the tax rates in their own countries! And some claim we are still a sovereign nation.
St George's Cross - "offensive and racist".
Binman's St George bandana 'is racist' - Telegraph
A black dustman has been banned from wearing a St George's Cross bandana because council officials say it could be regarded as racist.
Matthew Carter, 35, who was born in Barbados, used the headgear to keep his dreadlocks out of the way while he was on his rounds in Burnley, Lancs. He had done so for seven months before his photograph appeared in a local newspaper. A number of local people complained, and his superiors called him.
"I received a verbal warning," Mr Carter said yesterday. "They told me the St George's Cross was not allowed to be seen on any clothing we wear because it could be considered offensive and racist."
Ian McInery, the operational services manager for Pendle council, defended the decision to discipline Mr Carter. He said: "We have made it clear to staff that they are not allowed to put stickers or flags on bin wagons or wear clothing which shows support for a particular team, group or country.
"We can't make one rule for one person and one for another. It's just a common-sense approach that we are sticking to."...
Ah, "Common Sense" - that explains it, obviously something I don't understand.
July 20, 2007
The Devil's Kitchen notes:
The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.
Pretty boy that the Devil is I prefer Audrey - even if she is voiced by Marni Nixon.
And it is tipping it down here, the pigs are lining up two by two and it is going to be wet and muddy driving back from the pub tonight....
German Shows Me The Way Home
German crop pattern enthusiast Jozef Cene ended up in a swirl himself when he mistook a canal for a road - and drove straight into it.
To make matters more embarrassing for the tourist it was revealed that he is a policeman back home in Berlin.
Mr Cene had spent Friday evening having a quiet drink and chatting with other crop circle researchers in the Barge Inn at Honey Street.
On leaving he surprised customers sitting outside the pub by driving his car up to the canal edge....
One onlooker said: "He looked to the left and looked to the right to check nothing was coming, indicated to turn right and then the car leapt into the canal."...
Police were called and breathalysed Mr Cene, who was not over the limit.
PC Mark Fiander-Lewis said: "The driver stated that he mistook the muddy and dark canal to be an extension of a wet Tarmac track and continued to drive straight over the bank and into the middle of the canal.
That is the same canal I have to pass over on my way back from the pub... but why breathalyse him? Nothing illegal about driving pissed on private land, or water.....
Tony's Legacy - The State's Assault on Our Liberties
History will remember this Government for its assault on liberty
....The State always wants to limit the liberties of its people. But it is normally restrained by an executive that understands the limits of illiberalism or is contained by a Parliament that considers itself to be a guardian of freedoms.
For a number of reasons, neither of these brakes was applied under Tony Blair’s premiership. The huge Commons majority he enjoyed, the craven pusillanimity of his party, the implosion of the Conservatives and the consequent absence of opposition, other than in the Lords – and, to an extent, in the courts – conspired with a genuine, though irrational, fear of terrorism and rising street crime to let the State take greater control over the citizen than it has enjoyed before in modern peacetime.
Under Mr Blair, the State recaptured territory that it must have thought had been buried forever under a mountain of human rights laws and beneath all the freedoms that would normally make it more difficult to control the individual, such as ease of communication and of movement. But the technology that has made us feel freer has also given the State the wherewithal to keep control over us and to say that it does so for our own good.
This assault has come from many directions. Surveillance of a sophistication never dreamt of in Orwell’s worst nightmares; the gradual dismantling of the judicial protections afforded to defendants in criminal cases, even to the point of questioning the presumption of innocence; the criminalisation of dozens of activities that would never previously have been considered unlawful; the limits on freedom of speech; restrictions on movement and detention without trial or even charge; and the creation of databases containing information on us all and which will track the movements of our children and theirs from cradle to grave.
As Mr Brown conceded in the Commons, freedom of expression is a basic liberty that risks being eroded, a statement that seems at odds with a world of incessant internet chatter and unrestrained blogging. Despite this, probably not since John Milton railed against restrictions on the press in the 17th century has this country been so confused about where the boundaries of free speech lie. People used to be free under the criminal law to speak their minds, provided they did not incite others to commit violence or infringe public order. .....
Jonathan Ross cleared over Nigella obscenity - Telegraph
Ross told the TV cook she was a "Milf" during an interview on his BBC1 chat show Friday Night With Jonathan Ross. He did not spell out what the acronym stood for - but many viewers would have been aware of its meaning.
In the same interview, broadcast in December 2006, Ross insulted vegetarians by saying: "Serve them f***ing right" when Lawson mentioned they would be unable to eat a Christmas dinner containing roast potatoes cooked in goose fat.
He also stated that if anyone offered him goose for Christmas lunch he would "s*** on their couch".
A viewer complained about the use of "foul language and inappropriate references".
Eh? Complaints when for once the BBC is broadcasting three simple true statements - well maybe not the "shag on the couch" - I hope it was "shag", when I first read it I thought it was "shit", the reference to goose etc, and that isn't nice. In fact I think to get that thought out of my mind I should follow the lead of Stumbling and Mumbling with some "Gratuitous Nigella"
What a lovely pair, of pictures.
Men of Substance (and David Cameron)
Scotsman.com News - Cannabis confessions and a Home Secretary called 'Spliff'
FIRST it was Jacqui. Then Tony. We had Ruth and Alistair. And let's not forget Hazel, Yvette, Andy, Vernon and John.
The final total was seven Cabinet ministers, including the Home Secretary and the Chancellor, and two junior ministers at the Home Office.
All yesterday admitted that they had smoked cannabis as students in an extraordinary day of confessions from our most senior elected politicians, who have typically remained guarded over their past indiscretions. The Tories, by contrast, refused to comment.
....While Mr Brown has been eager to show he will lead a more transparent government than Tony Blair, the move to allow Cabinet ministers to declare their status as reformed cannabis users was also a political tactic, for it put pressure on the Conservatives to be more transparent.
David Cameron, in contrast, has forbid his shadow cabinet from commenting on their drug use, after being personally dogged for months over whether he did or did not use cannabis and cocaine. A recent biography claimed he had been rebuked at Eton for smoking cannabis.
A Conservative insider said: "It does look a like this string of confessions is coincidentally well co-ordinated".
Finger on the pulse there Old Boy! I think "coincidentally well co-ordinated" means "the Labour News Machine has completely taken us by surprise and I don't know what to say". What a pity the Tories haven't the guts to seize the opportunity and start debating drugs like grown-ups. Whilst at least they have had the sense not to descend into playground fingerpointing, though I'm not sure whether that is a policy or just they have all gone on holiday, they first response was indulge in mutual bansturbation.
Tory soundly thrashed by a minger
Cameron suffers in Brown election win double - Telegraph
Despite mounting a high-profile campaign - including no fewer than five visits from Mr Cameron - the Conservatives' flamboyant candidate Tony Lit trailed in in third place on 8,230 votes, 1,888 votes behind the Liberal Democrats.
Virendra Sharma, the victorious Labour candidate, said to great cheers from the crowd at Ealing town hall: "This is a great result for our new Prime Minister Gordon Brown and it is a humiliating rebuke from Britain’s most diverse constituency to David Cameron’s Conservatives.
"David Cameron staked his reputation on this by-election and the people of Ealing Southall have given David Cameron their verdict. We do not trust the Tories to represent us. It is policies that win elections, not slick PR."
Labour enjoyed a much more comfortable victory in Sedgefield, ....But there was bad news for Mr Cameron as the Tories slipped into third place on 4,082 votes, with the Lib Dems - who won 5,572 votes - leap-frogging them to finish second.
Maybe Dave should join Iain Dale in Rwanda and hug a Gorilla, he might pick up the Attenborough vote then. He needs to do something as it ain't working, and the Brown honeymoon seems to continue...
July 19, 2007
Cash for Honours - Latest
The Crown Prosecution Service is set to announce its decision in the morning
Feed the World
Business Daily Africa - the international window into East African business opportunities - Annan rules out use of GMOs in the war on hunger in Africa
In what is bound to stir controversy in agriculture and scientific circles, former UN secretary general Kofi Annan has ruled out the use of Genetically Modified Foods (GMOs) in the battle against food insecurity and poverty in Africa.
“We in the alliance will not incorporate GMOs in our programmes. We shall work with farmers using traditional seeds known to them,”
Twat - let a real wise elder, who knows what he is speaking about, tell you what is really needed.
Carnivore's Carbon Shame
Eating beef ' is less green than driving' | Uk News | News | Telegraph
Producing 2.2lb of beef generates as much greenhouse gas as driving a car non-stop for three hours, it was claimed yesterday....
Su Taylor, the press officer for the Vegetarian Society, told New Scientist: "Everybody is trying to come up with different ways to reduce carbon footprints, but one of the easiest things you can do is to stop eating meat."
"Everybody" being a relative term there, compared to the roaring fires of Hades that I barbecued my steak on last night a few cow farts are insignificant! Maybe we should campaign to eat our beef rarer to save on charcoal...
The cost of a saint's visitation
If you're looking to book Al Gore for a 75-minute "Environmental Multimedia Lecture," the former vice president will cost you $100,000, plus travel, hotel, security, and per diem expenses. Gore's standard speaker's contract, a copy of which you'll find below, also stipulates that the Democrat's ground transportation be "a sedan, NOT an SUV." Additionally, Gore requests that speech sponsors make every effort to use a hybrid vehicle for his transport. The Gore contract, which is more restrained than the one used by Rudolph Giuliani, stipulates that no press be permitted at the event and that the Democrat receive approval over the distribution of photographs from the appearance. Gore's contract for a May 21 appearance at the University of California, San Diego was released by the school. Though the contract seeks "absolute confidentiality" when it comes to the deal's terms, since UCSD is a public university, the California Public Records Act requires that the document be released upon request....
Who says Greenery doesn't pay!
The Protocols of The Elders
Nelson Mandela launches Elders to save world | International News | News | Telegraph
There will eventually be 12 Global Elders - but the exact make-up of the group was in flux right up until yesterday's announcement.
As well as Mr Mandela and his wife, Graca Machel, the group comprises Desmond Tutu, the Anglican Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town; Jimmy Carter, the former American president; Mary Robinson, the former Irish president; Kofi Annan, the former secretary general of the United Nations; and Muhammad Yunus, the Nobel laureate economist and founder of the Green Bank in Bangladesh....The initiative was the brainchild of Sir Richard Branson and the musician Peter Gabriel.
Rejoice! Kofi and Jimmy, together at last to save us. Was the Blessed Margaret invited to join? Or doesn't she qualify as a Global Elder?
July 18, 2007
Yew won't find it
Britain's oldest and biggest yew hedge, which is 400ft long, 30ft tall and 30ft wide....The hedge's location is a closely-guarded secret but it is near Milton Abbas in Dorset.
Closely Guarded eh? Not to Mr Google, five minutes and here is the same hedge in 1955.
Not so much a secret as unfindable, according to Dorset Life:
Melcombe Bingham is part of the confusion caused by place names in this area. A mile away is Bingham’s Melcombe; at one time they were one place and Bingham’s Melcombe was just the name of the manor house next to the church. Melcombe Bingham is also known as Melcombe Horsey or Lower Ansty, since it runs into the village of Ansty to the north. Properly speaking, Melcombe Horsey is the name of the deserted village to the west of the present settlement.
And who says we makes it confusing for Townies to find their way about....
A Real Hero Rewarded
Could there be a man alive today who is virtually unknown to the vast majority of Americans yet is described by those who know his work and accomplishments as "the greatest human being who ever lived"? So it is for Dr. Norman Borlaug.
As the result of multiple appeals to Congress by his friends and colleagues, yesterday at the Capitol Rotunda in Washington President Bush and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi bestowed upon Dr. Borlaug the highest civilian honor: the Congressional Gold Medal.
Dr. Borlaug has already received the Nobel Peace Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, being one of only five people in history to achieve all three honors (reason enough to think he should be better known than Paris Hilton)...
And if you have not heard of him, you should have, and ...
the challenges he faced from those who claimed genetic engineering and crossbreeding were "unnatural" and that vast increases in wheat yields came at the cost of "big business" replacing subsistence farming.... his anxiety over the growing problem of wheat rust — a fast-spreading, wind-borne fungus that shrivels wheat stems — and about his frustration over the rejection of biotechnology by many environmentalists.
The EU's Green Shill Bidding
Friends of the Earth Europe, the group pre-eminent in lobbying the EU for tighter controls to combat global warming, received €635,000 in funding from the EU commission last year.
That, with additional funds from German, Austrian and Dutch ministries of environment, plus contributions from the United Nations Environment Programme, accounted for over fifty percent of the group's income, making it primarily a taxpayer-funded organisation.
The extent of EU and member state funding was revealed yesterday by administrative affairs commissioner Siim Kallas to the EU parliament in Brussels, in a speech on the "European Transparency Initiative", an initiative which is set to require groups to disclose the funds spent on lobbying EU institutions.
During the speech, Kallas also revealed that Oxfam had received € 48 million from the commission over two years to carry out development and humanitarian projects throughout the world .....
The fact that Friends of the Earth Europe receives such a large proportion of its total income from the taxpayer, however, is especially significant. The group forms part of the "civil society" caucus to which the commission pays special attention, as part of its programme to encourage "participative democracy" – its response to the low turn-out for EU parliament elections and the fact that commission members are unelected.
Clearly, the fact that its European group is, in effect, a quasi-governmental organisation – although its member groups solicit donations from the public – gives Friends of the Earth a privileged position in promoting its global warming agenda, and its funding from the United Nations further strengthens its position.
This is in stark contrast to the climate sceptic groups and individuals which are largely unfunded – and often have funding withdrawn when they express views hostile to the global warming "consensus", thus giving the "warmists" a clear advantage in promoting their cause.
For the commission, this is also advantageous. Having bought into global warming as a major element of its environmental policy, it can be seen to be responding to apparently independent, voluntary groups while, in fact, it is actually paying to have itself lobbied to take actions which, in the main, it would wish to take anyway.
Shill - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A shill is an associate of a person selling goods or services or a political group, who pretends no association to the seller/group and assumes the air of an enthusiastic customer. The intention of the shill is, using crowd psychology, to encourage others unaware of the set-up to purchase said goods or services or support the political group's ideological claims. Shills are often employed by confidence artists and governments.
Fake bloggers soon to be ‘named and shamed’ - Times Online
Businesses which write fake blog entries or create whole wesbites (sic) purporting to be from customers will fall foul of a European directive banning them from “falsely representing oneself as a consumer”.
No word if the directive also applies to "shamities".
Buy Foreign to save the planet
FOR the conscientious, food shopping now poses yet another ethical dilemma: is it really better to buy locally rather than shipping meat, fruit and vegetables around the globe?
A conference of experts yesterday heard that importing food from the other side of the world can actually be more energy-efficient than buying British produce and helps developing countries tackle poverty.
The debate threatens to split the organic movement and could leave ordinary shoppers confused as to what to do for the best. It also comes as the Scottish Conservatives launch a "buy local, eat local" campaign to support farmers and reduce food miles...
Ah, the Tories, there's never a bandwagon that they don't jump on as it has passed....
The Empire Decrees
Brown will struggle to deny EU referendum | Uk News | News | Telegraph
Gordon Brown will have "problems" denying voters a referendum on the new European Union treaty, the architect of the old constitution has confessed.
Valéry Giscard d'Estaing yesterday admitted that differences between the new treaty and the constitution, which was rejected by French and Dutch voters two years ago, "are few and far between and more cosmetic than real"....
Mr Giscard has advised Mr Brown against an "uncertain" referendum, predicting that British voters would do the same to the new treaty as the French and Dutch did to the old constitution.
The former French president insisted that the new treaty mandate, agreed in Brussels last month, is too complicated for ordinary European citizens to understand.
Jean-Luc Dehaene, the former prime minister of Belgium who is now a senior MEP, noted that 95 per cent of the constitution was back. He said it was no surprise that voters were confused....
Mr Dehaene also insists the issue is not one for the voters, whether they are British, French or Dutch. "Europe will never go forward by referendum," he said. "Leading is showing the way, not following."
Patronising anti-democratic bastards, is it tumbril time yet?
July 17, 2007
Grab n'go bags
You may want to compare the Australian recommendations against Kim's
The EU Con Trick
EU banks on 'unreadable' treaty | International News | News | Telegraph
The revived EU constitution has deliberately been made "unreadable" to help fend off demands for a referendum, according to the former Italian prime minister, Giuliano Amato
Simple advice for life - If you don't understand it , don't sign it. Whether it is a washing machine extended warranty, a timeshare deal, or a dodgy political con trick, don't sign it.
30 prisoners freed early back in jail within days | Uk News | News | Telegraph
Thirty prisoners released early to ease the pressure on the country's overcrowded jails are already back behind bars.
Official figures from the Ministry of Justice showed six committed crimes within a week of being freed, while 18 are ''unlawfully at large'' after failing to meet the terms of their release.
More than 1,700 prisoners, including 344 convicted of violence against the person, were freed from jail early in the first week of emergency measures.
They were set free 18 days earlier...
So six crimes to be dropped on the Home Office doorstep, if they hadn't been so unfit for purpose the scum would still have been in jail, and the six are only the tip of the iceberg.
Filthy Flaying in the Playground
White board projectors halted by shedding skin | Uk News | News | Telegraph
Nearly 160 classroom whiteboard projectors have broken after being clogged up with the "wrong type of skin".
The machines, used for interactive presentations, were among 250 supplied to schools in West Sussex by the electronics giant Toshiba.
The company says the 157 failures are due to classroom dust and blame the fact that children shed their skin faster than adults.
Old Chalky used to be enthusiastic with the cane, and there may have been a few drops of blood on the wood block floor next to his "special" chair, and I'm not entirely sure what the stains the other side of the desk were after he had beaten one of the prettier fags, but skin? What are they doing to these kids? Flaying them alive? Or are schools as filthy as hospitals?
And to complete the Dickensian school experience....
Saturday school 'for poor children' | Uk News | News | Telegraph
Children from poor homes should be forced to go to school at weekends and during holidays and climb up chimneys out of sheer gratitude of their paternalistic betters.
McSporran Prosecutes Undertone Blogger Over Derogatory Remarks
Scotsman.com News - Scotland - Blogger is sentenced for racist website postings
A SUPERMARKET worker who "blogged to shock" on his website by lampooning black people, Muslims, the Irish, homosexuals and the disabled has been sentenced to carry out 160 hours of community service.
....Love, a shelf-stacker at Morrisons supermarket in Falkirk, invited colleagues to log on to the website, www.sirdavisiv.com, which he set up in 2005.
Alistair McSporran, prosecuting, told Falkirk Sheriff court that the website's content acquired a darker tone after initially being filled with "amusing or supposedly amusing stories".
He said: "The site had started to take on undertones of racism and homophobia and contained derogatory remarks about disabled and unfortunate members of society."
Undertones, d'ye hear! and derogatory remarks , we canna be having that sort of thing - thank goodness www.archive.org only has a small snapshot of this outrage.
(In my ignorance I didn't realise McSporran was actually a real name, but if you think I'm going to make a cheap joke then you are mistaken)
July 16, 2007
Swear Bloggers - eat your hearts out
Top ten result - fuck off - Google Search
Who would have thought this mild mannered corner of the the net would feature so highly. And I didn't even mention Snook -v- Mannion  which Is the only case law I can remember, especially when pissed.
News from the Nursery
Bless! He has been allowed out to play and he tried to make his voice sound really deep and serious. And he didn't suck his thumb or his security blanket. He is a good little boy really, and no one giggled at him "asserting his authority", sweet.
Lawless Out West
Rural areas see 25pc rise in robberies | Uk News | News | Telegraph
Violent crime and muggings have risen sharply in the past 12 months, despite Government pledges to crack down on the problem and increase the number of front line police officers, figures will show this week.
In some rural areas, robbery offences have risen by almost 25 per cent while crimes of violence against the person have risen by almost a fifth.
The figures, officially released on Thursday, represent a challenge to Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, and will fuel fears that police officers are too tied up with paperwork.
And anecdotally the rate of non reporting of crime is rising even faster, there is just no bloody point unless you need a crime number for an insurance claim, it just surprises me that more people aren't applying Real Community Justice
North Pole News
SEA STORIES FROM THE ARCTIC OCEAN
On the 25th of August 1960, the nuclear attack submarine, USS Seadragon (SSN-584) surfaced in an open lake of water or "polynya" very near the North Pole. We were the fourth submarine in history to have reached the top of the world!....
Jon Daly pointed out at length that The Top of the World often has ice free areas.
Heading North! Traveling the Arctic Region, U.S. Submarines Find Adventure, New Challenges, and New Friends
USS Honolulu (SSN-718) is the 24th Los Angeles-class submarine to surface at the North Pole....
19 mins, -1.8C: the first swim at the North Pole - Times Online
Mr Pugh, a maritime lawyer and environmental campaigner from London, swam a kilometre (.62 miles) at the Geographic North Pole to highlight the effects of global warming. At -1.8C (28.76F), it is believed to be the coldest water a human has ever swum in.
Clad only in his Speedo trunks, cap and goggles as required by the rules of the Channel Swimming Association – which also forbid any buoyancy aids, swimming caps that offer any thermal protection or trunks cut above crotch level – Mr Pugh spent just under 19 agonising minutes in the melted sea ice navigating a path in a crack between broken floes.
The feat would not have been possible ten years ago, when the water was entirely frozen over, even in summer.
North Pole Environmental Observatory
The comparison of open water at the Pole to an ice-free Arctic Ocean is something of an exaggeration. Typically the areal concentration of open water in the ice pack during the summer is 10%. Therefore, under normal conditions a visitor to the North Pole in late summer should expect to find some open water approximately one time out of ten. The National Snow and Ice Data Center posted satellite imagery from July 26, 2000, and although the region near the North Pole was obscured by thick clouds, a fairly typical summer pattern of jumbled ice floes and frequent leads of open water is evident in the central Arctic Ocean. Among the historical anecdotes related to us about open water at the Pole is the surfacing of USS Queenfish(SSN 651) during summer 1970 through a polynya a few hundred yards across about 500 yards from the North Pole....
Hat tip The Bishop
July 15, 2007
Bound not Bond
Scotsman.com News - Red tape stops checks on nine out of 10 terror suspects
SUSPECTED terrorists are slipping through the net because security services and police are so badly bogged down by bureaucracy, intelligence sources have claimed.
Special Branch and MI5 officers are forced under human rights laws to spend hours form-filling before carrying out the most basic surveillance tasks.
The problems are made worse by undermanning and mean that only a handful of the estimated 150 Islamic extremist suspects in Scotland are under constant surveillance.
We have discovered serious misgivings among officers about manning levels and the law under which they operate, the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA).
We can reveal that:
• Getting permission for the most basic surveillance operation, such as observing a building, takes up to half a day of paperwork and referrals to senior officers;
• Authorisation for a full-scale surveillance operation, such as following a suspect, can require up to three days of bureaucracy;
• If requests are rejected, officers have to spend around three or four hours filling in forms to explain why;
• Keeping one suspect under 24-hour surveillance takes between 24 and 36 highly trained staff, but there are thought to be just 250 Special Branch officers in Scotland;
• Health and safety regulations mean officers are generally restricted to working maximum shifts of eight hours;
It was all so much easier when we could rely on Big Tam and his rule breaking ways, even if he is only armed with a Walther LP53 air pistol....
My Sort of Olympics
The rise and rise of the Chap Olympics | Uk News | News | Telegraph
Here, at last, were 100 competitors and 800 spectators brave enough to confront the truth "that a society without courteous behaviour and proper headwear is on the brink of moral and sartorial collapse".
And not a sniff of taxpayer's money being frittered away....
Doctors: we must all donate organs - Times Online
THE chief medical officer wants everyone to be treated as organ donors after death unless they explicitly opt out of the scheme.
Sir Liam Donaldson believes the shortage of kidneys, livers and hearts is so acute that the country needs a donation system that will presume patients have given consent for their body parts to be transplanted.
Those who wanted to opt out would have to register in a similar way to those who now carry organ donor cards. This could be done through a central NHS database or through other documentation, such as driving licences.
Such a fundamental change is likely to prove controversial as critics claim it gives the state new powers over people’s bodies.
So we will have to carry our ID cards even after death to keep the State's thieving hands off our property, and if I don't own my body then I am a mere slave.
July 14, 2007
Yaa Boo Lefties, the Laffer Curve exists!
Pharyngula: The stuff of legend
This is turning up all over the place — at Brad DeLong's, Crooked Timber, and this pair is from Cosmic Variance — it's the most sublimely, awesomely, wickedly stupid example of fudging a curve ever. The two graphs below have exactly the same data points, and the only difference is the curve that was 'fit' to the distribution. Which one looks plausible to you?
The one on the left looks sensible and simple, and looks like it was actually drawn with some consideration of the data. The one on the right … not so much. I have no idea how anyone could think that particular curve belongs in there.
Yeh, yeh, yeh ... the lefties are all excited because the WSJ drew a silly illustrative line on a graph to indicate the principle of the Laffer curve. But is their straight line a better fit?
If it was true then it would show that the higher the tax rate the higher the take, presumably up to and beyond 100% (and yes there have been over 100% tax rates). And that is crap.
Purely by eye I sliced the chart on bands of rates and estimated the mean point. If anyone wants to do it more accurately I would be pleased to see it. (Norway is a special case in that they are hoovering up North Sea Tax revenue, but even without it the curve is similar.)
Back to the future
Just been reminded I have to go to a 70's party next week, what look to go for?
The hippy cheesecloth shirts or my late 70s uniform of black high laced steel toecapped boots, black 501s, checked shirt, braces and a black jacket... hmmmm. There will be a lot of caring teachers at the party so sandals will be over represented anyway...
And why have all my old clothes shrunk so I can't fit into them anymore?
It's the sun wot done it down under
An Australian academic has spoken out against the popular view that global warming is caused by greenhouse gas emissions. He believes that global warming and climate change are caused by cycles in the sun's electro-magnetic radiation. He says scientists are taking a narrow view and politicians are making policy with the wrong information.
And the forecast is...
Having been caught unawares by the torrential rain this summer, the Met Office was somewhat diffident in issuing its first forecast for next winter.
It will be warmer and wetter than usual, but colder and drier than last year, and but for global warming it would be colder than usual too.
Got that? In other words, the forecast is for an unexceptional winter. Perhaps.
And Courtney Cox may break into my bedroom wearing nothing but high heeled leather boots with a tub of chocolate ice cream, or she may not. It is that sort of accuracy of forecast we are getting from the experts who tell us what the effect of a cows fart has on the sea levels in Maldives.
Here is the news (as we want to report it) | Uk News | News | Telegraph
This week the BBC was forced to apologise to the Queen for falsely claiming that she stormed out of a photo shoot. We shouldn't be surprised, says former producer Antony Jay. In this exclusive extract from a brilliant new CPS pamphlet, he argues that the anti-establishment views at the heart of the corporation have always dictated its mind set
I'm too hungover to wade through three pages about "the Guardian, Channel 4, the Church of England, academia, showbusiness and BBC News and Current Affairs, who constitute our metropolitan liberal media consensus - though the word “liberal” would have Adam Smith rotating at maximum velocity in his grave. Let's call it "media liberalism"." and how it sets the agenda. Some of us have already noticed and have a shorter answer, but it is good to see it being covered by an insider.
May it was the Sun wot did it
EU Referendum makes the warmists wriggle and squirm with the graphs of recent global temperature.
July 13, 2007
Broadband down all night until 11 this morning so you are allowed a break from the blog today
July 12, 2007
Theo Spark - Give me a woody anyday.
...the Islamic hoards are charging up the drive. You need a weapon, which one are you going to go for and why.
Theo - you forgot to add the bayonet to my choice. They don't like it up'em.
Not Safe For Work
Good News - Regional Assemblies to be scrapped
The much-criticised, unaccountable South West Regional Assembly is to be scrapped and its powers handed back to elected councils, the WMN has learnt.Gordon Brown plans to demolish one of the few legacies of ex-deputy PM John Prescott by wielding the axe on the £2 million "talking shop".
Well that is one part of the EU inspired breakup of England that that has failed. And another vistory we can chalk up to Neil Herron who organised the defeat of the North East referendum which put the nail into prescott's plans. And I suppose we will find out who pays for it now..
...the SWRA, took on 50 employees, including a liability to fund their pensions. If regional assemblies are to be abolished, as the Tories half-promise to do, who will pick up that bill? The SWRA has no assets. Technically, therefore, it is what accountants call an "insolvent body",....
Happy Orangeman's Day
Repost from An Englishman's Castle: Happy Orangeman's Day
Happy Orangeman's Day
Have a Happy July 12th - a day that should be celebrated as a foundation stone of the Anglosphere. And a day hated by bigots, so raise a small glass just to annoy them!
And I have finally found out why a Battle fought on 1st July is celebrated on the 12th...
Battle of the Boyne -- Facts, Info, and Encyclopedia article
Originally, Irish Protestants commemorated the Battle of Aughrim on the 12th of July, as symbolising their victory in the Williamite war in Ireland. At Aughrim, which took place a year after the Boyne - virtually all of the old native Irish Catholic and Old English aristocracies dispossessed of lands to accommodate the newly established colony were wiped out. The Boyne, which in the old Julian calendar, took place on the first of July, was treated as less important, third in commemorative value after Aughrim and the anniversary of the Irish Rebellion of 1641 on the 23rd of October. What was celebrated on the Twelfth was not William's "victory over popery at the Battle of the Boyne", but the extermination of the natural leadership cadre of the native Irish.
However, by the time the Orange Order was founded in the 1790s, amid sectarian violence in Armagh, a new Gregorian calendar had been introduced in which the date of the Boyne was also the twelfth of July. Because the date was more familiar and because the Boyne was more prominent in British history, the Orangemen shifted their main commemoration to the battle of the Boyne, which is still commemorated with parades every year on the Twelfth. There are also smaller parades and demonstrations on the first of July, the old anniversary of the Boyne, which also commemorate the decimation of the 36th Ulster Division on the first day of the battle of the Somme in 1916.
The Battle of the Boyne remains a controversial topic today, especially in Northern Ireland where Protestants remember it as a great victory over Catholics and responsible for the sovereignty of Parliament and the 'protestant monarchy', while Catholics mourn it as a great disaster when the legitimate 'true' king sympathetic to Irish Catholics and Irish nationhood was deposed in a protestant coup. Both views having more to do with each sides' agendas and perspectives than any historical facts.
Kennet's Illegal Rubbish Advice
- from The Gazette and Herald print version.
Did you spot it? The man responsible for our bugged bins implies he feeds kitchen waste to his chickens - and that is strictly illegal under EU law!
Out of Hours
Health Crisis - Service Far From 24hour (from The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald)
None of the 11 teams of health professionals set up by Wiltshire Primary Care Trust are working extended hours, it was announced today.
All were due to operate from the beginning of July, 24 hours a day, but that was changed to 7am to 10pm due to staffing difficulties....However Devizes is being covered from 8am to 9pm.
The teams comprise nurses, therapists and support workers who treat patients at home and are being set up as community hospital beds across the county are closed down.
Despite having had five months to prepare for the introduction of the teams the unions said the PCT had not interviewed staff about their roles.
Following more talks with union representatives the PCT will hold one to one meetings for staff in the next month.
If staff are going to have to change their shift pattern there would have to be a three-month consultation.
Devizes Hospital was the first to lose its beds at the end of June. The setback to the teams will not stop the impending closures of a number of community hospital beds in Melksham, Warminster, Trowbridge and Chippenham in September.
Gabrielle Tilley, senior district nurse and co-ordinator of the Devizes neighbourhood team, said: "Patients will continue to be the focus of everything we do.
It is no wonder that Numberwatch has diagnosed me as suffering from
Acairasthenephobia, Ah-kai-ras-then-eh-phobia, n, a fear of falling ill out of hours (Gr negative prefix A; cairo (or kairós) - right time; asthenes - ill; and phobia, qv).when this is the state of my local health service.
In the real world, as measurable by science, CO2 in the atmosphere and in the ocean reach a stable balance when the oceans contain 50 times as much CO2 as the atmosphere. "The IPCC postulates an atmospheric doubling of CO2, meaning that the oceans would need to receive 50 times more CO2 to obtain chemical equilibrium," explains Prof. Segalstad. "This total of 51 times the present amount of carbon in atmospheric CO2 exceeds the known reserves of fossil carbon-- it represents more carbon than exists in all the coal, gas, and oil that we can exploit anywhere in the world."
But that would defy logic, would it not?
Also in the real world, Prof. Segalstad's isotope mass balance calculations -- a standard technique in science -- show that if CO2 in the atmosphere had a lifetime of 50 to 200 years, as claimed by IPCC scientists, the atmosphere would necessarily have half of its current CO2 mass. Because this is a nonsensical outcome, the IPCC model postulates that half of the CO2 must be hiding somewhere, in "a missing sink." Many studies have sought this missing sink -- a Holy Grail of climate science research-- without success.
"It is a search for a mythical CO2 sink to explain an immeasurable CO2 lifetime to fit a hypothetical CO2 computer model that purports to show that an impossible amount of fossil fuel burning is heating the atmosphere," Prof. Segalstad concludes.
"It is all a fiction."
The true state of the NHS
Scotsman.com News - Scotland - One in ten Scottish hospital patients 'suffering infection'
9.5 per cent of people in acute hospitals had a healthcare associated infection (HAI) such as MRSA. A study by the Hospital Infection Society from February to May 2006 found that 8.2 per cent of patients in England had an HAI, 6.3 per cent in Wales and 5.4 per cent in Northern Ireland. Experts and campaigners last night said that HAIs continued to be a problem because of poor hygiene in hospitals and a lack of isolation facilities.
Here's a suggestion, everytime a bloody doctor or health expert appears to lecture us on the risks of modern life give'em a bottle of Dettol, a bucket and mop and tell them to go and clean their own filthy hospitals first. Matthew 7:5 and all that - Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.
And it might be worth just checking out the leading private hospital provider Bupa's MRSA rate in comparison. It is a big round zero for MRSA blood infections in 2006. It is nothing to do with hospitals in general, it is how they are run.
Tories notice West Lothian, at last.
Scotsman.com News - Politics - Conservatives target Prime Minister over Scottish MPs' voting rights
CONSERVATIVE MPs yesterday lined up to taunt Gordon Brown over the West Lothian Question and disparities in public services between Scotland and England.
Yesterday, four of the 12 backbench questions during Prime Minister's Questions related to Anglo-Scottish issues, suggesting a concerted Tory attempt to use the issue against Mr Brown.
Fuelling those suspicions, David Cameron, the Conservative leader, pressed Mr Brown on the West Lothian Question in a subsequent Commons debate.
Conservative MPs believe Mr Brown is vulnerable to attack on the West Lothian Question, which asks why Scottish MPs should be able to vote on matters affecting England when English MPs are denied the same rights over Scottish laws.
Mr Cameron, the MP for Whitney in Oxfordshire, asked Mr Brown, the MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath: "Where is the fairness in allowing Scottish MPs the right to vote on hospitals, schools and housing in my constituency, while no MP is allowed to vote on hospitals, schools and health in his constituency?"
Mr Brown said he rejected the Tory policy of "English votes for English laws"
Who says MPs are opportunistic chancers rather than principled legislators. This running sore of a democratic deficit for the English has been obvious for years and ignored by the Tories, but now as sinners who repent they have suddenly noticed it and selflessly bring it to the fore. Better late than never I suppose.
Sell out confirmation
Blair's treaty opt-out is worthless, admits EU | Uk News | News | Telegraph
Senior European Union officials confirmed yesterday that Britain's "red line" opt-out from the European Charter of Fundamental Rights is not worth the paper it is written on.
Margot Wallström, the European Commission Vice-President, insisted that the charter will apply to huge swathes of British law, the 75 per cent or more that is derived from EU legislation.
Of course we can all blame Traitor Blair for this sell out, but it isn't a done deal yet. Brown, as Tony's Reichspräsident Dönitz, has the chance to scupper it, and if he doesn't there is a spike at the Tower fitting for his head.
July 11, 2007
Easy Miliband Mistake to Make
David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, visited two Sikh temples in Southall yesterday, joining worshippers during prayers at one and walking to the other for a brief meeting with community leaders.
Not to be confused with the Monty Python Gumbies...
And you nu labour bastards wonder why us backward country folk aren’t too keen on ‘right to roam’?
"No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money."
Blogging for dosh - Times Online
There are 57 million blogs on the web and 100,000 new ones appear every day. But can you make any money from an online journal?
Not as much as you can flipping burgers seems to be answer.
The secret’s out. Don’t waste public money on sport -Times Online
Will spending more public money on sport help to tackle obesity? No chance. Gerry Sutcliffe, the new Sports Minister, will soon discover one of Whitehall’s best-kept secrets: sporting participation has not budged since 1994 despite an extra £3 billion of investment through the lottery and millions more from the taxpayer.
Couch potatoes have long felt aggrieved at having to subsidise the healthy choices of others but this statistic will give them an even bigger reason to march upon Westminster (if they can heave themselves off the settee). It is now clear that the great sporting experiment of recent years has failed to deliver the change in attitudes that was promised and has simply provided cheaper access to sport for those already familiar with the concept of exercise. The net result has been a super-size redistribution of wealth from the fat to the fit.
.... Ministers and lobbyists often argue that increased participation in sport could eliminate (or significantly reduce) the £3.3 billion annual cost to the economy of ill health, healthcare costs and lost output as a result of physical inactivity.
It is an argument with everything on its side except evidence. There are good data to suggest that regular exercise reduces such conditions as heart failure, diabetes and certain types of cancer, which would take some of the strain off the NHS and increase productivity and tax receipts. But what about the increased number of sports injuries? And what about the gargantuan extra costs of public pension provision and long-term care for the sporty types who survive into an ever riper old age?
When all long-term costs are taken into consideration, the financial benefit to the Treasury of increased participation is far less than is claimed in the platitudes that pass for argument in sporting circles. So in such circumstances public expenditure could only be justified on financial grounds if there were a direct and powerful impact upon participation. And this is in the context of sporting administrators splurging billions over the past decade without generating a single extra participant.
We should not make the mistake of supposing that the London Olympics will provide a miracle cure. The 2012 Games, which are likely to cost £9.3 billion, will do nothing for participation if previous Olympics are anything to go by. .....
If people want to hop, skip and jump then let them do so, at their own cost. Why should I be mulct to pay for their pleasures, they don't subsidise mine.
It's not the sun wot done it?
BBC NEWS | UK | 'No sun link' to climate change
A new scientific study concludes that changes in the Sun's output cannot be causing modern-day climate change.
It shows that for the last 20 years, the Sun's output has declined, yet temperatures on Earth have risen.
It also shows that modern temperatures are not determined by the Sun's effect on cosmic rays, as has been claimed.
Writing in the Royal Society's journal Proceedings A, the researchers say cosmic rays may have affected climate in the past, but not the present.
"This should settle the debate," said Mike Lockwood from the UK's Rutherford-Appleton Laboratory, who carried out the new analysis together with Claus Froehlich from the World Radiation Center in Switzerland.
Dr Lockwood initiated the study partially in response to the TV documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle, broadcast on Britain's Channel Four earlier this year, which featured the cosmic ray hypothesis.
"All the graphs they showed stopped in about 1980, and I knew why, because things diverged after that," he told the BBC News website.
"You can't just ignore bits of data that you don't like," he said.
Strangely it seems very easy to find graphs on line which claim to show the continued influence of cosmic rays on climate - for example Cosmic Rays and Climate Change, though I'm sure they haven't ignored this data.
After much searching, as the BBC doesn't seem to believe in linking to the real research, here is their paper.
Fighting talk - and there seems to be counter arguments in place already, but I look forward to a detailed response.
July 10, 2007
Happy Birthday - An Ode to Joy
19 years ago today driving home in the middle of the night from the hospital after No1 Son had been born this came on the radio. Pure joy and happiness, my spirit soared, that is still what it means to me, whatever uses it as a bastard anthem!
Olympics fail the Whelk Stall test
Olympic costs could spiral out of control, says spending watchdog - Times Online
In a highly critical report the Public Accounts Committee condemns the Government for allowing the original Olympic budget to treble to £9 billion and calls for urgent risk management to give warning of potential problems.
The report argues that no individual has overall responsibility for delivering the Games and the large numbers of bodies meant there was a high risk of time delays and cost overruns.
I think that is "high risk" as in "racing bloody certainty". Is it too late to let Paris have them?
Scotch Self Loathing
Scotsman.com News - The PM, his press secretary and the 'whingeing jocks'
TONY Blair's difficult relationship with the country of his birth has been laid bare in the diaries of his former spin doctor, Alastair Campbell, in extracts which dismiss the country's journalists as "whingeing Jocks".
.. Campbell moans in an entry for 1995 that he and Mr Blair (born in Edinburgh and educated at Fettes College) were portrayed as "ultra-English", when in fact "we are Scottish in so many ways".
"He was born there and his dad is a Scot," he writes. "My blood is 100 per cent Scots, I play the bagpipes and followed the football team to World Cups."
He then recounts a conversation between Mr Brown and Mr Blair, when the prime minister is sarcastic about Scots' high expectations. "TB said to him he'd had a day full of whingeing Jock journos saying they wanted devolution and they wanted no tax and they wanted Scotland to get more money and they wanted to win the World Cup and why was I stopping them?"
Riding the range
BBC NEWS | England | Wiltshire | Farmer's concern over rural crime
A farmer has spoken of his concern over an "epidemic of vandalism and theft" on his organic farm and other small holdings in Wiltshire.
(Pertwood Organic Farm covers 750 hectares)
Wilfred Mole is calling for the problem to be dealt with otherwise farmers will face financial hardship.
Back in the bad old days, before Pertwood became organic I used to flog pallet loads of pesticides to them so I know it was a big farm. When Mr Mole bought it a year or so ago he may not have bought it all but to equivocate it to a small holding is plain silly, but to the BBC "organic" means cuddly small farmers handmilking goats in their amusing ethnic clothing, not a £10 million business which actually farms professionally and produces an excellent consistent product.
Mr Wilfred Mole is South African, judging by his accent. I am sure as an experienced South African farmer he would welcome, as would all farmers down here, a more "robust" approach to the problems of trespassers and thieves.
July 9, 2007
BJ for Me!
The Spectator Blog Boris for Mayor: A ten-step program
Tag and brand them to save them from slavery!
Every child who enters Britain ‘must be tracked to thwart the slave trade’ - Times Online
Every child entering the UK should have their biometrics taken in an attempt to stop the trafficking of children for sex, domestic slavery, street crime and drug smuggling.
The plan to track children after they enter the UK comes in a Home Office-sponsored study, which admits that human trafficking is now a “real and significant threat” to the country.
Children were being forced to work in cannabis factories, beg on the streets, turned into domestic “slaves” and drawn into the sex trade and benefit fraud, the report says
It is fine to take their biometrics but how does that help the concerned citizen or policeman in the street, what they need is some sort of visible symbol like a coloured triangle sewn to their clothes, in fact I think a system has already been worked out... Red was for Communists, Social Democrats, anarchists, and other "enemies of the state"; green was for German criminals; blue was for foreign forced laborers; brown was for Gypsies; pink was for homosexuals; purple was for Jehovah's Witnesses and black was for asocials, a catch-all term for vagrants, bums, prostitutes, hobos, alcoholics who were living on the streets, or anyone who didn't have a permanent address. The "work-shy," or those who were arrested because they refused to work, wore a black badge...
When your dinners are Jamied
After Jamie Oliver, children lose their appetite for lunch - Times Online
When Jamie Oliver revolutionised school meals he was lauded by teachers, health-conscious parents and politicians keen for some reflected glory.
His campaign has, however, proved less popular with the children. There has been a 20 per cent fall in the uptake of secondary school meals since Jamie’s School Dinners was screened two years ago, according to official figures. Numbers have reportedly fallen to about four in ten pupils – thought to be the lowest level since provision became mandatory in 1944. Older pupils in particular are rejecting the organic and healthy meals in favour of packed lunches or takeaways.
Result! The kids eat more takeaway chips and bags of crisps now. Ask any schoolchild what they think of Jamie Oliver and expect a Gordon Ramsey style response as tasteless stodge has replaced the old school dinners. And of course it is easier to score crack than a sachet of salt in most schools so the greens remain uneaten.
Al Gore not as popular as a dog
BBC axes One Man and his Dog...on Saturday afternoons, it had an audience of 1.6 million....
Evening viewing figures were 2.7 million, while 900,000 saw the afternoon broadcast.
Given the wall to wall hype the BBC was giving it they are pathetic figures - did we not turn on because we are bored of over the hill stars grasping at any opportunity to get their mugs on the Telly again or did we just want to avoid being preached at again?
July 8, 2007
A Pneumatic Blonde in the morning makes my day
So this is what I was faced with this morning at eye level as they wrestled this barely dressed blonde to the ground outside my home. At least I got compensated with a bottle of whisky for my distress....
More un-Britishness from Gordon
Ministers eye Her Majesty's swans | Uk News | News | Telegraph
The Royal Prerogative by which swans belong to the Queen looks likely to be scrapped under Gordon Brown's programme of constitutional reform.
It would see her stripped of the title "Seigneur of the Swans" and would mean an end to the "upping" ceremony
Now that is going to far! Next he will be attacking us Castle dweller's Droit de seigneur, ius primae noctis and the "upping" ceremony . Outrageous infringement of our ancient liberties!
Haven't the Tartan Taliban learnt from Tony that the sheer pointless modernising for the sake of modernising, the destruction of the old just because it is old, when no obvious improvement is offered in place is the worm that is destroying the foundations of our society? Or is this part of the Gramscian beliefs of our leaders that:
The working-class needed to develop a culture of its own, which would overthrow the notion that bourgeois values represented 'natural' or 'normal' values for society, and would attract the oppressed and intellectual classes to the cause of the proletariat
Be un-British urges Gordon's Sailor
No sooner do I post that Squealing and snitching are "unBritish" than Gordon's pet seaman called on people to be "a little bit un-British" and even inform on each other in an attempt to trap those plotting to take innocent lives.
"Britishness does not normally involve snitching or talking about someone,"
Has he cleared this with the Jelly Bellied Flag Flapper himself?
Tim Worstall comments about the promised 15 Year Fight Against Terror!
Now you're talking about somewhere near the rest of the natural lives of a good portion of the citizenry. You're also talking about a period of time long enough that we will, all on our very own, change the society irreversibly. After a 15 year period where civil liberties are so curtailed, after we have become a nation of snitches who have given up our freedoms for security (if indeed the latter will have been achieved) then who really believes that we'll get them back?
I cannot speak for everyone, of course, but I think I would rather live in a free society which included the possibility of my being blown up than to surrender said freedom for the rest of my life.
I couldn't agree more, and bonus points to Tim for not trotting out the old quotation about liberty and security, giving up one, deserving neither, attributed, probably erroneously, in many forms to old Ben Franklin himself...
July 7, 2007
Live Earth:- Faulty wiring?
The weather also led to the closure of the Royal Show a day earlier than usual.
Low profile alloy wheels and £40,000 of off road vehicle can't pull the top off a rice pudding - deep joy for the real as opposed to the Chelsea tractor driver. If it was mine I would have torched it and walked home rather than admit the shame.
Gone Shopping -Times Online
Snitching, grassing, blabbing, sneaking, spilling the beans, informing on, letting the cat out of the bag, leaking, blowing the gaff, betraying, selling down the river, telling on, shopping, blowing the whistle, tipping the wink, ratting – whatever you call it, snitching is a tainted practice.
Nearly 200,000 people have shopped enemies, friends, bosses and family to a new confidential Tax Evasion Hotline over the past year, The Times has learnt. Such ratting is often justified by the pious sentiment that the ends justify the means. But would an apologist for snitching argue that it is also morally permissible to mug millionaires on dark street corners in order to raise cash to carry out good works for the poor?
Tax evasion is reprehensible, but should you snitch? On enemies – understandable; but on friends? Snitching sounds moral and high-minded. But much snitching to the tax authorities is not motivated by a quest for financial justice, but by a desire to get even – with a former spouse, an annoying neighbour, an employer who is massaging his tax bill, or a friend or a business partner with whom you have fallen out.....
But then the tax authorities probably don’t call it anything so vulgar as snitching: they may call it a “non-formal revenue-enhancement stream”. If it is ethical to rat to the Revenue about unpaid taxes, is it not also ethical to grass up the sneaks? Is there a hotline to snitch on the snitchers?
It is the French way, Gordon should condemn it as unBritish, as I said before in a post which The Times echoes.....
An Englishman's Castle: Cockroachs
Snitch, squealer, stool pigeon, tout, grass, dobber, bavette, bourrique, cafard, cafteur, donneur, fileur, indic, mouche, mouton, raille, taupe....
Worms may not be as environmentally friendly as the growing number of gardeners who use them to help compost their kitchen scraps and grass clippings believe, say scientists.
In fact, the greenhouse gases emitted by a large commercial worm composting plant may be comparable to the global warming potential of a landfill site of the same scale, according to the Open University.
This is because worms used in composting emit nitrous oxide - a greenhouse gas 296 times more powerful, molecule for molecule, than carbon dioxide.
Mr Frederickson told Materials Recycling Week said: "Everybody loves worms because they think they can do no harm but they contribute to global warming.
....we must remember if we are evaluating this method against other ways of getting rid of wastes, such as landfill and incineration, that worm composting can also be a source of greenhouse gas emissions."
The worms crawl in and the worms crawl out
The ones that crawl in are lean and thin
The ones that crawl out are fat and stout
Your eyes fall in and your teeth fall out
Your brains come tumbling down your snout
Be merry my friends
It's all in the wife's name...
Brown flat deal could mean tax savings | Uk News | News | Telegraph
Gordon Brown gave his £700,000 flat in central London to his wife Sarah weeks before he moved into 10 Downing Street, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.
The Prime Minister’s wife then cashed in on recent soaring property prices by taking out a special type of mortgage against the value of the flat with a private bank.
....“She has got some money in the bank. But she does not have a steady income which would allow her to take out more than she has in the bank. All she is doing is using the value of the property as collateral in case she needs to borrow against it.”
Tax experts said Mrs Brown was likely to have used an equity release scheme to free some of the flat’s value. Such deals are used by pensioners to fund their retirement.
Tax experts said that if the Browns rented the property for £2,500 a month, bringing them £30,000 a year, the transfer of ownership could save them up to £7,000 a year in income tax....
A Downing Street spokesman said: “Sarah Brown’s financial arrangements are private and anything that would need to be declared would be declared.”
Nigel Evans, Tory MP for Ribble Valley, said: “This is the man who’s increased the tax burden on all families by £1,300 a year, who came to power promising a relentless war on tax avoidance. Now it seems he’s seeking to avoid paying any more tax himself. What utter hypocrisy.”
"A little bit woah, a little bit wayyy, a little bit whooosh!"
Where's the Piano Wire when you need it?
The Live Earth concerts take place tomorrow with a series of gigs across the globe broadcast live on the internet.
Organised by Al Gore, the environmental crusader and former United States vice president, the star-studded concerts are being held to highlight the threat of climate change.
Madonna will headline the concert at London's Wembley Stadium.
Sometimes I'm glad I live far from the Great Wen - to my London readers - enjoy! I can't make up my mind as to which event will be more drug addled...
I will be making do with the village flower show and a few pints of local Wadworth's Beer.
July 6, 2007
US Flag Flapping
Americans can only fly flags made in the US
The American state of Minnesota has announced that all US flags sold in the state should be of American manufacture, and warned violators of the law, that they would be punished by a 1,000 dollar fine, or imprisoned for three months.
The series of new laws is supported by the Flag Manufacturers' Association of America. It has complained about a flood of US flags, valued at 5.3 million dollars, imported mostly from China last year.
Jelly Bellied Flag Flapping! - It is a shame to see the symbol of liberty and freedom being dragged into the gutter as the refuge of protectionism and economic ignorance - cheap Chinese flags make America richer, even if the Flagmakers of America are in inconvenienced.
Union Jack will fly over No 10 permanently ‘to show values’ - Times Online
The Union Jack is to fly permanently over Downing Street as an expression of the country’s values, Gordon Brown said last night. Two days after the Prime Minister suggested that the flag should be on show more than the 18 days permitted by regulations, it appeared above several departments, including No 10 and the Treasury.
In an interview with ITN marking the end of his first full week in power, Mr Brown confirmed that the flag would stay, on his instructions. It represented what the country had in common and the values it held dear, a sense of civic responsbility, a belief in fairness. He said that all “those things that unite us” were reflected in the symbols of the monarchy, Parliament and the Union Jack.
For those joining late to the party I can do no better than repeat the origin of the phrase Jelly Bellied Flag Flapper from Stalky & Co. by Kipling.
And so he worked towards his peroration - which, by the way, he used later with overwhelming success at a meeting of electors - while they sat, flushed and uneasy, in sour disgust. After many many words, he reached for the cloth-wrapped stick and thrust one hand in his bosom. This - this was the concrete symbol of their land - worthy of all honour and reverence! Let no boy look on this flag who did not purpose to worthily add to its imperishable lustre. He shook it before them - a large calico Union Jack, staring in all three colours, and waited for the thunder of applause that should crown his effort.
They looked in silence. They had certainly seen the thing before - down at the coastguard station, or through a telescope, half-mast high when a brig went ashore on Braunton sands; above the roof of the Golf Club, and in Keyte's window, where a certain kind of striped sweetmeat bore it in paper on each box. But the College never displayed it; it was no part of the scheme of their lives; the Head had never alluded to it; their fathers had not declared it unto them. It was a matter shut up, sacred and apart. What, in the name of everything caddish, was he driving at, who waved that horror before their eyes? Happy thought! Perhaps he was drunk...
They discussed the speech in the dormitories. There was not one dissentient voice. Mr. Raymond Martin, beyond question, was born in a gutter, and bred in a Board-school, where they played marbles. He was further (I give the barest handful from great store) a Flopshus Cad, an Outrageous Stinker, a Jelly-bellied Flag-flapper (this was Stalky's contribution), and several other things which it is not seemly to put down.
July 5, 2007
Flavonoid of the month
Organic fruit and vegetables may be better for the heart and general health than eating conventionally grown crops, new research has found.
A ten-year study comparing organic tomatoes with standard produce found that they had almost double the quantity of antioxidants called flavonoids which help to prevent high blood pressure and thus reduce the likelihood of heart disease and strokes....
Plants produce flavonoids as a defence mechanism;....
Yep, Flavonoids are natural pesticides....
Flavonoids, including isoflavones, are natural components in our diet and, with the burgeoning interest in alternative medicine, are increasingly being ingested by the general population. Plant phenolics, which form moieties on flavonoid rings, such as gallic acid, are also widely consumed. Several beneficial properties have been attributed to these dietary compounds, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticarcinogenic effects. Flavonoid preparations are marketed as herbal medicines or dietary supplements for a variety of alleged nontoxic therapeutic effects. However, they have yet to pass controlled clinical trials for efficacy, and their potential for toxicity is an understudied field of research....... While most flavonoids/phenolics are considered safe, flavonoid/phenolic therapy or chemopreventive use needs to be assessed as there have been reports of toxic flavonoid-drug interactions, liver failure, contact dermatitis, hemolytic anemia, and estrogenic-related concerns such as male reproductive health and breast cancer associated with dietary flavonoid/phenolic consumption or exposures.
Natural doesn't equal good, plants don't actually want to be eaten, and take steps to prevent it. But to be safe I will boost my flavonoid intake by drinking red wine rather than eating ugly carrots.
Roll'em Pete - George Melly
He kindly autographed a roach after a crafty joint behind the stage at an Oxford Ball, I wish I still had it..
Climate Change doomsayer sacked by the IPCC is hired by Defra -
Defra (Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) has appointed Dr Robert Watson (pictured), a former aide to the White House on climate change, as its new chief scientific advisor.
"I have spent nearly all of my career working on environmental issues and am very much looking forward to joining Defra," Watson said. "I am keen to continue to build on the foundations laid by Sir Howard Dalton and his team in ensuring one of Defra's strengths is its focus on robust and quality science and evidence-based policy."
One of the most outspoken scientists on the issue of global warming has been ousted from his job.
Dr Robert Watson was voted out of the chair of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on Friday and will be replaced by one of the current vice-chairs, Dr Rajendra Pachauri.
Dr Watson's removal will spark a huge political row - environmentalists accuse the US Government of orchestrating a campaign to have the scientist sidelined.
They say Washington disliked Dr Watson's willingness to tell governments what he believes to be the unvarnished truth - that human activities are now contributing dangerously to climate change.
Dr Watson spoke to the BBC after the vote.
He continued: "We have to continue to press the case that climate change is a serious environmental issue, both for developed and developing countries.
Why do I have a bad feeling about this.....
What a sexy size 100BG dress!
Brussels could end the size 14 dress 'lottery' | Uk News | News | Telegraph
The size 14 dress could be consigned to history if a European Union quango gets its way.
The proposals, which are voluntary, are being drawn up by the European Committee for Standardisation and are part of a wider plan to force countries across Europe to adopt standard metric methods of labelling products.
Isn't it strange how the words "European Committee", "voluntary proposals" always seem to slip into "force" and "metric".
The Taxman cometh
BBC NEWS | Business | Bank account plan for unpaid tax
Money owed to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) could be taken automatically from the bank accounts of people who have not paid taxes, officials propose.
About 200,000 people are chased through the courts each year but the process is regarded as costly and bureaucratic.
The plan would allow HMRC to bypass the need to get a court order to seize money. It would be used against chronic defaulters as a last resort.
Critics say it could mean HMRC acting as judge, jury and executioner.
"Last resort", they always say that... Courts are so tiresome aren't they....
British Gun Bloggers are Warned
Gun Culture Comments
The End Of My Gun Culture?
Just had a visit from two uniformed officers. Reason? My firearms renewal, but more significantly this blog. It seems that my crappy little corner of the blogosphere has come to the attention of the police, and they don’t like it. Specifically mentioned was the piece regarding the British Association of Women in Policing, where the woman wanted smaller guns for women officers, this didn’t go down well apparently despite my admission in the piece that my comments were flippant
Take that as a warning any gun owning bloggers, you are being watched. (As Lurch points out under our rules it is right that enquiries are made as to the fitness of mind of a FAC holder, but his flippant fnarr-fnarr post doesn't seem the product of a sick mind.)
July 4, 2007
Happy Birthday USA
I was pleased to see my daughter's school had the Stars and Stripes flying this morning as I went down to help a uniformed Army Officer from Porton Down introduce the little ones to the wonders of science.... Porton Down? Isn't that where.......
Traditional nappies 'no better for environment' | Earth News | Earth | Telegraph
Traditional nappies 'no better for environment'
By Nicole Martin
Last Updated: 6:01pm BST 03/07/2007
A Government minister has delivered the news that millions of parents have been waiting to hear: traditional nappies are no more environmentally friendly than disposables.
Ben Bradshaw, the new health minister, made the comment after a four-year study by the Environment Agency concluded that "there is little or nothing to choose between them".
It found that the damage caused by burying disposables in landfill sites was matched by the electricity and greenhouse gases generated by washing and drying cloth nappies.
This would be the report that was released over two years ago then - the one the Real Nappy Cabal has been trying to bury ever since....
BBC NEWS | UK | No green winner in nappy debate
Thursday, 19 May, 2005
Whether parents use disposable or cloth nappies makes little difference to the environment, a report has concluded.
How slow news travels! Especially when it upsets the green apple cart.....
Leave it to the experts.
- Bishop Hill blog - - Climate cuttings 3 brings us upto date on the war of words about "dodgy" weather recording stations. As far as I can make out, the fact that some temperature is "rubbish" doesn't matter because the experts "adjust" it to make it "right". A bit like the CO2 reading from Mauna Loa which are "adjusted" when the wind is blowing the "wrong" way to make sure they are "right" as well. So don't worry it is all sorted by the experts.
At random I checked out the gallery of surface station temperature recorders in Colorado to lust after the magnificent open views where surely it can't be hard to place the recorders away from the heat and shade of buildings, tarmac and cars. Here's the first one I came across.....
I have been enjoying a couple of days peace from the BMA and other Doctors hectoring us about lifestyles, because "Doctors know best" and are all saints who want to save us from ourselves.
All mouth and no trousers
Gordon Brown rules out referendum on EU | Uk News | News | Telegraph
Gordon Brown yesterday ruled out holding a referendum on a new European constitutional treaty as part of a wide-ranging package of reforms to give "more power to Parliament and the British people".
In his first Commons statement as Prime Minister, Mr Brown offered to give up powers ranging from appointing bishops to declaring war and hinted that general elections could be held at weekends. But he excluded two pressing constitutional issues from his package of reforms: the growing demand for "English votes for English laws" to balance devolution to Scotland and Wales and Labour's manifesto commitment at the last election to hold a referendum on the European Union constitution.
More power, except where it really matters; just when I thought there was a glimmer of hope that he was proposing some decent reforms he reveals himself to be the same old power hungry anti-democratic tosser as old what's name his predecessor.
July 3, 2007
"Me and other folk were just tryin tae get the boot in and some other guy banjoed him"
John Smeaton - Hero For Our Time · One Brave Weegie Takes on al-Qaeda
.....The clips above are rare footage hunted down from ITN’s late Saturday night news. That’s right. For a few crazy hours, the English media went a bit mad and let our very own Braveheart rule the airwaves. When the camera cut back to the studio, you could see them blinking and wondering just what language it was they had just heard.
But what happened in Big J’s later interviews? The later CNN interview shows a more caring side to the one-man anti-terrorism unit. Or is it something more sinister?
Now the “big boy” is only getting “subdued”. Or has Smeato’s stream of consciousness been censored? Big Media don’t want you to know that the public are getting involved. The Polis don’t want you to know that without Big J, it could have been curtains. This is one of the many mysteries that we want to get to The Truth of...
The Wisdom of Crowds
BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | 'Scepticism' over climate claims
The public believes the effects of global warming on the climate are not as bad as politicians and scientists claim, a poll has suggested.
The Ipsos Mori poll of 2,032 adults - interviewed between 14 and 20 June - found 56% believed scientists were still questioning climate change.
There was a feeling the problem was exaggerated to make money, it found.
The Royal Society said most climate scientists believed humans were having an "unprecedented" effect on climate.
The survey suggested that terrorism, graffiti, crime and dog mess were all of more concern than climate change.
Ipsos Mori's head of environmental research, Phil Downing, said the research showed there was "still a lot to do" in encouraging "low-carbon lifestyles".
"People should not be misled by those that exploit the complexity of the issue, seeking to distort the science": Sir David Read - Royal Society
It's just the weather
Science and folklore unite in predicting rain - Times Online Paul Simons: Weather Eye
This is not climate change, though. Will Hand, a forecast researcher at the Met Office, has studied previous extreme rains in Britain. “The depressions that gave such heavy frontal rain recently were typical of 20th-century rainfall extremes,” he explained. He cites the Great Borders Flood of August 1948 as an example, when a slow depression flooded the River Tweed, sweeping away 40 bridges and disrupting mainline rail services for two months.
Do I win a small prize for spotting the first expert not claiming extreme weather is climate change. And for Paul Simons to report it. Of course it would be unkind to remind him of his article last September
Why next summer could well be even longer and hotter . . . - Times Online - September 18, 2006
More at the Bishop's
Brown missing the point on going private
Scotsman.com News - Politics - Brown misses the point about why parents opt for private education It's not facilities: it's the ethos of achievement
Gordon Brown still seems to be off the pace. He has declared his desire to raise the level of funding in every state school to the level of the private sector, building state-of-the-art facilities and gleaming new schools everywhere - as if that will miraculously erase all the differences between the two sectors.
In doing so he is demonstrating that he misses the point completely. The reason that parents send their children to private schools is not because the facilities are better than their state counterparts, because often they are not. It is because, on one hand, private schools have lower class sizes but also, and possibly more importantly, because they instil an attitude of achievement from day one, demand hard work and enforce their rules with discipline.
When Tony Blair was at Fettes, conditions were primitive in the extreme. Pupils slept on rock-hard, horse-hair mattresses in draughty rooms, and the classroom facilities were archaic. Yet Mr Blair, like so many of his privileged school colleagues, went on to a good university. Their success had nothing to do with the amount of money being spent on facilities and infrastructure and everything to do with the ethos of achievement at the school.
Simply throwing money at state schools will not make them as good as independent schools, and demand for private education will continue to rise until the politicians in both London and Edinburgh realise that.
The Labour-led governments, north and south of the Border, have been quite happy to reap the benefits of the booming housing market for the last ten years. What is less clear is whether Gordon Brown and the Labour Party are prepared for the much subtler, but probably more influential, social changes which have been brought along in its wake.
And Cameron also misses the point as well, and it is not just about the ethos of achievement, it is about the parent being able to choose the ethos of the school they choose. And for some kids that isn't about exam results, it is about fulfilment at the areas they are good at. By having real parental choice, from the wallet or vouchers, parents can choose.
The EU doesn't trust us with the truth, do our leaders?
'Don't tell British about the EU treaty' | International News | News | Telegraph
The new European Union treaty will mean "transfers of sovereignty" from Britain and Gordon Brown is right to hide the fact from the public, an EU leader admitted yesterday.
Jean-Claude Juncker, Luxembourg's premier and leader of the bloc of 13 single currency members, spoke out as the Prime Minister faced rising calls for a referendum on the treaty drawn up following the rejection of the old EU constitution by French and Dutch voters in 2005.
Mr Juncker, a supporter of a United States of Europe, described the June 23 deal signed by Tony Blair as an "objective success" for friends of the EU constitution.
"There is a single legal personality for the EU, the primacy of European law, a new architecture for foreign and security policy, there is an enormous extension in the fields of the EU's powers, there is Charter of Fundamental Rights," he said, listing elements of the old constitution in the proposed treaty.
Mr Juncker said he supported public debate on the treaty - except in Britain.
"I am astonished at those who are afraid of the people: one can always explain that what is in the interest of Europe is in the interests of our countries," he told Belgian newspaper Le Soir.
"Britain is different. Of course there will be transfers of sovereignty. But would I be intelligent to draw the attention of public opinion to this fact?"
July 2, 2007
VCs and the BBC
Your search - Corporal Bill Henry APIATA source:bbc_news - did not match any documents.
The Queen has been pleased to approve the following New Zealand Gallantry Awards:
VICTORIA CROSS FOR NEW ZEALAND (V.C.)
Corporal Bill Henry APIATA (M181550) - Citation
"Lance Corporal (now Corporal) Apiata was, in 2004, part of a New Zealand Special Air Service (NZSAS) Troop on patrol in Afghanistan, which laid up in defensive formation for the night.
At approximately 0315 hours, the Troop was attacked by a group of about twenty enemy fighters, who had approached by stealth using the cover of undulating ground in pitch darkness. Rocket-propelled grenades struck two of the Troop's vehicles, destroying one and immobilising the other.
The opening strike was followed by dense and persistent machine gun and automatic rifle fire from close range.
The attack then continued using further rocket-propelled grenades and machine gun and rifle fire. The initial attack was directed at the vehicle where Lance Corporal Apiata was stationed.
He was blown off the bonnet by the impact of rocket propelled grenades striking the vehicle. He was dazed, but was not physically injured.
The two other vehicle crew members had been wounded by shrapnel; one of them, Corporal D, was in a serious condition.
Illuminated by the burning vehicle, and under sustained and accurate enemy fire directed at and around their position, the three soldiers immediately took what little cover was available. Corporal D was discovered to have sustained lifethreatening wounds. The other two soldiers immediately began applying basic first aid.
Lance Corporal Apiata assumed command of the situation, as he could see that his superior's condition was deteriorating rapidly.
By this time, however, Lance Corporal Apiata's exposed position, some seventy metres in front of the rest of the Troop, was coming under increasingly intense enemy fire. Corporal D was now suffering serious arterial bleeding and was lapsing in and out of consciousness.
Lance Corporal Apiata concluded that his comrade urgently required medical attention,or he would likely die. Pinned down by the enemy, in the direct line of fire between friend and foe, he also judged that there was almost no chance of such help reaching their position.
As the enemy pressed its attack towards Lance Corporal Apiata's position, and without thought of abandoning his colleague to save himself, he took a decision in the highest order of personal courage under fire. Knowing the risks involved in moving to open ground, Lance Corporal Apiata decided to carry Corporal D singlehandedly to the relative safety of the main Troop position, which afforded better cover and where medical treatment could be given.
He ordered his other colleague, Trooper E, to make his own way back to the rear.
In total disregard of his own safety, Lance Corporal Apiata stood up and lifted his comrade bodily. He then carried him across the seventy metres of broken, rocky and fire swept ground, fully exposed in the glare of battle to heavy enemy fire and into the face of returning fire from the main Troop position. That neither he nor his colleague were hit is scarcely possible. Having delivered his wounded companion to relative shelter with the remainder of the patrol, Lance Corporal Apiata re-armed himself and rejoined the fight in counter-attack.
By his actions, he removed the tactical complications of Corporal D's predicament from considerations of rescue.
The Troop could now concentrate entirely on prevailing in the battle itself. After an engagement lasting approximately twenty minutes, the assault was broken up and the numerically superior attackers were routed with significant casualties, with the Troop in pursuit.
Lance Corporal Apiata had thereby contributed materially to the operational success of the engagement. A subsequent medical assessment confirmed that Corporal D would probably have died of blood loss and shock, had it not been for Lance Corporal Apiata's selflessly courageous act in carrying him back to the main Troop lines, to receive the immediate treatment that he needed."
This is the first New Zealander to win the VC since World War II, and the first to win the new Victoria Cross for New Zealand which was instituted in 1999
The cross has been awarded to New Zealand servicemen in both world wars. It was also awarded to a New Zealand militiaman and to 14 Royal Navy and Imperial Army troops during the New Zealand Wars.
Recognition must also be paid to three other NZSAS members who have been decorated but can not be named:
Captain C, the New Zealand Gallantry Decoration for an exceptional act of gallantry and leadership under heavy fire and his leadership in general throughout the tour of operations.
Corporal B, the New Zealand Gallantry Decoration, for displaying outstanding courage and leadership and accepting extraordinary risks during his tour of operations.
Corporal R, the New Zealand Gallantry Medal, for gallantry and the application of firm and timely leadership under extreme combat conditions.
Join Iain's Campaign to save....
"We are hoping he will go off on his summer holidays with a pearl handled revolver in his suitcase," said one senior Lib Dem parliamentarian.
Now that isn't how nice Lib-Dems normally talk, who could they be talking about?
How to push ahead, stay back
For the best start at school, stop at home -Times Online
Like most aspirational trends it is already so rampant across the United States that it has an American name: “redshirting”.
This is an American football term, but refers to the practice of pushy parents pushing for their child to start primary school a year late. That doesn’t sound good, I hear you say. ....But science has finally proved what teachers have known for years: being the youngest in your class can damage your chances, for life.
Parents aren’t stupid. And pushy parents are the least stupid of all. Yes, we could tinker with the rule that states children in England have to start school in the year they turn 5. But the same effect is shown from Canada, which is more flexible about when a child starts school, to the more regimented Japan. Since the advantage is not in being older, but simply that you are older than your classmates, in any given group some children will always be the poor young ones.
And guess who is more likely to be among the poor young ones? Yes, the poor....
Thank you, Darlings
The Blogpower Awards;
Due to the rain I was able to sneak off from my First Life to try out a Second Life and look in at the awards - an extraordinary amount of work seemed to have been done, and the avatars were friendly to a lost and confused Englishman, many thanks for that and the award.
It was all black tie, dancing and modern beat combos.
So thanks to James and Tom who put on the show...
Don't know why theres no sun up in the sky...
The future is wet. Summer was in April - Times Online
The heavy rain that spoilt May and June looks set to stay for the rest of summer, Met Office research suggests.
Cooler sea temperatures in the Pacific Ocean prompted by the La Niña weather system, sister to El Niño, have been identified as the likely cause of summer depressions sweeping across Northern Europe....
Adam Scaife, at the Met Office, said that researchers had now discovered that La Niña also played a big role in shaping British summers.
Meteorologists have become increasingly convinced of La Niña’s knock-on effect and have detected a growing signal in the Pacific that it is kicking in strongly. Their first clue was finding a mirror-image of Britain’s current weather in the southern hemisphere, where similar bands of depressions have been sweeping 45 to 55 degrees latitude, similar latitudes to Britain and Northern Europe. “To get this sort of symmetry in both hemispheres tells us that there’s something coming from the tropics, and La Niña is by far the biggest suspect,” Dr Scaife said.
Records going back more than 100 years revealed that bouts of La Niña often coincided with summer depressions sweeping across northernmost Europe.“There’s a remarkable similarity over the past four months’ forecasts and our historical analysis. If our forecast is correct, then unusually cloudy, windy conditions may continue this summer.” ...
The Church of England took a different stance to the Met Office as to cause of the floods — senior bishops said that the severe weather were a consequence of the West’s decision to ignore the Bible.
The church leaders emphasised that while the seven people who died were innocent victims, it was man-made climate change and an “arrogant” world “reaping what we have sown” that had caused the disasters of the past week.
Oh Great, just what we need, the Church of England trying to break into the religious fundamentalism market as well.... Look Bish. leave the faith based forecasting to the Met Office......
July 1, 2007
Will Gordon Sacrifice Scotland to Win English Votes?
Scotsman.com News - Scotland - Treasury to scrap £20bn 'subsidy' from Westminster
GORDON Brown is set to tear up the funding agreement that guarantees Scotland more than £20bn in "subsidy" from Westminster every year, Treasury sources signalled last night.
The new Prime Minister has sounded the death knell for the controversial "Barnett formula" in an attempt to impose a "fairer" system of distributing billions in central government support to the nations and regions of the UK....
The funding formula, drawn up by former Labour Chief Secretary to the Treasury Joel Barnett in 1978, was designed to settle regional funding disputes in the final years of the Callaghan government. But it has lasted for almost 30 years and still guarantees every Scot some £1,500 more in public spending than counterparts south of the Border every year.
The formula's creator, now a Labour peer, is leading the campaign for a rethink amid growing dissent against preferential conditions enjoyed by Scots in areas including university funding and prescription charges.
But the Treasury has consistently resisted demands for the explosive move. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair last month said the distorted handouts were a small price to pay "to keep the UK together", and Brown has so far maintained the united front against the "English backlash".
But now Treasury officials have admitted that a shake-up is on the cards - and Scotland is unlikely to emerge from a review with its privileged position intact.
Lord Barnett is pressing for a parliamentary commission to review the entire system of distributing public funds around the UK.
"The figures are grossly unfair and clearly in need of a change, to ensure that we have a system based on genuine need," he said. "I can see why the Prime Minister might not want to abandon the formula entirely, but there is room for amendments that would make the system fairer."
However, although Barnett's formula was expected to last for only a year, successive Labour and Tory governments have maintained it - partly for fear of provoking a damaging political reaction from Scotland. ...
Gordon's English NHS Priority
In one of his last acts as chancellor, Gordon Brown apparently slashed the NHS hospital building and equipment budget in England by almost a third, from £6.2 billion to £4.2 billion. That’s quite a big cut, isn’t it? He did not feel it either prudent or necessary to tell anyone about this at the time, the Financial Times reported yesterday.
Upon opening the door to No 10 he announced the health service was his “immediate priority” – which, I suppose it was, although maybe not in the way in which you and I (or the Labour party, for that matter) might have expected. But then “it is my immediate priority to cut as much money as is humanly possible from the health service without anyone noticing, in order to balance the books” has a rather counterintuitive ring to it.
More interestingly still, while he cut the English NHS capital expenditure budget by two billion quid, he left the budgets for Wales and Scotland intact. One is forced to conclude that it is because he likes Scottish and Welsh people more than he likes English people and is thus less bothered if we die. Or perhaps he’s scared of getting a good kicking where it hurts from Alex Salmond. Either way, it is evidence yet again that north of Hadrian’s Wall and west of Offa’s Dyke, the same rules simply don’t apply.
One of these days a clever economist will produce a paper that explains how many weeks of the year we have to work to pay off in tax the money required to keep Scotland’s vast, profligate and expanding welfare state afloat. My guess is eight. Until then, the English will abide with a vague resentment and sense of chronic injustice: we let them run our affairs, vote on issues that are only of our concern, give them close to full political independence – and still continue to subsidise, subsidise, subsidise.
Yesterday the Treasury admitted – because it could not do otherwise – that the health service capital expenditure budget had been “adjusted”. My guess is that if your wage packet suddenly turned up 30% lighter you’d be tempted to use a more vigorous, apposite verb than “adjusted”.
The Treasury also indicated that the missing £2 billion would probably turn up in the spending plans for the three years from 2008-09. Yes, I bet it will. In an election year it will be suddenly announced there’s much more dosh for the NHS, a big juicy rabbit pulled straight out of Gordon’s hat.
So, to recap. Gordon Brown swipes two billion quid from the NHS in England and doesn’t tell anyone about it, keeping a straight face when he announces that the NHS is his priority. Out of political expediency there is no such cut in Scotland or Wales. In a year or so he will announce, for reasons of expediency, that, for lo, more money is available for the NHS. Whisper it quietly: Pretty. Straight. Kinda. Guy.
Children of the Revolution
Children urged to pressure parents on smoking | Uk News | News | Telegraph
As England awakes to a ban on lighting up in pubs and restaurants today, plans have been drawn up for "smoking cessation support workers" to visit schools to "educate" children about the dangers of passive smoking.
Amber Butchart and Nisha Thirkell, performance artists, children urged to pressure parents on smoking
Amber Butchart and Nisha Thirkell at the Last Gasp Masked Ball in London
The children will then be urged to return home and "stand up for their rights" by telling their mothers and fathers to stop smoking at home.
“The Cultural Revolution turned everything upside down. Political correctness was regarded as far more important than family ties. Children were encouraged to denounce their parents if they were labelled an “enemy of people” and many died brutally.” Source