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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Dalgety Bay - FoI Response - Dounraey Radiation Scare Equally Fraudulent - SEPA Know of No Slightest Shred Of Evidence For ANY Low Level Radiation Scare

  SEPA have "answered" my last FoI. As I said in that FoI posted here "I have now been asked to appeal this refusal and once again ask you to provide the specific information requested. Not merely to say it is somewhere on our website, particularly when this is not true."

  A couple of days before the reply was legally due i got a phone call saying that since they were doing their very p best to provide a full and definitive set of answers would it be OK of they were a few days beyond the legal time limit. Being the moderate and placatory person revealed on this site I said yes.

   So the reply is certainly extensive.

   In answer to the first 3 questions (whether paint particles have been found, whether radium has been found, whether claims to have done so have been retracted and whether SEPA are more honest in any of their dealings than to falsely claim to have found them), SEPA sent a detailed 10 page reply. It said absolutely nothing beyond that it is all on our website - something which, incidentally is a lie.

   The next file sent was slightly more responsive.

   In answer to (4) - what scientific breakthrough proved, after they had made their promise to designate the place as radioactive waste that so completely changed all the evidence as to make them stop - the answer was - this is on the website.Iit isn't.

   For (5) -what makes Dounraey different and what other local beach has been used as a control,  sample the answer was
The nature of the radioactive "particles" at Dounraey is different from the nature of radioactive "particles" at Dalgety Beach. Particles at Dounraey are fragments of irradiated nuclear fuel which arose from reprocessing of nuclear fuel rods. Particles at Dalgety Bay result from burning and dumping luminised instruments..."

   Reports on the particles at Dounraey is available on our website
  So, while they don't actually answer the question the clear implication is that no scientific control sample has ever been taken at Dounraey to find out if it is more radioactive than background either and certainly that there is no stronger evidence for any threat at Dounraey than for the fraudulent scare story at Dalgety.

  Since so many billions are being spent by the bureaucracy on Dounraey the fact that they cannot claim to have done even the most basic scientific examination of the alleged danger of these alleged particles is very revealing.

  On (6) what actual scientific evidence do they claim to have that there is any truth in the Linear Non-Threshold assertion that such low level radiation is in any way harmful the answer is
Statutory dose limits and constraints for the radiological protection of the public are derived from international agreements derived from bodies such as the EC, IEA and the ICRP.

  That's it. No actual scientific evidence whatsoever - it is simply an assertion that has been decreed by those in charge. When I, as a private individual, say I have been unable to find any actual evidence against hormesis and for the LNT scare that is one thing. When the radiological department of a government "Environment Protection Agency" whose entire careers absolutely depend on the truth of this scare, under a legal obligation to produce it if it exists, says they know of no slightest scrap of actual evidence whatsoever that Linear Non-Threshold story us in any way truthful you can take that to the bank.

   And that part of their "answer" took a mere 5 pages.

   So now an appeal goes to the Scottish Information Commissioner that, having repeatedly refused to answer FoI's and in response to an appeal they asked me to put in, phrased in the simplest terms, asking for actual information, SEPA have gone to the greatest possible lengths to make no answer beyond "its on the website" (which is untrue) . Granted they accidentally revealed rather than deliberately told, the truth on the last 2 points.

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Friday, May 18, 2012

Dalgety Bay - ThinkScotland Article

  This is a short version of my latest article, this time summarising the position of Dalgety Bay and taking a few sideswipes at the BBC & some at the no threshold radiation scare) on Brian Monteith's ThinkScotland site. Please put any comments on there.

Radiation scare stories? Aberdeen's more dangerous than Dalgety Bay
THE Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) promised to blight the little town of Dalgety Bay by designating part of their beach as "radioactive waste" by the end of March.
I first ran across this scare story in Feb 2009 when the BBC morning programme gave SEPA a slot. (1)
In its influence on British public life the fact that the BBC daily promote new scare stories on the environment, health or how some part of the welfare state is about to collapse is probably the most damaging to the fabric of the nation.
They do censor and propagandise on political party lines. Otherwise the Green party couldn't get 40 times more coverage per vote (virtually all supportive) than UKIP do (unsupportively). They do lie, censor and proagandise to support hatred of whichever country we are preparing to bomb. Otherwise they could not have censored reporting of the dissection, while still alive of 1,800 people by our "police" in Kosovo (formerly the NATO armed KLA) while giving so much coverage to the "indictment" of Gadaffi for things literally not 1% as evil. But I suspect that, over the long term, the "eco" scare stories do more damage to the average citizen.
Have any of these thousands of scare stories subsequently been proven fully true? I am open to an example....

The report on Dalgety Bay was one such. The story on that programme was that certain aircraft were decommissioned there after the war; that they had dials painted with radium paint; and that this radium has contaminated the beach to a dangerous extent.
Listening to SEPA's spokesman speak it became clear that the amount of radiation they had detected was extraordinarily low and that they avoided the fact that low level radiation occurs naturally everywhere. Since it was a phone in I phoned in and suggested that this could indeed be simply the natural radiation. The SEPA spokesman replied that since they had chemically proven that these radioactive particles consisted of paint this had to be the cause and thereby won the debate.
However the claim to have proven that such microscopic particles of radiation consisted of paint seemed to me to be pushing the limits of science. Radioactives in tiny quantities can be detected by the radiation but molecular quantities of paint are a different matter. I wrote to SEPA asking for the published evidence of this.
They replied saying (A) that they had no duty to answer such questions and (B) threatening legal action if I persisted. I persisted, pointing out that, under the Freedom of Information Act they did indeed have such a duty. Across a period of over a year and repetitions of the query I was directed to many documents. Though SEPA never admitted the claim was a lie (and still don't) it became clear that no they had, in fact, never found the radioactive paint particles claimed.
Over the years the experts they hired had reached conclusions. The most spectacular being that "the highest reading recorded at Dalgety Bay was still less than 2/3rds that found in a typical Aberdeen street"....

So there is no actual threat and no evidence of dangerous radioactivity introduced by Man.
There is a vast amount of scaremongering about radiation. We all live with radiation every day. World average human radiation dosage is about 2.4 mSv per year but this varies from place to place. Aberdeen being about 50% above average. By comparison Kerala in India has a background rate of about 175 mSv without any visible harmful effect, indeed quite the opposite....
The science writer Steuart Campbell also wrote a guest blog (4) in which he pointed out that within the top foot of an average square mile of land there is 9 tonnes of naturally occurring uranium and thorium and because of the breakdown of these, 1 gram of radium. He also pointed out that these radium dials existed on all the 100s of thousands of wartime night bombers.
My findings about SEPA's claims were reported by the Dunfermline, Dundee and Aberdeen Press (5) but not by papers from Glasgow or Edinburgh, who presumably consider Dalgety too remote to be worth questioning coverage. Obviously the BBC refused to broadcast anything balancing their earlier reports despite knowing they were, at least in part, false....
According to one report SEPA paid for "the highest reading recorded at Dalgety Bay was still less than 2/3rds that found in a typical Aberdeen street." There should be a thorough, independent and public investigation into the entire expensive organisation....
I also asked them under further FoI's how many aircraft were destroyed, how much paint there was on each of them and what weight of radium that would amount to but it turned out they not only had no slightest idea but they had not even asked the MoD for such specific and very basic information.
Nonetheless, on their behalf I have an estimate, assuming not more than 20 planes were broken up and knowing what proportion of paint is pigment. Since the paint is water soluble is probable that most of it would be long gone after 60 years but the original amount of radium could not reasonably have been more than 1/4 of a gram - i.e. 1/4 of the naturally occurring radium and 1/36 billionth of all the radioactive material. (6)
SEPA have to date chosen not to dispute this estimate...
SEPA are now threatening that, within a few days, if the MoD does not come up with an expensive plan to remove the "radium" they will declare the land "radioactive contamination". There is allegedly no requirement for them to produce any evidence of this, nor any appeal against this decision....

The main broadcaster has not merely been complicit in maintaining a story they know to be, at least in part, false but have been, in recent months, the most enthusiastic promoter of SEPA's story....

The good news is that in March SEPA backed off from their promise to designate the land as radioactive waste. Not permanently - because the situation is "more complicated than initially believed". They and the MoD will put off their confrontation until then....

(1) Blog on the day about the programme

(2) SEPA's own Assessments

(3) LNT disproven. "Impacts of low dose radiation"

(4) Steurt Campbell's article on the science

(5) Dundee Courier article , P and J letter, Dunfermline Press article

(6) New ban

I also have an article to come on SEPA's response to my last FoI

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Dalgety Bay - A Flank Attack From Another Part of the Burreaucracy

Restrictions have been placed on gathering seafood and bait from a beach affected by radioactive particles.
Warning signs are already in place at Dalgety Bay in Fife saying seafood should not be collected but new restrictions have been issued making it an offence, the Food Standards Agency in Scotland said.
The is "a precautionary measure" following recent surveys detecting radioactive items on the beach, the food watchdog said.
It added that the restrictions will be reviewed in light of further evidence or any action taken "to remediate the contamination".
Although there is no commercial fishing or shellfish industry in the area, individuals are known to collect shellfish, it said.
   If one part of the bureaucracy cannot get its way bring in another. This woll doubtless then be used as "evidence" that there must be a problem because the Food Standards Agency, Scotland also say there is. An ionfinite circle of mutual support held in mid air by itself. The phrase "
a precautionary measure" rather suggests no evidence but we will see.

  This prompts another FoI

Dear Food Standards Agency in Scotland,
                                                                 I note that you have decided to ban fishing in Dalgety Bay, purely on the basis of the alleged finding of radioactive "radium" there. This raises a number of questions of fact and of principle which I must ask you, under the FoI Act, or any other pertinent regulation, to answer.

1 - What evidence, from the FSA's knowledge, do you have of "radium" being found on the beach? If none write "none".

2 - What background readings of radiation has the FSA made at this beach and at others nearby, as a control, and have you found the radiation level higher at Dalgety Bay? Of none and no write "none and no".

3 - Does the FSA accepts SEPA's evidence that the radiation at Dalgety Bay is "less than 2/3rds background in Aberdeen" and that this also makes it as low as 1% of the radiation level in various places around the world from which the FSA does not ban imports? If yes answer "yes".

4 - Does the FSA dispute evidence that the maximum theoretical level of radium from these dials, had all of it been deposited on the beach and none of it washed or blown away over the last 60 years, would not exceed 25% of naturally occurring radium there or 1/35,000,000,000th of the total naturally occuring background radioactives there? If you do not dispute it answer "no".

5 - If the answers are as I suggest then it is obviously impossible to honestly claim there is a real radiation threat to food there, let alone one which, if the rules are applied honestly, would not involve closing down all fishing from Aberdeenshire and points north let alone prohibiting any food imports from much of the world. If that is not currently being done the only possible reason for doing this is to deliberately promote a fraudulent scare story. Is there another credible option? If no answer "no". If there is please give it.

6 - If the answer to 5 is no is there any specific ruling applying to Dalgety Bay but not the rest of the country that prevents this action from representing the very highest standard of honesty the FSA Scotland aspire to or that would make any ruling on any food matter by you infinitely more trustworthy than this. If none and no answer "none and no".

  As you will see I have gone to some pains to make it possible for you to answer this easily and clearly, rather than saying , falsely, that its all on our website, as SEPA have repeatedly donethough if any of the answers are different from those suggested please give reasons. Perhaps this will make it easier to provide an answer before the absolute legal limit of 20 working days.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

How to Give Us The World's Best Education System Again

  Scotland used to have the world's best education system. Say what you like of John Knox but the Reformation led to almost every Scottish household having a book when this was unique in the world. The Scots "lad o' pairts", taught by local schoolmasters ran London and the British Empire. It was this education system that allowed us to take full advantage of the union with England.

  Unfortunately, probably for the fist time since the 12thC (when Scotland had 4 Universities and England 2), our educational results are below those of England.
Scottish pupils fall behind English counterparts... despite costing £1,400 more per student
   So what to do. Well I will rely heavily here on Jerry Pournelle whose has had a lifetime of serious interest in the subject.
It’s pretty well accepted among those who study education that schools can be fixed – or at least doubled in effectiveness – by the simple expedient of firing the 10% least competent teachers and not replacing them. Just allocate their students to the other teachers. As to who are the 10% least competent, you will find by and large that everyone knows who they are.

1 -   Most Scottish political debate is on which party is most committed to reducing class sizes. This is code for employing more teachers even as school rolls fall. However, below class sizes approaching 50 there is no real evidence that class size has a serious influence on outcomes. What does is having good teachers which is why Pournelle's proposal of getting rid of the worst 10% would have the advantage of improving average teaching ability with the only, unimportant downside being class sizes.

   What small class sizes really do is provide more government jobs and more members for the teaching unions. If the purpose of government education programmes is to pay teachers and the actual education is secondary at best it is easy to explain how Scots politicians currently run education. If the politician's sincere purpose is the nominal; one of education then the other explanation is that they are all insane morons. If there is a 3rd option no doubt somebody will be able to say what it is.

2 - Allow the imposition of discipline. Personally I would include the belt in that. This seems to me to be infinitely more caring of most children than allowing their chance of a decent education ruined by letting  a small number of rowdy pupils literally run riot. On the other hand I would not require this of all schools. Let the governors and head teacher set rules for each school. Only by allowing variation do we see what works. Which brings me to...

3 - Parental choice voucher system
As has been shown by Professor Milton Friedman (M. Friedman, The role of government in education, 1955), it would now be entirely practicable to defray the costs of general education out of the public purse without maintaining government schools, by giving the parents vouchers covering the cost of education of each child which they could hand over to schools of their choice. It may still be desirable that government directly provide schools in a few isolated communities where the number of children is too small (and the average cost of education therefore too high) for privately run schools. But with respect to the great majority of the population, it would undoubtedly be possible to leave the organization and management of education entirely to private efforts, with the government providing merely the basic finance and ensuring a minimum standard for all schools where the vouchers could be spent. (F. A. Hayek, The Constitution of Liberty, section 24.3)

  1955 is some time ago & at least since the 1980s politicians have been speaking in favour of this. Perhaps it is time to actually do something.

4 - Adult education. The statistical report I have referred to a number of times before said that they did not find a positive correlation between growth and educational spending, somewhat to their surprise. However there was such a correlation with adult male educational spending, which I assume goes overwhelmingly to motivated people wanting to improve their career prospects.

     I don't automatically take it from that that their is not a close link between educational achievement and growth, that would still surprise me. Instead I think there is not a close link between the amount government spends on education (or at least programmes whose nominal purpose is education) and the level of education delivered.

    In any case putting more effort and money into the adult field and having the teaching not done by professional teachers but by professionals, possibly retired professionals, in the fields being taught. Pournelle has, on occasion, mentioned that army sergeants have consistently managed to teach even the basics to recruits whom the "professionals" had failed to teach.
5 - Prizes. I am not entirely comfortable with this since it will tend to widen inequality but the logic is inescapable. Pournelle again
The only way that education comes close to being an investment in the future is if it makes the public school graduates more productive citizens. It is not politically correct to notice that this really means that you ought to concentrate on the smartest students; there is little return on investment put into the disabled, feebleminded, and those with behavior problems that doom them to being unproductive. National wealth depends on production and productivity, not on getting a dull normal child to get a ‘passing grade’. Yes, half the children are below average, and that and they cannot be ignored; but adding a few points to the SAT score of a child with IQ 89 is unlikely ever to have a payoff equal to the cost of the education. You aren’t suppose to say this, but nearly everyone knows it.
  So the way to solve this is to pay more for good results. I am not calling for less money to be spent on education, quite possibly the opposite, so long as it is spent providing the promised results. We have either £1400 per pupil or 10% of teacher's salaries, or both, to invest, from carrying out the previous proposals. So lets put that into prizes. Institute graded prizes for those getting above current average results, particularly in the real sciences. If the average pupil in the top 50% got £500 a year for passing exams and the teacher got £500 and the school got £500 I think we would see some pretty spectacular motivation. among all 3.

    Prizes do work. Sometimes as much as 33-100 times better than conventional funding.

   The only problem would be that if our education system improved as much as I think it would (with great care being taken to prevent the "rampant grade inflation" it is now acknowledged we have seen) we would have to pay quite a lot more, quite possibly another £1,400 per pupil.

   That is a problem I would be happy to see.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Taxpayer Funded Alarmists Lobbying For Ever Bigger Government - Scotsman Letter

   This is in today's Scotsman
Clark Cross is correct to be suspicious that a seminar run by Scottish Renewables and renewableUK may provide a less than accurate assessment of the merits and otherwise of windmills.

Scottish Renewables employees have frequently appeared in the readers letters columns making claims which do not accord with the facts and when not in the public view might be expected to be even less concerned about accuracy.
However he is wrong to describe these organisations, lobbying our government for even more subsidy, as being funded only by the industry that directly benefits from the subsidies.

Scottish Renewables' membership list, on their website, consists in roughly equal measure, of subsidised industrialists and of government departments, quangos and councils.

RenewablesUK is more circumspect about its memberships but says it "plays a crucial role in bringing together all the key players" which suggests its membership is similar.
When government spends 60% of the money in the economy, as ours does, it is inevitable that companies, particularly in subsidy dependent industries, will spend a considerable amount of money lobbying for government's favour.
What is more reprehensible is the vicious circle whereby government departments, using our money, lobby each other and spend our money "raising awareness" of false scare stories of the "need" for ever more of our money to be spent by them and their ever growing bureaucratic empires.
Unfortunately every Holyrood party believes in Mencken's dictum that "the practical purpose of politics is to keep the public scared and eager th be led by frightening them with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary" and have no intention of ending using our money for the purpose.
Ref - quote from Renewables UK

    I am very pleased with went in unedited except for dividing it into more paragraphs. It contains everything except the word "fakecharity" which the MSM resolutely refuse to use. Even the Mencken quote which I have used in Scotsman letters more than once before and also recently appeared on EU Referendum, where I have commented before.

   The underlined bit is underlined simply because I think it is the heart of the matter.

    Both Clark Cross to whom I am replying and Dr GM Lindsay are regulars, in the cause of sanity, in Scotsman and other newspapers lettercolumns and though we have not met in the flesh we have online.

    Since Brian Monteith mentioned me my  publication ratio in the Scotsman seems to have risen.

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Monday, May 14, 2012

Proof Our Leaders Are Less Competent Than Mugabe

In its latest Regional Economic Outlook, the IMF forecast 5.4 percent growth this year from 5.1 percent in 2011. Its previous projections were 5.9 and 5.5 percent respectively.

     Part of a rather downbeat assessment of African progress.

     While the EU wallows in a  the 5th year of a politically produced recession.

     Wouldn't it be wonderful if we had political leadership that could hope to reach the heights of competence of Mugabe and co?

     With Africa, not exactly renowned for good government, slightly bringing down the average 7% growth rate of humanity outwith the US/Europe does anybody doubt that we could easily reach that average, and with effort exceed China's 11% average if our parasitic governments wanted/ Can anybody give any credible reason whatsoever, other than our politicians why not?
HT Al Fin

My programme for growth far exceeding China's which nobody seriously disputes will work

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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Neoliberalism - An Ideal That Failed Withou Being Tried

  The supporters of Big Government regularly claim that the present recession is simply another case of "neoliberalism" failing. Also here. Allegedly, for the last 2 decades at least we have had neoliberals like Tony Blair, David Cameron, George Bush Jr and co running the world and that their failure means we should try something more centralised.

   Well if neoliberalism got us here that would indeed be a significant criticism.

    But lets look at what the term actually means.
The term “neoliberalism” was coined in 1938 by the German scholar Alexander Rüstow at the Colloque Walter Lippmann. The colloquium defined the concept of neoliberalism as “the priority of the price mechanism, the free enterprise, the system of competition and a strong and impartial state.”To be “neoliberal” meant that “laissez-faire” liberalism is not enough and that - in the name of liberalism - a modern economic policy is required. After the colloquium “neoliberalism” became a label for several academical approaches such as the Freiburg school, the Austrian School or the Chicago school of economics.

   So absolutely nothing in common with Tony Blair and hardly anything with either of the others either.

   What happened is, once again, that political fraudsters, claiming to be of the "left"  stole a word and are trying to alter its meaning. This is very much as Orwell prophesied:
The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of IngSoc, but to make all other modes of thought impossible. It was intended that when Newspeak had been adopted once and for all and Oldspeak forgotten, a heretical thought -- that is, a thought diverging from the principles of IngSoc -- should be literally unthinkable, at least so far as thought is dependent on words. Its vocabulary was so constructed as to give exact and often very subtle expression to every meaning that a Party member could properly wish to express, while excluding all other meaning and also the possibility of arriving at them by indirect methods. This was done partly by the invention of new words, but chiefly by eliminating undesirable words and stripping such words as remained of unorthodox meanings, and so far as possible of all secondary meaning whatever.
To give a single example - The word free still existed in Newspeak, but could only be used in such statements as "The dog is free from lice" or "This field is free from weeds." It could not be used in its old sense of "politically free" or "intellectually free," since political and intellectual freedom no longer existed even as concepts, and were therefore of necessity nameless.

  In the same way "liberal" & "neoliberal" are being deliberately redefined by totalitarians. Or as wikipedia cheerfully puts it.
Expanded definition
The meaning of neoliberalism has changed over time and come to mean different things to different groups. As a result, it is very hard to define. This is seen by the fact that authoritative sources on neoliberalism, such as Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, David Harvey and Noam Chomsky do not agree about the meaning of neoliberalism. This lack of agreement creates major problems in creating an unbiased and unambiguous definition of neoliberalism. This section aims to define neoliberalism more accurately and show how its evolution has influenced the different uses of the word.
One of the first problems with the meaning of neoliberalism is that liberalism, on which it is based, is also very hard to describe.
    Occasionally words do legitimately change their meaning over centuries as the old meaning, becomes redundant. However when the original meaning has not become redundant and is in use it must, by definition be the correct usage. And those claiming otherwise be liars.

   The fact is that neoliberalism cannot be in any way to blame for the current recession. It has actually been caused by the parasitic promoters of Big Government - precisely and exactly the opposite of liberalism, neo or otherwise.

   And therefore that those from the BBC and Guardian through virtually the entire "socialist"/"left" movement are personally the precisely and exactly the opposite of truthful  Something worth bearing in mind when they speak on any subject.

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