May 29, 2010
I Hate Holiday Trips
It has taken many years but I have at long last worked out why I hate holiday trips.
Kids scream "I hate you, I'm leaving home" and we patronise them, "Why do you think it would be different somewhere else?"
Adults do it all the time.
If you want to see a rose red city half as old a time and haven't got the imagination to visualise it from the copious pictures and walkthroughs available to the casual browser then, fine, go and waste a week chewing sand and catching interesting diseases.
But if you just want to just "get away from it all" then travel isn't the solution. You have got something wrong with where, what or who you are living with. If you don't put that right sweating on a holiday flight isn't going to solve it.
And that is why I'll be at home this coming week.I haven't spent thousands of pounds to make my home comfortable to me to then spend a few days holiday cramped up in some Spanish idiot's idea of the minimum he can get away with for the money.
If you are going away, good luck, envy me.
May 28, 2010
Friday Night is Music Night (Summer Holiday Edition)
Enjoy the holiday weekend...
In Defence of Home Ownerism
Put capital gains tax on all homes | Oliver Kamm - Times Online
Our culture is deeply imbued with the belief that owner-occupation is not just a choice but a virtue.
Leave aside his specious arguments about how ownership ties people down (I think, but haven't got the figures, that owners are more mobile in moving than council tenants) and his tired old cliche about how boring property conversations are, it is important to point out that property ownership is a virtue, a very English virtue.
Owning your own corner of this land imbues responsibility, cohesiveness, care and respect. All virtues, I would add ambition, thrift and family to the list.
Some abacus bashers may bang on about super duper fancy taxes that would crush the curse of Land Values - I think proposing any new tax is dangerous, it only encourages the politicians - but they ignore the wider prosperity that home ownership brings. And while living in communal blocks may suit our European friends it isn't the Anglo Saxon way and Home Ownerism should and must be defended as an Englishman's right to own his own castle.
Safeguarding Vital Jobs in Scotland
A SCOTTISH Government agency created to get youngsters off the dole was last night criticised for spending more than £500,000 of taxpayers' money on a branding exercise at a time when Scotland is struggling with youth unemployment.
The Skills Development Scotland agency was attacked for earmarking £260,000 for 2010-11 plus £295,000 for the following financial year to publicise itself through new signs, new letterheads and corporate advertising.
The row blew up after Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray told MSPs that Skills Development Scotland was re-branding itself as Scotland The Works under a £555,000 "visual identity transition" and was planning to spend £1.68m marketing its new name.
Ministers said there was no name change and other costs were used to promote vital, job-creating services.
Job-creating, certainly. Vital, absolutely, the last thing Scotland needs is herds of pony tailed graphic designers out on the streets frightening the women and children when they can be safely chained to their Apples designing "visual identities". I'm happy to dip into my wages to help pay for this conservation scheme.
Science Museum to "Prove It" Again
A forum to make sense of climate science | Chris Rapley | Environment | guardian.co.uk
The Science Museum's new gallery aims to deepen the understanding of those who accept man-made global warming and inform those who are unsure.
There is evidence that reactions to climate change are often strongly influenced by people's beliefs and values. Healthy scepticism, in which claims are examined with an open mind and facts followed to their conclusion, is often replaced by a closed-minded pursuit of a prejudged position, of acceptance or denial. The situation is not helped by the discussion being framed as a debate, in which it is assumed that one "side" has the right answer, and that the purpose of the exercise is to seek out flaws and defend assumptions in order to win the argument.
This is where the Science Museum can play a helpful role. Our purpose is to make sense of the science that shapes our lives. Our gallery – "atmosphere: exploring climate science" – which will open in November, will provide a dedicated, immersive space for visitors to deepen their understanding of climate science in an enjoyable, engaging and memorable way
Will it be more successful than the last one?
May 27, 2010
Nullius in Verba
The UK's Royal Society is reviewing its public statements on climate change after 43 Fellows complained that it had oversimplified its messages.
They said the communications did not properly distinguish between what was widely agreed on climate science and what is not fully understood.
The motto, "nullius in verba", is Latin for "Take nobody's word for it", and was adopted to signify the Fellows' determination to establish facts via experiments.
Excellent news that maybe they are going back to their roots.
Independent Testing Results of Armorlace and other boot laces
Feeding the Mind and Body
President Mugabe’s stranglehold on the press all but collapsed yesterday when a newly constituted independent media commission announced that it had formally licenced six new newspapers, four of them dailies, to publish in Zimbabwe.
Excellent news - especially for the hungry because we know -
A 1 percent increase in newspaper circulation is associated with a 2.4 percent increase in public food distribution and a 5.5 percent increase in calamity relief expenditures. Greater political competition is associated with higher levels of public food distribution. Public food distribution is also higher in election and pre-election years. In addition, government is also more responsive to a given shock when newspaper circulation is higher. That is, when food production falls or flood damage occurs governments increase food distribution and calamity relief more in states where newspaper circulation is higher.
Save Money By Crime
Britain’s ballooning prison population is a disastrous mess | Harry Woolf - Times Online
In such a severe economic crisis it is folly to have policies that make the prison population substantially higher than is necessary. Many US states are introducing policies to cut the number of prisoners, which, in turn, has cut reoffending. We must do the same.
I would like to know where he gets his US proof from - my understanding is summarised:
The Great California Prison Experiment - Freakonomics
letting out the prisoners is more or less a wash from a societal cost-benefit perspective. The money we save from freeing the prisoners is on the same order of magnitude as the pain and suffering associated with the extra crime.
A Famine of Ideas
Growing population, dependence on monoculture, a food economy geared to exports and concentrated in the hands of a few players, neoliberal economics meeting climate shock ending in catastrophic failure of food supply – we could be talking about common concerns over food security in the coming decades...
We have, in other words, a food system that is failing...
It delivers an excess of food that is unhealthy for the affluent and yet is incapable of producing enough calories for the poor. And it is a system in which the value of the food chain has been captured at each point, from seed to field to factory to shop, by powerful transnational corporations.... all but the most intensive and large-scale farmers are being driven off the land, many of the poorest forced into migration.
It is a system of extraordinary sophistication and yet also of startling fragility, vulnerable to climate shocks and energy price spikes. But it has not been created by accident. US and European government policies postwar have fostered it – with agricultural subsidies that have encouraged surplus of their own commodity crops, and with trade agreements and loans through international financial institutions that have forced markets in poorer countries open to take those crops and the processed junk diets their manufacturers like to make of them.
Last weekend, I joined several hundred people gathered under a blazing sky in Ireland's County Mayo for the annual Famine Walk from Doolough Lake to the tiny town of Louisburgh organised by the Irish campaign group Afri
The hundreds walking through the Mayo valley last weekend were not just engaged in an act of remembrance. They were voting with their feet for change..
It reminds me of a book I read recently Henry Williamson's "Story of a Norfolk Farm" (1941) in which the central thesis is that the soil was degraded in the 19th century and the nation's health debased by "cosmopolitan big business" (i.e. the Jews) importing huge amounts of nitrate fertilisers and promoting white bread. It's a crazy jumble of ideas - but over in occupied Europe a great many people were already dying from them.
And now it is Africa they die from them - the cure for general starvation is known -
“…no famine has taken place in the history of the world in a functioning democracy – be it economically rich (as in Western Europe or North America) or relatively poor (as in post independence India, or Botswana or Zimbabwe.” Amartya Sen. 2001. Development as Freedom. p.16
“Perhaps the most important reform that can contribute to the elimination of famines, in Africa as well as in Asia, is the enhancement of democratic practice, unfettered newspapers and – more generally – adversarial politics.” Amartya Sen. 1990. Public Action to Remedy Hunger.
May 26, 2010
Cry Freedom, over a rather decent glass of wine
Join The Free Society and other groups for a series of cutting edge debates. Venue: the Institute of Economic Affairs, 2 Lord North Street, Westminster, London SW1
Enjoy pre-event drinks courtesy Boisdale of Belgravia. Then engage in rigorous discussion with leading writers, journalists and opinion formers.
June 3, 10, 15, 24, 29
Entry to all debates is free
Strictly RSVP only
or telephone 01223 370156
Habitual Suicide Makes New Attempt
Europe will introduce a surprise new plan today to combat global warming, committing Britain and the rest of the EU to the most ambitious targets in the world. The plan proposes a massive increase in the target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions in this decade.
The European Commission is determined to press ahead with the cuts despite the financial turmoil gripping the bloc, even though it would require Britain and other EU member states to impose far tougher financial penalties on their industries than are being considered by other large economies
Rasputin was poisoned with cyanide, shot in the back, then clubbed, then shot twice more, and then dumped in the freezing river Neva, where he died of hypothermia.
Someone somewhere is determined to destroy us, I'm just not sure how many more attempts they will make before we get wrapped in the blanket and chucked in the water.
Himlayan Glaciers New Report New Dangers
He said there was hardly any exposed rock on the trail to the summit when he first climbed Everest in 1989, but now the slopes are dotted with bare rocks.
The world’s highest mountain is becoming an increasingly popular tourist destination, with a procession of novice climbers scaling the summit
A report by scientists at University College London said the Himalayan glaciers are retreating faster than many others around the world, at rates ranging from 10 to 60 metres per year.
Professor Steve Edwards, an earth scientist who coauthored the report, titled The Waters of the Third Pole, said the effects of glacial melting posed a real risk to climbers.
And increased snow and ice would do what for climbers?
Semper aliquid novi Africam adferre
Most Africans are poorer today than they were 50 years ago. This may not prove that aid does not work, but it poses some very difficult questions: why is it that a continent that has attracted about $1 trillion in assistance is much worse off than at independence about 50 years ago? Then, countries such as Sierra Leone and Ghana had GDPs the same size or even larger than South Korea or Vietnam. Why is it that an idea that seemed so right, giving help to the poor, has proved so wrong?
The aid community has been adept at diverting attention from its failures by suggesting that critics are suffering from a lack of compassion...
In Africa, it has been an open secret for decades that aid not only does not work, but is downright destructive. In fragile dictatorial societies it has trapped recipients in a vicious circle of corruption, market distortion and even greater poverty. In contrast, the private sector invests at grassroots level, building houses and clinics for staff — not out of humanitarianism, but because a happy and healthy workforce is in its commercial interest. In such ways many more people have been lifted out of poverty than by aid policies.
Trade not Aid - break the dependency culture. To suggest Africa can only survive on handouts is to say Africans are incapable and to provide comfy jobs for benevolent westerners to oversee them.
May 25, 2010
Polar Bears Will Starve If They Don't Eat
Climate change will trigger a dramatic and sudden decline in the number of polar bears, a new study has concluded.
The research is the first to directly model how changing climate will affect polar bear reproduction and survival.
However, these projections are essentially educated guesses, based on experts judging or extrapolating how current population trends might continue as the climate changes.
"mortality will dramatically increase when a certain threshold is passed; for example, while starvation mortality is currently negligible, up to one-half of the male population would starve if the fasting season in Western Hudson Bay was extended from currently four to about six months."
So if you don't eat for a long time you will die, no shit Sherlock. Thank goodness for modern research based on models because; until now, most studies measuring polar bear survival have relied on a method called "mark and recapture".
This involves repeatedly catching polar bears in a population over several years, which is cost and time-intensive.
That measuring stuff in the real world is like so old fashioned....
Reach out and touch
The future of the standard issue infantry rifle used by American troops in Afghanistan is under review amid concerns that it is the wrong weapon for the job.
With its light bullets the M4 rifle lacks sufficient velocity and killing power in long-range firefights, leaving US troops outgunned by the Taleban and their AK47 Kalashnikovs and the old Russian SVD sniper rifle.
The reassessment echoes the shooting lessons that Britain learnt in the 1839-1842 war in Afghanistan, when they discovered that their Brown Bess muskets could not reach sharpshooters firing heavier-calibre Jezzail flintlocks. The Russians, too, had problems when they occupied Afghanistan in the 1980s: their AK47s failed to match the Second World War bolt-action Lee-Enfield and Mauser rifles used by the Mujahidin.
The US experience, in contrast, was gleaned in Vietnam. The early standard rifle was the M14, which fired 7.62mm rounds but was judged to be too heavy in jungle warfare and was replaced by a lighter-firing rifle that became the M4.
British Forces face the same dilemma but the Ministry of Defence said yesterday that there was no plan to review the SA80A2 rifle...
So the M4 is outshot by the AK-47, which was outshot by the Lee Enfield, the solution is obvious. Go back to the Lee Enfield, and no need for any wussy short model either. And don't forget the bayonets...
Women and Children First
Cuts, axes, front line services... It is just a shave, a single bladed shave. There is no excuse for alarmist talk and using the valuable and vulnerable as hostages. That is despicable.
A Suitable Diet
The ethics of veggie cats and dogs | Environment | guardian.co.uk
This week is National Vegetarian Week, the annual celebration of all things vegetarian. Taking the veggie option has never been easier for people, but what about vegetarian pets?
I used to have a dog that all he wanted to eat was vegetarians, hippies and lay-abouts...
Budgets and Olympics on the mind at Stormont 'summit' - Scotsman.com News
Northern Ireland's deputy first minister Martin McGuinness welcomes Alex Salmond to Stormont yesterday. Northern Ireland leader Peter Robinson and the Welsh leader, Carwyn Jones look on.
Speaking at Stormont in Belfast, where he was trying to forge a Celtic alliance against Westminster, the First Minister said the new coalition government's "respect" agenda would be judged on "actions and deeds, not just in terms of words and rhetoric".
The First Minister added: "We found a great deal of common ground between the administrations of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales in terms of what has been termed a respect agenda.
The gang then moved on to the traffic lights to wash windows and sell roses.....
May 24, 2010
A papercut, not an amputation
George Osborne to unveil £6bn of spending cuts as era of austerity begins
George Osborne will unveil a £6billion package of spending cuts on Monday that will lead to the elimination of thousands of civil service jobs, sweeping efficiency measures across Whitehall and “painful” retrenchment in the wider public sector.
"Era of austerity"? A small rounding error on the £156 billion deficit, which is a massive understatement of the true figure.
Interest in climate change fell from 80% of respondents in 2006, to 71% last year and now stands at only 62%.
The number of climate change agnostics – those unsure whether human activity is warming the planet – has risen from 25% in 2007 to 33% now.
How many of those 33% are in the interested category? I would guess a fair percentage as unsureness is a rational response to an interest. The more you learn the less certain you can become. It is knowing the things we don't know, rather than the cockiness of a prejudice.
It asks what sort of country do we want to live in.
I'm worried that there may be a secret camera watching me down the barn, stroking my collection of hempen lengths; " Soon, my lovelies, soon".
Decline and Fall
We can take no pleasure from the euro's fall - Telegraph
Euro-sceptics should not gloat over the eurozone crisis – we'll feel the pinch too, says Boris Johnson.
I know very little about international currency trading but from a British point of view I keep asking "what fall?".
Yes the euro has dropped against many currencies but the pound seems to be keeping up with it pretty well.
If the euro is dropping because it is a basket case, and the pound is falling beside it, what does that say about us?
May 23, 2010
Mobile Cash Machines
Wiltshire Police increase cost for speed workshop
From 1 June the cost of the course will rise from £60 to £80.
Wiltshire Police said more than 14,000 drivers had chosen to attend the course in the past year.
Official Answer: Because they just want people to drive safer and the money isn't a factor.
Unofficial Answer: Britain's speed camera system is run by more than 40 regional road safety partnerships, made up of representatives from police, courts and councils.
The partnerships are funded by the Department of Transport, which demands that each region gives target figures for the number of motorists they plan to catch speeding over the next year. If these targets are not met, then Whitehall cuts the size of its funding.
This has the effect of making the local partnership set low targets, rather than risk losing cash by falling short of predictions. And that is good news for the Government, since the system is geared so that any extra fines go to the Treasury.
But as the Wiltshire Safety Camera Partnership knows they are going to catch more motorists than their quota the local unit has no interest in sending those "extra" fines to the Treasury. But if they run a workshop then the motorist doesn't pay a fine, he pays the Wiltshire Safety Camera Partnership who get to keep the money, apart from having to rent a cheap room and whiteboard...
No that is silly - I must keep repeating the "Wiltshire Safety Camera Partnership are not interested in the money..."
Nice sunny day so all the windows open, Mrs E out in the garden, a chance I thought to mend a couple of bits of furniture by sticking the bits that had fallen off back on.
Hoof glue is the only stuff to use, but when simmering it on the stove you really need all the windows open, it smells... just like boiling up very dead horses would smell.
I use an old sardine can so there is no washing up. Mahogany all glued the tin was put out on top of the wheelie bin to cool.
Ten minutes later I look out and the dog is licking it out after climbing up to get it and dribbling it as he carried his trophy back to his bed.. He now has hoof glue all round his whiskers and smells, and the house smells, and the dog bed smells...
I'm in the dog house again, but at least he hasn't barked all day...
Barney McGrew, Cuthbert Dibble and Grubb on Glacier Melting
Lewis says he took part in the swim to bring the "world's attention" to the melting of glaciers and its effect on the region.
He said: ''The glaciers in the Himalayas are not just ice. They are a lifeline - they provide water to approximately two billion people.''
Thank goodness they are melting then, if they didn't melt those two billion would have nothing to drink.....
Getting Dizzy With Climate Change - Lie Back and Enjoy It
Springwatch finds the BBC in cloud cuckoo land - Telegraph
Last Monday, in its obsession with global warming, the BBC got comically caught out. It devoted a whole hour-long edition of its popular nature programme Springwatch to one of the more familiar themes of warmist propaganda, the way in which springs have been noticeably moving forwards in recent decades, with flowers, tree leaves and much else appearing weeks earlier than they used to do.
I don't know much about garden design but I agree with the dictum laid down by one of the Rothschilds - "However small your garden is you should have at least quarter of an acre of native woodland in it". Even if you aren't lucky enough to be able to follow that advice this is the weekend where you should follow Benjamin Disraeli's example. Every year on this weekend he went back to his beloved Chilterns and took some time out to lie down under some beech trees and marvel at the freshest, brightest green of their newly minted leaves.
But that was the second weekend in May - this year my beech are only just coming out this week - the fourth weekend...
Voices From The Grave - Review
Here, in a dramatic break with the unwritten laws of paramilitary omerta, two leading figures from opposing sides reveal their involvement in bombings, shootings and killings and speak frankly about how differently their wars came to an end.
In extensive interviews given to researchers from Boston College in America, they spoke with astonishing openness about their turbulent, violent lives. With their deaths, their stories can now be told.
Brendan Hughes was a legend in the Republican movement. An 'operator', a gun-runner and mastermind of some of the most savage IRA violence of the Troubles, he was a friend and close ally of Gerry Adams and was by his side during the most brutal years of the conflict.
David Ervine was the most substantial political figure to emerge from the world of Loyalist paramilitaries. A former UVF bomber and confidante of its long-time leader Gusty Spence, Ervine helped steer Loyalism's gunmen towards peace, persuading the UVF's leaders to target IRA and Sinn Fein activists and push them down the road to a ceasefire. Alone of all the Unionist groupings in Northern Ireland, Ervine's UVF was the first to spot the IRA's readiness to end its war.
For David Ervine, the UVF's war ended in victory as Northern Ireland's place in the United Kingdom was made more secure than ever before. For Brendan Hughes, the IRA had met defeat, its leaders exchanging power and prestige for the goal of an Irish Republic. These are the voices of truth; of two men who had nothing to lose by telling the truth, and as such they make a significant contribution to historical understanding.
Voices from the Grave by Ed Moloney is not an easy book to read, not because it is not well written but because it is crammed thick with detail and revelations that make you stop and think. The press has loved some of the revelations but I found the exposure of the minutiae more interesting than what Gerry Adams said to whom when.
While is comforting for many of us to have simplistic views of The Troubles, if you want to understand the past, and future, then read it.
Brown aims to win election - Salmond Leaping for Joy
We can reveal that the former Prime Minister has asked to be given a role in the party's forthcoming Holyrood contest. In an interview with Scotland on Sunday, Scottish Labour party leader Iain Gray says that Brown's offer, in an unsolicited letter, has been taken up by the party as it begins its attempt to unseat Alex Salmond at the Scottish Parliamentary elections in less than a year's time.
Unsolicited? I wonder why they hadn't thought to ask him. I'm sure they will want him to front up the election, or maybe he could stay in the backroom sticking stamps on.
RIP RIPA Please
Councils use anti-terror powers to check for dog collars - Telegraph
In Workington, Cumbria, officials used the powers to investigate whether a dog was illegally being allowed out without a collar and tag. The animal was monitored and photographed in order to gather evidence.
A spokeswoman for the Local Government Association said: "We do recognise there are concerns over the use of surveillance powers by councils and all public authorities that use them do have a responsibility to use them in a way that is acceptable to local people. These powers should only be used for serious crimes such as fly-tipping, benefit fraud and rogue trading. They should be proportionate and reasonable."
"serious crimes such as fly-tipping, benefit fraud and rogue trading." - Serious? They aren't bloody terrorism, they don't endanger the economic wellbeing of the country, they are just squalid little crimes, done by squalid little people and only considered serious enough to invoke anti-terrorism powers by other squalid little people.
To be frank I prefer the odd mattress dumped in a lay-by to a council snoop with camera being there.
May 22, 2010
What are MPs for?
“What am I for?” asked one MP plaintively, before launching into a tirade against the leader who had plunged his party into coalition and then denied him a job.
The lost soul was rescued from his existential crisis by a couple of friendly faces from another party who stepped in before he said anything too loudly that he would later regret. But his question has echoed around Westminster all week as Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs, with their divergent policies and priorities, try to get used to the idea of being one happy Government.
If you don't know what you are for, what about the poor voters who don't know what they voted for?
Cracking Weather Eh Gromett?
Met Office predicts ‘ice-cream weather’ this weekend - Times Online
“We are in for two cracking days this weekend. It is real ice-cream weather,” said Barry Gromett of the Met Office. “Much of the country will have 25C and the big cities will have possible maximum temperatures of 28C"
After a lovely Friday predicting Saturday and Sunday on Saturday shouldn't be too hard, but I'll pack a mac just in case. But you just have to love a man call Grommet giving in and using the word cracking.
The truth about mosquitoes upsets warmists.
Researchers criticised for saying mosquito control is more infuential than a warming world in the spread of malaria.
Matthew Thomas, researcher at Pennsylvania State University, United States, said that the study "plays down the potential importance of climate [change]".
"It is very easy to come up with a superficial model," he said, adding that this controversial area requires better science and more investigation of basic biology before reaching any firm conclusions about climate effects on malaria.
Superficial? Let's make it easy for our American friend - do you remember The Little House on The Prairie? The whole annoying family went down with "Fever 'n' Ague" or as we would call it Malaria.
Controlling malaria is all about controlling mosquitos. A degree here or there makes no difference if you don't get bitten by an infected mossie.
May 21, 2010
Friday Night is Music Night (Cold Steel Edition)
Confined to Barracks
No supping of ale for me tonight, not after last week.
Have you ever seen a flap sprinkler on an irrigator?
Have you ever leant back to let loose half a gallon of Mr Wadworth's best that is due for recycling?
The sheer unstoppable relief.
Have you ever been given a nice thick leather belt from Texas?
The sort of belt with a buckle that one undoes to ease the pressure of said half a gallon before one gets home.
The sort that has a thick flappy bit that hangs down once undone.
That's why I'm not allowed out tonight.
Coalition Kindergärtner Colour Mixer
Caroline Spelman, the new Environment Secretary, has pledged to make the new Government 'the greenest we have ever had'.
Mrs Spelman, who described herself as a keen recycler and composter, said Britain will be a zero waste society and pledged to help communities plant one million new trees.
Ruth Davis, senior political advisor to Greenpeace UK, said there needed to be more detail to the environmental pledges in the coalition agreement.
“The coalition’s commitment to push forward the international process is encouraging, but on most of the environmental issues mentioned here, we still don’t have the all-important numbers....
Sea Level Latest
WalesOnline - News - Wales News - Rising sea levels warning
RISING sea levels may force people to abandon their homes within decades and the Assembly Government has not taken the urgent action Wales needs, a cross-party report published today will warn.
AFP: Rising sea levels threaten Taiwan...global warming is slowly, almost imperceptibly piling pressure on Taiwan.
Mountains cover two thirds of Taiwan, but the heart of the island's economy is concentrated in the remaining third, which stretches down the west coast and consists mostly of flat land near sea level.
I'm sure you can see the need for an urgent panic.
Coalition Europhilia Disgust
‘Don’t worry, wait until after the election. Dave will show what he’s made of and get our powers back’ was the paraphrased sentiment uttered by some of the regulars on ConservativeHome. ‘He’s just playing the EU down until after the election’ claimed a number of commentators. ‘He is very Eurosceptic really’ opined others. All clutched at straws and prayed for a Cameron victory so the UK could assert its primacy again and take back – with EU consent, natch – some of the key powers that a sovereign nation should possess for itself.
espite multiple promises, each less robust than the previous one, David Cameron has completed his journey from supposed Eurosceptic to paid-up Europhile, thus cementing his position as just another lying politician. The promise to negotiate the repatriation of powers from the EU has been replaced with this meaningless pledge :
‘We will examine the balance of the EU’s existing competences.’
A substantial number of people – opposed to the provisions of Lisbon but prepared to suspend their disbelief and give Cameron the benefit of the doubt because of the pledge to negotiate the repatriation of powers from the EU – voted Conservative in good faith. They are just about to discover they have been conned, tricked, lied to, by a self serving and sleazy control freak who will abandon any principle or promise as long as it results in power or personal gain.
Coalition Mach Frei
We will ban the sale of alcohol below cost price.
We will review alcohol taxation and pricing to ensure it tackles binge drinking without unfairly penalising responsible drinkers, pubs and important local industries.
We will overhaul the Licensing Act to give local authorities and the police much stronger powers to remove licences from, or refuse to grant licences to, any premises that are causing problems.
We will double the maximum fine for under-age alcohol sales to £20,000.
We will permit local councils to charge more for late-night licences to pay for additional policing.
We will promote better recording of hate crimes against disabled, homosexual and transgender people, which are frequently not centrally recorded.
We will introduce a system of temporary bans on new ‘legal highs’ while health issues are considered by independent experts.
If that is increasing freedom and personal responsibility for our own actions then I'm Mary Poppins.
May 20, 2010
Ms Merkel believes that the EU should have stronger powers to organise the “orderly insolvency” of countries such as Greece that set giveaway budgets with no means of paying for them. After announcing a ban on speculative share trading in Germany’s top financial institutions and the bonds of eurozone countries until next March, she warned: “This challenge is existential and we have to rise to it. The euro is in danger. If we don’t deal with this danger, then the consequences for us in Europe are incalculable . . . If the euro fails, then Europe fails.”
Her apocalyptic warning came as David Cameron prepared for his first visit as Prime Minister to Paris and Berlin, where he is likely to come under pressure to commit more British funds to EU bailout programmes.
An “orderly insolvency” of the euro would be kinder to all of us than the crash that is approaching. It is going to get ugly, and expensive.
RSPB's tips on how to stop your cat making a meal of birds in your garden
According to the RSPB, 27 million birds are killed every year in this country by the 7.2 million cats UK residents keep as pets. That means our feline companions are supplementing the £829m we spend on cat food every year with their own avian breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The charity admits that while there is evidence that cats tend to take weak or sickly birds, there is no scientific proof that predation by cats in gardens is having any impact on bird populations.
27 million birds gone but of course they aren't going to make tibby owning donors feel guilty...
The tips are useless, of course, no where do they discuss if a 9mm or .410 garden gun is better...
σαρκάζω, as I'm sure you would say it
Devised by computer scientists at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the algorithm has been programmed to recognise sarcasm in lengthy texts by analysing patterns of phrases and punctuation often used to indicate irony.
In addition to producing an algorithm with a remarkable success rate, the researchers also drew some intriguing conclusions about why people use sarcasm online.
"Intriguing?" Really? I'd love you to tell me more.
The Dash for Cash
THE windfall in Scotland's grasp from offshore renewable energy has been unveiled for the first time in a major new report that reveals it could power the country seven times over within four decades.
Taking the form of more than 20,000 wind, wave and tidal devices, this would equate to more than 18 times the current amount of installed renewables in Scotland – enough to power the country more than seven times over.
It would generate £14 billion profit from electricity sales by 2050 and provide about 60,000 jobs in Scotland, according to the report by the Offshore Valuation Group, a coalition of government and industry organisations.
However, it would require vast amounts of investment, an estimated £4bn each year in Scotland alone...A spokesman for the Scottish Government acknowledged that investing in offshore renewables was "expensive".
SNP MSP Rob Gibson argued the potential financial rewards added to arguments for independence, so that the £14bn revenue from electricity sales could remain in Scotland.
Let the wind blow high, let the wind blow low,
Through the streets in my kilt I'll go,
And all the lassies shout hello
Donald where'syour troosers?
If you really believe that the investment will really produce a profit go for it, and you are welcome to to it. Why do I have an unworthy suspicion that the "investment" will actually be my mulcted taxes and the "returns" will be all yours?
May 19, 2010
Wankalot and Handyspill the Olympic Precum
London Olympics 2012: Meet Wenlock and Mandeville, drips off the old block | UK news | The Guardian
Fashioned from droplets of the steel used to build the Olympic stadium with a single large eye made out of a camera lens
How appropriate for our CCTV infested land - and the promise of extra "security" for the fascist gamesfest.
I'm sure the other two mascots will appreciate them.
Giving Organic Food the Bird
When offered both varieties of wheat seed, they were able to discern between the two and ate up to 20 per cent more of the conventional grown variety than the organic.
Dr Ailsa McKenzie, lead researcher based at Newcastle University's School of Biology, said the findings are likely to add to the debate over the relative merits of consuming organic food.
"Our results suggest that the current dogma that organic food is preferred to conventional food may not always be true," she said.
"We have long lost our instinctive ability to know which food is the most nutritious for us but birds have not. They instinctively chose the non-organic food."
Scotland to get more independence, can England be far behind?
A senior source at the Scotland Office has confirmed that the recommendations by the Calman Commission are to be introduced in the first raft of legislation by the new Conservative/Liberal Democrat government unveiled on Tuesday.
This will include controversial powers to control the top slice of income tax, allowing MSPs to reduce it by as much as 10p or increase it as far as they want. It will also allow the Scottish Parliament – with Treasury permission – to create its own devolved taxes, such as the SNP's proposal for a centrally set local income tax to replace the council tax.
Excellent, I wish them well on their journey to independence. My advice would be for them to slash all the rates and watch as Edinburgh fills up with the highly paid wealth creators.
But if Scotland sets its own taxes then the West Lothian question grows even stronger and the case for the English subsidy weaker.
The Tory nation south of the border may come to power sooner than you think.
The Home of Harrumphing
Sweet subsidies turn sour in E16 - Times Online
Question: which constituency has received the most farm subsidies from Brussels over the past decade? Answer: leafy East Ham in the East End of London, because Tate & Lyle’s Silvertown sugar refinery is there. Such figures could not be issued before the election and so this odd fact has just been released, leading to much harrumphing on political blogsites.
One Cheer One Boo for Moonbat
I wanted to be convinced of the benefits but the figures don't work – nor, for this little island, does a plan for perpetual growth
A loud cheer for Georgie as he points out that the Green Emperor of Railways has no clothes - he may even one day realise that existing passenger travel on railways also doesn't stack up greenywise.
But his argument that we must stop being so busy on this lovely little Island is a mere prejudice and just Moonbattery
May 18, 2010
An Hereditary Freeborn Englishman
That is the only document I have about my birth or where I came from; many years ago I saw another with a surname on it, but whose that was I don't know. And I don't intend to find out any more.
I'm a freeborn Englishman, untroubled by genetics, proud of my family and culture.
1. The genetic transmission of characteristics from parent to offspring.
2. The sum of characteristics and associated potentialities transmitted genetically to an individual organism.
Appearing in or characteristic of successive generations.
Derived from or fostered by one's ancestors.
It's my Birthday and I'll cry if I want to
Happiness begins at 50 claims new research - Telegraph
Stress, anger and worry fade after the landmark birthday when we begin experiencing greater daily joy than younger adults, it is claimed.
So only one more year of being a grumpy sod...
There is no money
Even a broken watch tells the truth twice a day.
Little Georgie is busy trying to scare us as to how harsh his emergency budget is going to be. With the Lib Dems "protecting Social Justice" (and Lib Dem jobs) I fear it is going to be a paper tiger which bites just in the wrong places.
Try Saying No
We are raised, the theory runs, in one of two cultures. In Ask culture, people grow up believing they can ask for anything – a favour, a pay rise– fully realising the answer may be no. In Guess culture, by contrast, you avoid "putting a request into words unless you're pretty sure the answer will be yes… A key skill is putting out delicate feelers. If you do this with enough subtlety, you won't have to make the request directly; you'll get an offer. Even then, the offer may be genuine or pro forma; it takes yet more skill and delicacy to discern whether you should accept."
Neither's "wrong", but when an Asker meets a Guesser, unpleasantness results. An Asker won't think it's rude to request two weeks in your spare room, but a Guess culture person will hear it as presumptuous and resent the agony involved in saying no. Your boss, asking for a project to be finished early, may be an overdemanding boor – or just an Asker, who's assuming you might decline. If you're a Guesser, you'll hear it as an expectation. This is a spectrum, not a dichotomy, and it explains cross-cultural awkwardnesses, too: Brits and Americans get discombobulated doing business in Japan, because it's a Guess culture, yet experience Russians as rude, because they're diehard Askers.
But Guessers can take solace in logic: in many social situations (though perhaps not at work) the very fact that you're receiving an anxiety-inducing request is proof the person asking is an Asker. He or she is half-expecting you'll say no, and has no inkling of the torture you're experiencing. So say no, and see what happens. Nothing will.
Of course us English are the ultimate guessers, never asking except in the most apologising way and then only if we already know the answer: "Would you mind awfully if I could pour myself another cup of tea? I really hope it isn't too inconvenient if I park my gunboat here?...
But some of us are practising saying No, but sometimes it comes out all wrong. "Can I count on your vote this election?" provoked a most unseemly response from me, for which I apologise.
Join Us Against The J Arthurs of Hackney
The local Labour Politburo is being acting as they are wont to do, your help is requested.
49 years ago today I was born in South Hackney so I'm already a citizen....
May 17, 2010
Get the Candles in for the Lib Dems
We have seen before how cavalier Huhne is with data misrepresentation. If he is allowed to carry on with his pro-wind and anti-nuclear campaign from a position of Governmental authority, power cuts are inevitable and will be dire. People are going to die.
The Reformation 2.0
Just when they have sorted out the number of angels on a pinhead now they are upset over who says "Take, eat: this is my body".
Luckily technology has the answer:
Robot conducts Japanese wedding
Wine in a vending machine, bread in a bin with a strict sign about using tongs and I think we have solved the whole troublesome priest thing.
A Wind Up Survey
Kilt voted world's favourite traditional item of clothing - The Japanese kimono came second in the international attire list, while the Hawaiian grass skirt was third.
Aye Jimmy, beats a hula dancer every time.....
Spanish and Russian Refs Strangle Kittens
England’s hopes of hosting the 2018 World Cup were thrown into turmoil yesterday when Lord Triesman resigned as chairman of the FA after claiming that Spain and Russia were planning to bribe referees during next month’s tournament.
It had passed me by that England was bidding to host the Girly Touchball Games - apparently "Becks" has handed over a 200 page book, and I gather he did all the colouring in himself with out any help. Lord Triesman had also passed me by but then I'm not a follower of ex-Communists, Labour hacks, Trade unionist or Cambridge Fellows (tautology alert).
But he may have performed the one useful service of his sorry life by pointing out that corruption and international sporting events go together like a horse and carriage.
And to reinforce it let me make clear that Russian referees are the Spaniards bitches, and we really don't want the circus here.
From a comment:
May 16, 2010
Here Comes the Summer
The country wants it, research indicates it, but nobody dares to say it out loud. Whisper it then: maybe, just maybe, we could be heading for a barbecue summer.
Here's hoping, the kids deserve one, though the music won't be as good, and the alarmists would be annoying.....
Play it again...
Brain Frying Tonight
There is some heavy data digging going on here - if you can't wait until the next results are prised out in to the open and are sceptical of the pre-release media highlights here is a link to the previous summary.
The biggest risk to heavy mobile phone uses is that you will become a tedious bore, annoying all around you.
In the largest study of its kind, environmental health observers in 16 London boroughs observed secondary school pupils as they waited, often in long queues, to buy chips, chicken dishes, deep-fried sausages and pies. The officers then bought portions of the 73 dishes that were most popular with the children and had them nutritionally analysed. Most were unhealthy, some of them alarmingly so.
There used to be a name for shifty men who hung around where school kids gathered at lunchtime....
The German Plan for European Unification
German chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday in a televised speech about the future of the European Union:
“If the euro fails, not only the currency fails. Europe fails too and the idea of European unification. We have a common currency but no common political and economic union. And this is exactly what we must change — therein lies the opportunity of this crisis.”
Whoa! Parse that and it becomes arguable that the leader of the most powerful country in Europe has admitted that the idea of unification, the creation of an equivalent to the United States of America, is a long-term project upon which the EU is embarked. It may be expressed rarely in such bald terms for fear it would spook the citizens of individual states too greatly but it constitutes the objective.
Can the goal be made any clearer?
May 14, 2010
Sweet Farm Subsidies
Farm Subsidy by Constituency tells us which UK area gets the most farm subsidy.
Which bucolic Tory shire would you guess?
The answer: East Ham
Yes, East Ham in London tops the list with twice as much as the next ones, the Berwicks, a total of €763,726,965.82
And it all went to Tate & Lyle.
C Czarnikow Sugar Ltd only got €99,316,783.17 but then they are based in Islington where the soil isn't so fertile.
Guido points out that This week Cameron appointed Caroline Spelman to be the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Spelman spent her days before becoming an MP in the agri-business, with a lobbying focus mainly on sugar beet, one of the most heavily subsidised crops in Europe. She was the Sugar Beet Commodity Secretary for the NFU in the early eighties before becoming Deputy Director of the International Confederation of European Beet Growers. Seemingly well connected in the field, Caroline and her husband Mark went on to set up “Spelman, Cormack & Associates” in 1989 as a food and bio-technology lobbying company.
For over ten years the new Secretary of State, along with her husband, lobbied the very department she now runs. Caroline resigned as a director less than a year ago and conveniently transferred her share of the company to her husband.
Big business sugar. Big subsidies. We are lucky to have someone who understands them representing the taxpayer when they come up for discussion.
(An explanation as to how these subsidies keep us yeomen, rather than the Mr Tate or Mr Lyle, in Ferraris is here at Tim's)
Friday Night is Music Night (Rose Smith Special Edition)
I posted the video sometime ago, chosen partly because it is the only one I can find featuring the loveliest of the Ikettes - Rose Smith.
My toiling in the blogyard was all made worthwhile when, out of the blue, Rose Smith sent me a nice comment, followed by this email:
I have just started my research into that whole rock experience, and perhaps I can land something that would be interesting to place on your blog. In the meantime, I will look in often to see what's going on in your world.
P.S. You may post whatever I send from now on (although it will be sometime out), starting with the note above or paraphrase it for me. Attached is a pix to put with it. I don't take pictures that often.
Pictures below the fold. I'm still stunned.
First Night Ashore
The coalition's plans outlined so far on the deficit quickly came under City scrutiny, with one institution warning that in their current state they would actually worsen the country's budget position.
Credit Suisse said the measures announced would add close to £10bn per year to the deficit, contrasting with the incoming government's emphasis on the need for "a significantly accelerated reduction".
The easiest solution would be a VAT rise, Credit Suisse added.
No, the easiest solution is to just stop bloody spending, a couple of days in power and they are already pissing our money away.
Yes the tax cuts are good, raising the threshold to £10,000 is great, but every such plan must be coupled with a balancing cut announced at the same time to make it at least revenue neutral or preferably debt reducing.
Remind me who is charge...
“The parties agree to implement a full programme of measures to fulfil our ambitions for a low carbon and eco-friendly economy, including retention of energy performance certificates while scrapping HIPs.”
However, it is an interesting sign of the times that even the British Government, stretching its muscles and enjoying its new powers to the full, cannot get rid of this trivial irritant completely.
The coalition say they are keeping energy performance certificates “to fulfil our ambitions for a low carbon and eco-friendly economy” but experts point out this part of HIPs is compulsory under European Union law. So much for voting for change.
And gi' us a dram o' whisky for the teardrops in my eyes
DAVID Cameron will today be hit with a £700 million cash demand from Alex Salmond, when he comes to Scotland for the first time as Prime Minister.
..£350m of accelerated capital spending – money brought forward from future budgets to stimulate the economy.
He will also ask for £165m he claims Scotland is due as a result of London hosting the 2012 Olympics....
In addition, the First Minister will renew his calls for the Scottish Parliament to be given borrowing powers....
'Aggressive' beggar hit with banning order - Manchester Evening News
He was part of a group who slept rough, openly took drugs and sat on benches drinking alcohol....
He is prohibited from acting in an anti-social way and entering the gardens of properties without the owner's permission.
Dr Mervyn Harris, chair of bench, said: “Your behaviour has caused alarm and distress to very many people in England – people who are trying to earn an honest living, which seems to be a struggle for you.
“The people of England will no longer be plagued and blighted by your behaviour.”
May 13, 2010
Too hot for the cold blooded
Are Lizards Toast?
Raymond B. Huey, Jonathan B. Losos, Craig Moritz
Lizards should be relatively invulnerable to warming: They are very good at evading thermal stress, tolerate high body temperatures, and resist water loss. Nevertheless, Sinervo et al. document extinctions of lizard populations on five continents and argue that global warming is responsible. They use a simple biological model, validated against observed extinctions, to predict that warming will drive almost 40% of all global lizard populations extinct by 2080.
Erosion of Lizard Diversity by Climate Change and Altered Thermal Niches -- Sinervo et al. 328 (5980): 894 -- Science
..compares recent and historical surveys for 48 Mexican lizard species at 200 sites. Since 1975, 12% of local populations have gone extinct. We verified physiological models of extinction risk with observed local extinctions and extended projections worldwide. Since 1975, we estimate that 4% of local populations have gone extinct worldwide, but by 2080 local extinctions are projected to reach 39% worldwide, and species extinctions may reach 20%. Global extinction projections were validated with local extinctions observed from 1975 to 2009 for regional biotas on four other continents, suggesting that lizards have already crossed a threshold for extinctions caused by climate change.
Evolutionary biologist Professor Barry Sinervo said: "Our research shows the ongoing extinctions of lizards are directly due to climate warming from 1975 to the present. Most of these species currently registering local extinctions will be completely extinct by 2080, unless we change and limit the carbon dioxide production that is driving global warming,"
Note how a suggestion here and a model there suddenly become a certainty that CO2 is killing the lizards off.
I haven't seen the evidence behind the paywall but would be intrigued to see the warming and extinction correlation graph.
200 Years of Hunting at the Castle
One picture is dated 1st May 1810, the next 9th March 1927 and the final one 20th January 2009.
(The hunt didn't meet here in 2010 because of the snow)
No to 55%
Tom Harris acknowledges that Labour lost the election and accept that the new government has the democratic legitimacy to govern. There are many policies which will be introduced in the next few years. But it is utterly unacceptable to redraw the rules of parliament and of democracy – not to mention the rules of arithmetic – simply to ensure that ministers hold onto their portfolios for as long as possible.
The plan is to scrap the centuries-old convention that when any government loses the confidence of the Commons, it must resign and parliament must be dissolved. Instead, 55 per cent of the Commons must support a no-confidence motion. ..
But why 55 per cent, you may well ask? Why not 51, or 54 or 58 or 65…?
Could it be that this magic number is based on the fact that the Tories already have 47 per cent of the seats in the Commons? Surely the LibDems would never be stupid enough to fall for such a cynical confidence trick?
Can someone answer me this (and it’s a genuine question): which LibDem or Tory politician – or indeed, politician of any other party – has ever publicly supported such a radical and anti-democratic perversion of our constitution in the past? Did it feature in either party’s manifesto at the election? Or any previous manifestos?
Quite, it is a cynical anti democratic stitch up. A majority is a majority.
PIIGS May Fly
SPAIN will cut civil servants' salaries this year as part of a deficit-reduction plan to ease worries the country will slide into a debt crisis like that of Greece, the prime minister announced yesterday.
Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero told parliament the average 5 per cent reduction starting in June is part of a cost-cutting plan that also includes a suspension in automatic inflation-adjustments for retirement pensions, a drop in overseas aid, a 6 billion (£5.1bn) reduction in government investment in 2010-11 and elimination next year of a 2,500 (£2,130) tax break for couples...With these measures, Spain joins other debt-ridden European countries, like Portugal and Ireland, in implementing painful belt-tightening to chip away at deficits that ballooned with the onset of the recession.
Mr Zapatero fleshed out the details of the plan announced on Sunday for deeper spending cuts to reduce Spain's deficit from 11.2 per cent of GDP last year to 9.3 per cent in 2010, and eventually to 3 percent in 2013. For this year and next, the plan calls for spending cuts totalling 15 billion. The deeper cuts are designed to take an additional 1.5 points off the deficit by the end of 2011.
Mr Zapatero said his own salary and those of other senior members of the government would be cut by 15 per cent.
We shouldn't be talking about the PIIGS (Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain) as the countries in trouble and in need of such measures but of the BIG PIGS - where a GB is added..
George - take the memo from Spain, your new bestest mate El Clegg can translate for you.
Wrong Nobel Prize?
Has the Nobel prize for science ever been awarded for something that turned out to be just plain wrong?
Send answers to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include name, address and phone number.
Al Gore won the Peace Prize, not a science prize, though he should have got that for inventing the Internet.
The Nick & Dave Civil Partnership Pre-nup
That The Coalition Agreement in Full. I was going to fisk it but I'm just too weary to go through a six form mish-mash of good intentions.
May 12, 2010
The Coalition Agreement in Full for The Record
Conservative Liberal Democrat coalition negotiations
11 May 2010
This document sets out agreements reached between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats on a range of issues. These are the issues that needed to be resolved between us in order for us to work together as a strong and stable government. It will be followed in due course by a final Coalition Agreement, covering the full range of policy and including foreign, defence and domestic policy issues not covered in this document.
1. Deficit Reduction
The parties agree that deficit reduction and continuing to ensure economic recovery is the most urgent issue facing Britain. We have therefore agreed that there will need to be:
- a significantly accelerated reduction in the structural deficit over the course of a Parliament, with the main burden of deficit reduction borne by reduced spending rather than increased taxes;
- arrangements that will protect those on low incomes from the effect of public sector pay constraint and other spending constraints; and
- protection of jobs by stopping Labour’s proposed jobs tax.
The parties agree that a plan for deficit reduction should be set out in an emergency budget within 50 days of the signing of any agreement; the parties note that the credibility of a plan on deficit reduction depends on its long-term deliverability, not just the depth of immediate cuts. New forecasts of growth and borrowing should be made by an independent Office for Budget Responsibility for this emergency budget.
The parties agree that modest cuts of £6 billion to non-front line services can be made within the financial year 2010-11, subject to advice from the Treasury and the Bank of England on their feasibility and advisability. Some proportion of these savings can be used to support jobs, for example through the cancelling of some backdated demands for business rates. Other policies upon which we are agreed will further support job creation and green investment, such as work programmes for the unemployed and a green deal for energy efficiency investment.
The parties agree that reductions can be made to the Child Trust Fund and tax credits for higher earners.
2. Spending Review – NHS, Schools and a Fairer Society
The parties agree that a full Spending Review should be held, reporting this Autumn, following a fully consultative process involving all tiers of government and the private sector.
The parties agree that funding for the NHS should increase in real terms in each year of the Parliament, while recognising the impact this decision would have on other departments. The target of spending 0.7% of GNI on overseas aid will also remain in place.
We will fund a significant premium for disadvantaged pupils from outside the schools budget by reductions in spending elsewhere.
The parties commit to holding a full Strategic Security and Defence Review alongside the Spending Review with strong involvement of the Treasury.
The Government will be committed to the maintenance of Britain’s nuclear deterrent, and have agreed that the renewal of Trident should be scrutinised to ensure value for money. Liberal Democrats will continue to make the case for alternatives. We will immediately play a strong role in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, and press for continued progress on multilateral disarmament.
The parties commit to establishing an independent commission to review the long term affordability of public sector pensions, while protecting accrued rights.
We will restore the earnings link for the basic state pension from April 2011 with a “triple guarantee” that pensions are raised by the higher of earnings, prices or 2.5%, as proposed by the Liberal Democrats.
3. Tax Measures
The parties agree that the personal allowance for income tax should be increased in order to help lower and middle income earners. We agree to announce in the first Budget a substantial increase in the personal allowance from April 2011, with the benefits focused on those with lower and middle incomes. This will be funded with the money that would have been used to pay for the increase in Employee National Insurance thresholds proposed by the Conservatives, as well as revenues from increases in Capital Gains Tax rates for non-business assets as described below. The increase in Employer National Insurance thresholds proposed by the Conservatives will go ahead in order to stop Labour’s jobs tax. We also agree to a longer term policy objective of further increasing the personal allowance to £10,000, making further real terms steps each year towards this objective.
We agree that this should take priority over other tax cuts, including cuts to Inheritance Tax. We also agree that provision will be made for Liberal Democrat MPs to abstain on budget resolutions to introduce transferable tax allowances for married couples without prejudice to this coalition agreement.
The parties agree that a switch should be made to a per-plane, rather than per-passenger duty; a proportion of any increased revenues over time will be used to help fund increases in the personal allowance.
We further agree to seek a detailed agreement on taxing non-business capital gains at rates similar or close to those applied to income, with generous exemptions for entrepreneurial business activities.
The parties agree that tackling tax avoidance is essential for the new government, and that all efforts will be made to do so, including detailed development of Liberal Democrat proposals.
4. Banking Reform
The parties agree that reform to the banking system is essential to avoid a repeat of Labour’s financial crisis, to promote a competitive economy, to sustain the recovery and to protect and sustain jobs.
We agree that a banking levy will be introduced. We will seek a detailed agreement on implementation.
We agree to bring forward detailed proposals for robust action to tackle unacceptable bonuses in the financial services sector; in developing these proposals, we will ensure they are effective in reducing risk.
We agree to bring forward detailed proposals to foster diversity, promote mutuals and create a more competitive banking industry.
We agree that ensuring the flow of credit to viable SMEs is essential for supporting growth and should be a core priority for a new government, and we will work together to develop effective proposals to do so. This will include consideration of both a major loan guarantee scheme and the use of net lending targets for the nationalised banks.
The parties wish to reduce systemic risk in the banking system and will establish an independent commission to investigate the complex issue of separating retail and investment banking in a sustainable way; while recognising that this would take time to get right, the commission will be given an initial time frame of one year to report.
The parties agree that the regulatory system needs reform to avoid a repeat of Labour’s financial crisis. We agree to bring forward proposals to give the Bank of England control of macro-prudential regulation and oversight of micro-prudential regulation.
The parties also agree to rule out joining the European Single Currency during the duration of this agreement.
We have agreed that there should be an annual limit on the number of non-EU economic migrants admitted into the UK to live and work. We will consider jointly the mechanism for implementing the limit. We will end the detention of children for immigration purposes.
6. Political Reform
The parties agree to the establishment of five year fixed-term parliaments. A Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government will put a binding motion before the House of Commons in the first days following this agreement stating that the next general election will be held on the first Thursday of May 2015. Following this motion, legislation will be brought forward to make provision for fixed term parliaments of five years. This legislation will also provide for dissolution if 55% or more of the House votes in favour.
The parties will bring forward a Referendum Bill on electoral reform, which includes provision for the introduction of the Alternative Vote in the event of a positive result in the referendum, as well as for the creation of fewer and more equal sized constituencies. Both parties will whip their Parliamentary Parties in both Houses to support a simple majority referendum on the Alternative Vote, without prejudice to the positions parties will take during such a referendum.
The parties will bring forward early legislation to introduce a power of recall, allowing voters to force a by-election where an MP was found to have engaged in serious wrongdoing and having had a petition calling for a by-election signed by 10% of his or her constituents.
We agree to establish a committee to bring forward proposals for a wholly or mainly elected upper chamber on the basis of proportional representation. The committee will come forward with a draft motions by December 2010. It is likely that this bill will advocate single long terms of office. It is also likely there will be a grandfathering system for current Peers. In the interim, Lords appointments will be made with the objective of creating a second chamber reflective of the share of the vote secured by the political parties in the last general election.
The parties will bring forward the proposals of the Wright Committee for reform to the House of Commons in full – starting with the proposed committee for management of programmed business and including government business within its scope by the third year of the Parliament.
The parties agree to reduce electoral fraud by speeding up the implementation of individual voter registration.
We have agreed to establish a commission to consider the ‘West Lothian question’.
The parties agree to the implementation of the Calman Commission proposals and the offer of a referendum on further Welsh devolution.
The parties will tackle lobbying through introducing a statutory register of lobbyists. We also agree to pursue a detailed agreement on limiting donations and reforming party funding in order to remove big money from politics.
The parties will promote the radical devolution of power and greater financial autonomy to local government and community groups. This will include a full review of local government finance.
7. Pensions and Welfare
The parties agree to phase out the default retirement age and hold a review to set the date at which the state pension age starts to rise to 66, although it will not be sooner than 2016 for men and 2020 for women. We agree to end the rules requiring compulsory annuitisation at 75.
We agree to implement the Parliamentary and Health Ombudsman’s recommendation to make fair and transparent payments to Equitable Life policy holders, through an independent payment scheme, for their relative loss as a consequence of regulatory failure.
The parties agree to end all existing welfare to work programmes and to create a single welfare to work programme to help all unemployed people get back into work.
We agree that Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants facing the most significant barriers to work should be referred to the aforementioned newly created welfare to work programme immediately, not after 12 months as is currently the case. We agree that Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants aged under 25 should be referred to the programme after a maximum of six months.
The parties agree to realign contracts with welfare to work service providers to reflect more closely the results they achieve in getting people back into work.
We agree that the funding mechanism used by government to finance welfare to work programmes should be reformed to reflect the fact that initial investment delivers later savings in lower benefit expenditure.
We agree that receipt of benefits for those able to work should be conditional on the willingness to work.
We agree to promote the reform of schools in order to ensure:
- that new providers can enter the state school system in response to parental demand;
- that all schools have greater freedom over curriculum; and,
- that all schools are held properly accountable.
We await Lord Browne’s final report into higher education funding, and will judge its proposals against the need to:
- increase social mobility;
- take into account the impact on student debt;
- ensure a properly funded university sector;
- improve the quality of teaching;
- advance scholarship; and,
- attract a higher proportion of students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
If the response of the Government to Lord Browne’s report is one that Liberal Democrats cannot accept, then arrangements will be made to enable Liberal Democrat MPs to abstain in any vote.
9. Relations with the EU
We agree that the British Government will be a positive participant in the European Union, playing a strong and positive role with our partners, with the goal of ensuring that all the nations of Europe are equipped to face the challenges of the 21st century: global competitiveness, global warming and global poverty.
We agree that there should be no further transfer of sovereignty or powers over the course of the next Parliament. We will examine the balance of the EU’s existing competences and will, in particular, work to limit the application of the Working Time Directive in the United Kingdom.
We agree that we will amend the 1972 European Communities Act so that any proposed future Treaty that transferred areas of power, or competences, would be subject to a referendum on that Treaty – a ‘referendum lock’. We will amend the 1972 European Communities Act so that the use of any passerelle would require primary legislation.
We will examine the case for a United Kingdom Sovereignty Bill to make it clear that ultimate authority remains with Parliament.
We agree that Britain will not join or prepare to join the Euro in this Parliament.
We agree that we will strongly defend the UK’s national interests in the forthcoming EU budget negotiations and that the EU budget should only focus on those areas where the EU can add value.
We agree that we will press for the European Parliament only to have one seat, in Brussels.
We agree that we will approach forthcoming legislation in the area of criminal justice on a case by case basis, with a view to maximising our country’s security, protecting Britain’s civil liberties and preserving the integrity of our criminal justice system. Britain will not participate in the establishment of any European Public Prosecutor.
10. Civil liberties
The parties agree to implement a full programme of measures to reverse the substantial erosion of civil liberties under the Labour Government and roll back state intrusion.
This will include:
- A Freedom or Great Repeal Bill.
- The scrapping of ID card scheme, the National Identity register, the next generation of biometric passports and the Contact Point Database.
- Outlawing the finger-printing of children at school without parental permission.
- The extension of the scope of the Freedom of Information Act to provide greater transparency.
- Adopting the protections of the Scottish model for the DNA database.
- The protection of historic freedoms through the defence of trial by jury.
- The restoration of rights to non-violent protest.
- The review of libel laws to protect freedom of speech.
- Safeguards against the misuse of anti-terrorism legislation.
- Further regulation of CCTV.
- Ending of storage of internet and email records without good reason.
- A new mechanism to prevent the proliferation of unnecessary new criminal offences.
The parties agree to implement a full programme of measures to fulfil our joint ambitions for a low carbon and eco-friendly economy, including:
- The establishment of a smart grid and the roll-out of smart meters.
- The full establishment of feed-in tariff systems in electricity – as well as the maintenance of banded ROCs.
- Measures to promote a huge increase in energy from waste through anaerobic digestion.
- The creation of a green investment bank.
- The provision of home energy improvement paid for by the savings from lower energy bills.
- Retention of energy performance certificates while scrapping HIPs.
- Measures to encourage marine energy.
- The establishment of an emissions performance standard that will prevent coal-fired power stations being built unless they are equipped with sufficient CCS to meet the emissions performance standard.
- The establishment of a high-speed rail network.
- The cancellation of the third runway at Heathrow.
- The refusal of additional runways at Gatwick and Stansted.
- The replacement of the Air Passenger Duty with a per flight duty.
- The provision of a floor price for carbon, as well as efforts to persuade the EU to move towards full auctioning of ETS permits.
- Measures to make the import or possession of illegal timber a criminal offence.
- Measures to promote green spaces and wildlife corridors in order to halt the loss of habitats and restore biodiversity.
- Mandating a national recharging network for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.
- Continuation of the present Government’s proposals for public sector investment in CCS technology for four coal-fired power stations; and a specific commitment to reduce central government carbon emissions by 10 per cent within 12 months.
- We are agreed that we would seek to increase the target for energy from renewable sources, subject to the advice of the Climate Change Committee.
Liberal Democrats have long opposed any new nuclear construction. Conservatives, by contrast, are committed to allowing the replacement of existing nuclear power stations provided they are subject to the normal planning process for major projects (under a new national planning statement) and provided also that they receive no public subsidy.
We have agreed a process that will allow Liberal Democrats to maintain their opposition to nuclear power while permitting the government to bring forward the national planning statement for ratification by Parliament so that new nuclear construction becomes possible.
This process will involve:
- the government completing the drafting of a national planning statement and putting it before Parliament;
- specific agreement that a Liberal Democrat spokesman will speak against the planning statement, but that Liberal Democrat MPs will abstain; and
- clarity that this will not be regarded as an issue of confidence.
And so another day dawns.
So it all worked out with Brown leaving with some dignity and even some grace, the New Prime Minister was driven through the normal traffic to take up residence. No Zil lanes, no pomp, just a very British muddle through strictly observing our unwritten constitution. A constitution and system that isn't broken but needs some gentle reforming.
FPTP or AV, I don't really care, they keep the strong constituency link. PR is just a recipe for a party hack parliament. The one thing that is clear from this election is that individual candidates were held to account by their constituents separately from their parties. We need that to continue.
Europe, that is going to be a battle for another day. The eurosceptics failed to make this an issue this election, though some may argue that it was the underlying reason why Cameron failed. UKIP cost him seats and his U-Turn on Lisbon cost him activists.
England. England wanted a different result to the other parts. We just ended up where England wasn't held to ransom by the vote buying "Progressive Alliance", but it was close. It mustn't happen again. A change is needed and the Tories know the change is needed for their continued existence as they have unwillingly become an English Party.
And for the first time I'm older than the Prime Minister which officially makes me a grumpy old man.
Tree Ring Data has observer bias, isn't a thermometer and is mine, all mine.
In April, the UK Information Commissioner's Office ruled that Queen's University Belfast must hand over data obtained during 40 years of research into 7,000 years of Irish tree rings to a City banker and part-time climate analyst, Doug Keenan. Professor Mike Baillie, the man who collected most of that data, called the ruling a "staggering injustice". He explains his opinion:
I know the Irish data better than anyone else; particularly the highly disparate nature of the samples before the year AD1700 (variously from historic buildings, archaeological sites, lake margins and peat bogs). It is unlikely that these ancient woodland, forest or bog trees would have the same response to climate factors (such as temperature or rainfall) as current living oak trees. Worse still, living parkland oaks in Ireland are much wider ringed than any of the ancient oak populations. This is almost certainly because modern oaks on walled estates are probably imported stock, brought in from the 17th century onwards by landowners who wished to beautify their estates with large oaks. Even worse than that, although ancient bog oaks occur across Northern Europe, there are no good examples of oaks currently growing on raised lowland bogs anywhere. So it is essentially impossible to find out exactly what such oaks were responding to.
And what has that to do with the release? The fact you consider they can't be related to temperature is important, others have used them, so it throws light on their work. But it isn't your analysis that was being blocked but the raw data, for others to research as they wish. Maybe they will see something different in them. But he continues...
...regarding intellectual property and the release of data under FOI, when a dendrochronologist measures the widths of the growth rings in a sample, he or she has to make multiple decisions with respect to the starts and ends of the rings, problem rings, and so on. Repeated measurement of the same sample, will not give exactly the same measurements. The number of rings must be the same, but the actual measured widths will not be. This means that the ring pattern of a tree-ring sample carries the "intellectual fingerprint" of the dendrochronologist who measured it, every bit as much as this text carries my intellectual fingerprint. In my opinion, tree-ring patterns are therefore intellectual property and should not be handed out as if they are instrumental climate data.
Oh, so the data isn't data. Tree ring patterns are subjective, depending on the observer, now that is another important revelation but a pretty poor argument. Reading a thermometer can also be subjective and observer bias can be calibrated, but it is still irrelevant.
The first months and years of a David Cameron premiership are set to be very different to those previously envisaged by the Conservatives.
But not very different from the hopes and dreams of a lot of the new intake of Tory MPs if not of the Tory party members.
May 11, 2010
The Spirit Level Delusion
There is a sad little book doing the rounds at the moment: The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better arguing for "more progressive income and property taxes and more generous benefits, we also need policies to reduce differences in incomes before taxes and benefits. That means higher minimum wages, more generous pensions, running the national economy with low levels of unemployment, better education and retraining policies, increasing the bargaining power of trade unions."
"Preventing excessively high incomes and concentrations of wealth at the top is as important as pulling up the incomes at the bottom, and the first clearly provides the means for the second."
If we did this in the UK:
- Murder rates would halve
- Mental illness would reduce by two thirds
- Obesity would halve
- Imprisonment would reduce by 80%
- Teen births would reduce by 80%
- Levels of trust would increase by 85%
Unsurprisingly among the candidates at the election Claire Perry - Devizes Con - signed the Equality Pledge to work towards this nirvana.
The Lab-Lib-Celt Alliance loves it because it is "Scientifically Proven" by "Real Scientists". Who would be so cruel as to disagree?
Christopher Snowden that is who. He has been Fact-checking the Left's New Theory of Everything
And he has written a book "The Spirit Level Delusion" which will be published on 17th May 2010.
The book launch will be held at the Institute of Economic Affairs on 11th May at 6.30pm. To attend please RSVP here.
I have read the book, not only is it comprehensive in its demolition, it is well written, amusingly thorough and easy to digest. Even El Clegg would be able to understand it. I will send a copy to my new "Conservative" MP, though whether Ms Perry will be able to grasp its evidence is an open question
We are going to hear a lot more about how limiting growth and reducing inequality will make everyone happier and how we must legislate to make this happen. You need the evidence to show it is guff, you need this book.
Audacious? It was an obvious move that had been signalled since before the election. Why are the professional commentators so surprised, column inches and hours of air time to fill I suppose. It is not audacious it just another grubby squirming in the gutter as the wounded worm seeks a way out. It may well work but the smell will remain.
Climate Politicoboffins On How To Save The World
A small group of independent scholars and analysts has published The Hartwell Paper, an attempt to offer a radically different way of framing the issues raised by climate change, and hence a different set of approaches for tackling them.
The paper is named after Hartwell House, the Buckinghamshire mansion, hotel and spa where the group of 14 academics from Europe, North America and Japan gathered in February to develop their ideas.
Its central message is that climate change can be ameliorated best by pursuing "politically attractive and relentlessly pragmatic" options that also curb emissions.
These options include bringing a reliable electricity supply to the estimated 1.5 billion people in the world without it using efficient, low-carbon technologies.
"The raising up of human dignity is the central driver of the Hartwell Paper, replacing the preoccupation with human sinfulness that has failed and will continue to fail to deliver progress," said lead author Prof Gwyn Prins.
The Climate Scientists are fighting like ferrets in a bag over who has the right answer - pity they don't fight so vigorously over ensuring we have the right questions.
May 10, 2010
The Election The Internet Won
The hidden story of this election was the mass glee with which the public turned upon miscreants and, by extension, rewarded the decent. It doesn’t usually happen like this; the miscreants usually sneak back under the wire, under the chloroforming cover of the party ticket. But this time people, you know, took a real interest.
Pace Iain but this muddled result is exactly what you can expect if the blogosphere has a significant impact. Voters in constituencies have reacted to the information the internet has ensured has been broadcast. Individual politicians have been judged on their individual talents. Which is exactly the advantage of the first past the post system we have always been told. Of course at the first hint that the party donkey wearing a rosette may no longer be safe the parties suddenly realise they want to change the system.
The manifestos have been largely rendered irrelevant as a quick click on Google provides a broader view of any claim. And sorry Iain, being a pretty boy on television doesn't translate into votes anymore as Николай Clegg found out.
The turnout was high, people were interested and wanted to express a view. It is just that the view is no longer one the parties want to hear. Yes it is inconclusive, yes it is a muddle but that is how life is. A life that has found it's voice on t'internet rahter than in the parties.
And the grubby little deals being done will only further divorce the parties from the people.
The Hush Puppies Go In
Angry Conservatives are telling the party's leadership that David Cameron must break up his "chums circle" running the party and bring on board veterans who were largely excluded from the election campaign.
One senior Tory said: "If we had not had the television debates we would now be in government with an overall majority. Debates, plus big society and gimmicky nonsense equals a hung parliament. No debates, plus core message and proper politics would have equalled victory."
Sir Bufton is alive and well - other conservatives say that the old guard of Heathites were well consigned to the dustbin of history the problem was that the slick new boys weren't radical enough. Too concerned to hold the middle ground and not offend anyone.
Euronating it up the wall
Alistair Darling rules out British support for euro | Politics | guardian.co.uk
Alistair Darling has made it clear that he would not support any European efforts to prop up the ailing euro that might expose Britain to liabilities, ahead of this afternoon's emergency talks in Brussels.
Darling’s last act: leaving a £15bn bill for British taxpayers
David Cameron is facing an immediate clash with Europe after Alistair Darling prepared last night to sign up to a massive new fund to back the euro that could cost British taxpayers £15 billion.
Darling agrees to give £10bn to Europe bail-out
Alistair Darling has caved into a demand that British taxpayers underwrite at least £10bn of debt held by other European governments, amid fears that the Greek debt crisis could spread.
Confused? I am. But I think it would be fair to compare this with the £6 Billion that Gordon claimed the Tories were going to "take out of the economy"..
The only silver lining is that it makes Señor Clegg's rampant europhilia harder to negotiate in.
May 9, 2010
Will Clegg make Europe an Issue?
Tory-Lib Dem coalition threatened by secret hardline memo on Europe | Politics | The Observer
David Cameron's hopes of forming a coalition with the Liberal Democrats were dramatically undermined last night by the leaking of a top-secret letter outlining the hardline Eurosceptic stance he and William Hague planned to adopt in government.
"Hard-line Eurosceptic" obviously has a different meaning to The Guardian than to some other people.
If the anti-British Lib-Dems take fright at it then fine, let's make Europe THE issue for the next election which would be very soon.
May 7, 2010
Gordon Must Stay
Gordon staying on, ignoring his moral compass; Ed Balls emerging from the wings; Milibands jostling, another election. It could ruin the Labour Party for a generation.
Which is why, maybe, he is smart enough to be trying to graceful step aside and let someone else clear up his mess.
Kids Will Pay The Price of a Lib-Con Pact
Never mind the windmills that will carpet our green and pleasant the real price of the Tory failure to secure a majority will be paid by the kids. The corduroy wearing Lib-Dims will scupper any meaningful reform of the education system to protect the teachers.
Not such a small price to pay.
The Suppurating Bishop
The free cheese board at the pub tonight included some Stinking Bishop left over from St George's Day, spread on a Dorset Knob it was heavenly ecclesiastical bukkake pleasure, and the beer was good as well.
Outlawing Non-Free-Range Eggs would Kill Babies
• A significant market for eggs is the pharmaceutical sector. Novartis alone takes about 200 million eggs a year into its Liverpool site for the cultivation of vaccines. These have to be barn-reared, fertile eggs and are inoculated, then incubated for 12 days before the vaccine is drawn off for human use.
Not a lot of people know that...
Friday Night is Music Night (Walking the Dog Edition)
One of many covers
None of the Above the Winner
Cameron - Loser, didn't clearly win.
Brown - Loser, he is toast but the party survives.
Clegg - Loser, but could be the king-maker giving him unwarranted power.
Salmon - Loser, Labour increase in Scotland.
England - Loser, bribes to the other nations of English taxpayers' money will decide who is PM.
The Economy - Loser, pork barrels will be rolling, no cuts, the debt will spiral up, the markets will sell.
Party Politics - Loser, it isn't PR that is being demanded, that is just another bribe the yellow losers will demand, it isn't electoral reform to entrench the current parties we need, though that is what we will get. All the parties are losers, we don't want them.
Democracy - Winner, people want to vote and won't be taken for fools. And as the grubby deals are done today, they will know them for what they are. And we won't forget.
May 6, 2010
Climate Politicians Criticise Politicisation of Climate
In a letter published in the journal Science, more than 250 members of the US National Academy of Sciences, including 11 Nobel Prize laureates, condemned the increase in "political assaults" on scientists who argue greenhouse gas emissions are warming the planet.
"Society has two choices: we can ignore the science and hide our heads in the sand and hope we are lucky, or we can act in the public interest to reduce the threat of global climate change quickly and substantively. The good news is that smart and effective actions are possible. But delay must not be an option."
Hang on, they are pushing a political view promoting a certain course of action and are complaining they are under political criticism. Hardly seems unfair to me.
Stick to the science and, fair enough, tell people to keep it to the science, but once you enter the bearpit of politics then don't expect any quarter.
Election Result: Grayson Perry - Devizes - Conservative Hold
Grayson Perry is an English artist, known mainly for his ceramic vases and cross-dressing. He works in several media. Perry's vases have classical forms and are decorated in bright colours, depicting subjects at odds with their attractive appearance, e.g., child abuse and sado-masochism. There is a strong autobiographical element in his work, in which images of Perry as "Claire", his female alter-ego, often appear. He was awarded the Turner Prize in 2003 for his ceramics, receiving the prize dressed as Claire.
No, I can't bring myself to vote for Grayson this morning, nor Labour, nor the funny woman from the Lib Dems.
We have an energetic Independent candidate, but could you vote for some one who has wasted so much money when he has no chance of winning?
We are blessed with a Librarian Party candidate here, who is saying all the right things, but what ever I do we already know the result.
I really am still in the camp of the undecided, even so I will vote.
May 5, 2010
It Is Time To Pick The Losers
We don't want any one to win this election but we want some of them to lose more than the others.
Brown must lose, he must be trounced for his incompetence, his intrusive big statism and his ruining the country.
Clegg must lose because he is anti-British, he is an annoying irrelevance and any belief that he represents a serious party ridiculed.
BNP - nasty socialists.
UKIP - faded from view, failed to make europe an issue.
Smaller parties - wastes of ballot paper.
Cameron - He is still wrong on Europe and green policies, still waffling on the need for cuts and downsizing. He has already lost, if a Tory can't build and maintain a consistent lead over this Labour government then there is something very wrong. But we need him in No.10 as there is no other option, but only just. He needs to know every day that we didn't want him to win, just not lose as badly as the others.
So vote tactically to deliver that message.
Giving Organic Farming The Bird
Birds such as the skylark and lapwing are less likely to be found in organic fields than on conventional farms, according to a study that contradicts claims that organic agriculture is much better for wildlife.
It concludes that organic farms produce less than half as much food per hectare as ordinary farms and that the small benefits for certain species from avoiding pesticides and artificial fertilisers are far outweighed by the need to make land more productive to feed a growing population.
The research, by the University of Leeds, is another blow to the organic industry, which is already struggling because of falling sales and a report from the Food Standards Agency that found that organic food was no healthier than ordinary produce.
Organic farmers who shun herbicides may also impose higher costs on nearby farms because the weeds that they have tolerated spread to neighbouring fields....
Addict Admits He Doesn't Want To Give Up....
I’ll carry on spending, belligerent Gordon Brown tells The Times - Times Online
The country is burdened by unprecedented debt and the costs of an expanding State and yet, after increasing public spending by 54 per cent over the past 13 years, Mr Brown’s pledge to the people is yet more spending on benefits, allowances and tax credits. In short, Mr Brown’s addiction to public spending is unaffordable.
Just one more drink, I can give up any time I want to, I won't drink tomorrow, but just one more drink tonight is what we need.
Shrinking Antarctic Ice - It is in Ohio!
Ellen Mosley-Thompson and her husband, Lonnie Thompson, are two of the world's most respected climatologists and glaciologists, traveling around the globe to bore holes in shrinking glaciers and ice sheets. Mosley-Thompson works mainly at the poles, in Greenland and Antarctica, while her husband has done more ice corings of low-latitude glaciers — in the Andes, Africa, and the Himalayas — than any other person alive. Their work, taken together, paints a sobering portrait of the rapid retreat of most of the world's glaciers and ice caps in the face of the buildup of planet-warming greenhouse gases.
Several months ago, during the Antarctic summer, Mosley-Thompson — the director of the Byrd Polar Research Center at Ohio State University — returned to Antarctica for the ninth time to head a six-person expedition to the Bruce Plateau on the Antarctic Peninsula. The peninsula has warmed faster than almost any other place on Earth, with winter temperatures increasing by 11 degrees F over the past 60 years and year-round temperatures rising by 5 degrees F.
There then follows a lot of result mongering even though the analysis hasn't been done yet, the ice cores are in transit.
The impression is given that the Antarctic Peninsular is representitive of the whole Antarctic. The interesting question is why is this spot warming so fast compared to everywhere else. That isn't a global question. From the article the only special factor that disappearing ice has is that the Thompsons keep drilling holes in it and carting it back to Ohio....
May 4, 2010
Feeding Plod's Cash machine
A bit of a slur on Car Salesmen, they have to use wit, charm and guile to extract the money, not the threat of force.
The vision of tranquil modern cities, with inhabitants gliding by silently in electric cars, may be shattered by European plans to introduce artificial warning sounds to the new generation of zero-emission vehicles.
Each manufacturer may be permitted to provide its own “signature tune”, with the regulation simply setting a minimum volume to prevent pedestrians, cyclists and especially blind people from stepping into the path of battery-powered cars.
Some manufacturers are likely to opt for an engine noise while others are considering adopting the noises of spacecraft from science fiction films, such as the podracers from Star Wars.
The first bubble car which plays The Ride of the Valkyries gets my order...
Brown tries to Command the Waves
Mr Brown was speaking at the launch of Labour’s “seaside manifesto” on Great Yarmouth’s freezing, windswept promenade at the fag end of a wet May Bank Holiday. “With the right support of an active government, places like Ipswich and Great Yarmouth can be a new riviera on the North Sea,” he declared, without a trace of irony.
I love the wild cold East Anglian coast but it will never be "riviera", which is the basis of its charm. He has lost it, the final proof in his insane belief in the power of government.
May 2, 2010
Don't Vote Lib Dem in Salisbury or The Vly Gets It
Liberal Democrat Nick Radford says "It's a silly tradition, symbolic of many things that are wrong with politics. It's not what people want to hear and I'm against it on principle."
Farmers Boys has the music, the words are below.
Liberal Democrat Nick Radford might be a slimy little creep who cares nothing for the traditions of Wiltshire nor the nod to the honourable history of the fighting Farmer's Boys but I hope the voters of Salisbury bear that in mind as they vote
T'were on a jolly summer's day,
the twenty fust of May,
John Scruggins took his turmut hoe,
with this he trudged away,
Now some volkes they loike haymakin',
and some they vancies mowin'
But of all the jobs as Oi loike best,
gie Oi the turmut 'oein.
The Vly, the Vly-
The Vly be on the turmut,
Tis all me eye,
For Oi to try,
To keep Vlys off them turmuts.
The fust place as Oi went to wurk;
it were wi' Varmer Gower,
Who vowed and swore as how Oi wer
'-a virst class turmut oer;'
The second place Oi went to wurk,
they paid Oi by the job,
If Oi'd a knowed a liitle more,
Oi'd sooner bin in quod.
The Vly, the Vly-
The Vly be on the turmut,
Tis all me eye,
For Oi to try,
To keep Vlys off them turmuts.
The last place as I went to wurk,
they zent ver Oi a mowin'
Oi sent word back,
Oi'd sooner get the zack,
than gie up turmut 'oein',
Now all you jolly varmer chaps,
what bides at 'ome zo warm',
Oi'll now conclude my ditty wie a wishing you no 'arm.
The Hidden Tory Agenda?
The first legislative programme of a Conservative administration would include a Great Repeal Bill to dismantle Labour's "Big Brother" legislation by scrapping ID cards and home information packs, restoring jury trial in complex cases and abolishing powers of bailiffs and council tax inspectors to enter homes.
Mr Cameron told the Sunday Times that his first Queen's Speech - scheduled for May 25 - would also include bills to allow the first new-style "free schools" to open at the start of this autumn's new academic year and to decentralise power and unleash enterprise.
The outline of a Tory agenda for power came as the party edged further ahead in the polls...
Extraordinary that no one believes we know what the real manifestos and yet we are happy to vote on that basis...
A 74-year-old retired teacher, identified only as Axel G., was accused of terrorising a local pool, where cannonballs, or Arschbomben, are forbidden
Arschbomben - sheer poetry - did he hum a little tune as he did the run up, DA DADA DA DA DAH DADA DA DA DADA DAH DAH DADA DA DAHHHHH.....
Welcome to Scotland
Monumental signal that you've arrived in Scotland
THERE will no longer be any doubt that you have entered Scotland. A £2 million landmark to rival the Angel of the North is to be built on the Border with England
A giant outstretched hand is the expected design after several others were rejected...
An Eye for the Future
Schools, sensitive to squeamish pupils and the risks of their misusing scalpels, have abandoned cutting up frogs or animal organs and replaced them with computer simulation or plastic replicas.
In addition to health and safety fears, schools cited changes to the curriculum which place more emphasis on issues such as the environment than on practical skills.
Helen Wright, headmistress of the private St Mary’s Calne, a girls’ school in Wiltshire, said her pupils were taught dissection once they reached the age of 15. Occasionally they worked with pickled rats or fish heads, but more often with pigs’ hearts and kidneys “usually sourced from a very nice butcher in Devizes”.
So learning about the environment trumps actually science, why am I not surprised. But at least the nice young ladies at St Mary's are being taught not to be squeamish about handling flesh, it is an important quality for a successful marriage.