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Saturday, January 14, 2006


I ran across this rather interesting article about the Israeli position on Iranian nuclear. I am uncomfortable with all options here but in general would rather stick with the rule of international law while recognising the limitations of that to.

Legally the Non Proliferation Treaty specificly allows any nation to have commercial nuclear power but not military. Certainly if the world is ever to achieve anything like the sort of living standard we are used to the poorer countries will have to use large amounts of nuclear electricity - there just isn't enough of anything else available.

Whether Iran needs nuclear power, being a major oil producer, is a related but not entirely equivalent question & I suspect that prestige plays as big a part as economics in the decision. However there seems to be very little evidence that Iran is making bombs - indeed most of what has been found points much more clearly to material shipped from Pakistan, our ally.

If there isn't evidence then it would be us not Iran who was in breach of the treaty if we tried to prevent them having commercial reactors. In any case the link between commercial reactors & bombs is not that close - in the same way that the link between building 747s & fighter jets is not close, but also not non-existent.

According to the article
Israeli intelligence has determined that Iran has neither the enriched uranium nor the capability to produce an atomic weapon now or in the immediate future, in contrast to the hysterical claims publicized by the US pro-Israel lobbies. Mohammed El Baradei, head of the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has inspected Iran for several years, has pointed out that the IAEA has found no proof that Iran is trying to construct nuclear weapons. He criticized Israeli and US war plans indirectly by warning that a "military solution would be completely un-productive".

& while, for obvious reasons, nobody closer than "sources close to" is going to go on record on this, it has a ring of truth. In which case it is not neccessary to "solve" this problem immediately.

On the 3rd hand I have considerable sympathy for Israel here. the level of proof that we should correctly require is somewhat higher then they, who are directly threatened, need & if they decided to bomb the Iranian sites, with US encouragement or otherwise, I would find it hard to condemn them. For many years the UN had an annual ritual condemnation of Israel for doing that to Iraq to stop them developing a bomb, which now appears rather hypocritical. There is also the fact that Iran's new leader has called for the destruction of Israel, which doesn't put him remotely alongside monsters like Clinton who rather than calling for, carried out the Krajina genocide, but still makes him a credible threat.
All top Israeli officials have pronounced the end of March, 2006, as the deadline for launching a military assault on Iran. The thinking behind this date is to heighten the pressure on the US to force the sanctions issue in the Security Council. The tactic is to blackmail Washington with the "war or else" threat, into pressuring Europe (namely Great Britain, France, Germany and Russia) into approving sanctions. Israel knows that its acts of war will endanger thousands of American soldiers in Iraq, and it knows that Washington (and Europe) cannot afford a third war at this time
I will be watching to see if Bush is pushing for that date.

However if the US or Israel were to do this they would be setting a precedent which would make permanent enemies of every nation that hopes someday to achieve our standard of wealth. Though the concept of many countries having commercial nuclear power is frightening the concept of preventing it & making enemies of every country that feels itself caught in poverty by the western military is worse. Fair dealing is normally more rewarding over time & always safer than mugging.

Friday, January 13, 2006


After years of reporting about how "hot spots" keep being found on the Dounray beach here we have another one EVEN WORSE!!!!
Material from a Fife beach is to be removed to check for radioactivity.
The contamination at Dalgety Bay is believed to come from the luminous dials of wartime aircraft thought to have been dumped there after the war.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency has agreed to spend £50,000 to find out the extent of contamination and whether it presents a health risk.

Sepa said more radioactive items were being detected at the Fife headland than at Sandside Beach near Dounreay.

More than 50 particles have been found on the Sandside Beach, near the Caithness nuclear plant, during monitoring of the area.

................She said: "When they did some monitoring here last year they found 90 radioactive items, clearly far more than have been found at Sandside Beach near Dounreay.

"Some are more active than others - the point of this next piece of monitoring is to take the material away and find out just how dangerous it is and whether or not it is fine enough to be swallowed or inhaled.

Health advice

"It could give you a skin burn if you held a piece of this clinker for a long time, for many hours, but it could be quite dangerous if you swallowed it or breathed it in and that's what they want to find out about."

What absolute nonsense. There is clearly absolutely no real world problem whatsoever. This is said to be material from illuminated dials on WW2 bombers destroyed at the end of the war. Imagine how little the amount left now compared to what was handled back then.

However this is described as much more serious than the repeated hysterical stories the media spin about Dounray & I'm sure it is. On one occasion I remember that there was likely to be a microscopic particle at which, if eaten, MIGHT increase the cost of cancer & to ensure safety they would have to remove the top 6 inchs of the beach. So if you ever choose to eat the top 6 inchs of a beach don't go here & it you'll be perfectly healthy.

Of course having done stories about Dounray, failing at all times to mention how "hot" the hot spots actually are, they couldn't ignore this nonsense.

If you fancy a radioactive beach try a holiday in Brazil. At a beach in Guarapari, Brazil, it is over 5 millirem in a single hour -- but only a few residents who use that beach receive doses in excess of 500 millirem per year. I think that is about 3 times the official safe limit for humans. There are many other places where natural radioactivity is well above any manmade material we are exposed to without any harm (quite the reverse -see previous articles on hormesis).

Michael Crichton made a point which I can't agree with but can't dispute - that if it is wrong for someone to deliberately shout "fire" in a crowdwd theatre is it not equally wrong for a newspaper or broadcaster to report "radiation" scares or "global warming" or "DDT kills" in a crowded world if they know, or should know, it is unjustified?

Thursday, January 12, 2006


The Herald, 9 January 2006

Protection of Nessie perplexed men from the ministry

JEAN FORREST January 09 2006

SENIOR government officials debated how best to protect the Loch Ness monster from poachers.
Newly-released files show that during the 1980s the government was in turmoil about how to deal with the monster should it ever surface.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the secretary of state for Scotland spent time contemplating whether Nessie should be protected.

Records released through the Freedom of Information Act show discussions about Nessie at the Scottish Office began in 1985.

British officials reacted after the Swedish government was looking for advice on what to do about the country's mythical creature, the Storsjo monster.

A letter was sent from the British embassy in Stockholm to the under-secretary at the Scottish Office. It began: "I am sorry to bother you with an inquiry which will no doubt be greeted at first glance with gales of laughter."

The letter sparked a flurry of memos between government departments.

JB Barty, a rural group civil servant, wrote: "The protection of this putative denizen of the deep deserves serious consideration."

JF Buckle, an official at the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, wrote: "Unfortunately, Nessie is not a salmon and would not appear to qualify as a freshwater fish under the Salmon and Fisheries Protection (Scotland) Act 1951."

The Swedish Nessie equivalent did enjoy specific legal protection from 1986, but it was revoked two months ago.

It was decided Nessie should be protected under the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act, rather than specialised legislation. This made it an offence to snare, shoot or blow it up.

Copyright 2006, The Herald

Spotted by B.J. Peiser of CCN to whichyou can sign up


This is a recent submission by BNFL to the Scottish Parliament. While some may think it unsurprising that a nuclear company should be saying how neccessary it is to go nuclear the strength of their evidence is distintcly unusual. Despite what the enemies of capitalism may think, experience shows that companies, particularly large companies with a close relationship to government normally go to great lengths not to disturb, at least publicly, the illusions of the politicians they have to butter up & indeed even here they go through some contortions to treat renewables seriously as in the use of the word "challenging" meaning "you are an idiot minister" (most of which I have not bothered with). Some excerpts with my emphasis in bold

· We believe meeting the target of producing 18% of electricity from renewables by 2010 will be challenging and it is extremely unlikely that Scotland could produce 40% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

At present no industrialised country generates electricity with such a high proportion of renewables generation, other than those which can take advantage of large-scale hydropower. It remains to be demonstrated that a reliable national electricity supply system can operate with such a high degree of intermittent and unpredictable generation as would be required to meet the Scottish Executive's 40% target.

Such a high percentage of intermittent renewable generation would require a completely new electricity supply management system if security of supply is to be maintained. Even if such a system were possible it would add further to the high costs of renewable generation. In the absence of any clear option for large-scale electricity storage, any back-up generation for renewables would probably be based on gas-fired generation. This would inevitably lead to increased carbon dioxide emissions and the demand for gas, with its inherent security of supply concerns.

There are widely held concerns about the amount of renewable energy which current infrastructure can accommodate, the cost of back-up capacity, the ability to find investors and planning issues around siting of renewables. There is also the very question of whether enough renewable capacity can actually be manufactured, installed and commissioned on the targeted timescales. Many authoritative and informed bodies - such as the Royal Academy of Engineering1, the Institution of Civil Engineers2, the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies3 and the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee4 - have expressed these concerns.

What are the opportunities and implications for the economy in achieving the targets?

To meet the Scottish Executive's targets means that by 2020 Scotland would produce around 40% of its electricity from a carbon-free source, making a contribution towards minimising Scotland's greenhouse gas emissions. It must be remembered that Scotland already has more than this proportion of carbon-free power through the current mix - mainly from nuclear and hydro-power. Exclusive pursuit of such challenging renewable energy targets without the consideration of other generation options will mean that Scotland will limit the economic effectiveness of its climate change and energy policy. This would impact on Scotland's economy as a whole.

............. Renewable Obligation Certificates are trading at a price considerably above the buy-out price. It seems clear that across the UK many renewable energy projects will need a substantial subsidy for many years. The cost of providing such a subsidy sufficient to support a rapid growth of renewable generation in Scotland would raise energy prices substantially. This would have an immediate and obvious impact on Scotland's industrial competitiveness. It would also make the important task of reducing domestic fuel poverty much more difficult.
What are the implications if the Executive's targets are not met?

If the targets are not met and no Plan B, such as replacement nuclear build, has been delivered Scotland will face electricity shortages due to lack of capacity. Increased greenhouse gas emissions will also result as fossil fuel power stations will be needed to fill the gap in generation left by the retirement of Scotland's current nuclear capacity. The retirement of older coal-fired generation over the next 15 years will further add to the need for new generation capacity, be that nuclear, coal or gas. This is not simply scaremongering; this is an inevitable consequence. Increasing demand coupled with decreasing supply can lead nowhere else.
It may be better if the share of generation from renewables were to grow sustainably, rather than be overextended in order to meet an over-optimistic, artificial and unnecessary target.


In the consultation paper "Scotland's Renewable Energy Potential - Beyond 2010"6 it was recognised that that renewable developments do not tend to create large numbers of jobs. Furthermore, there must be serious doubts as to whether those jobs created from an expansion of renewable generation will be based in local communities hosting renewable energy projects. The skill areas required by the renewables programme will be in manufacturing and in offshore construction. With the rundown in domestic manufacturing industry it is doubtful that we currently possesses the necessary degree, depth or range of skills to meet this manufacturing challenge. Furthermore, given that construction experience and associated facilities for the manufacture of wind turbines already exist elsewhere in Europe, it is unlikely that it would be viable to re-generate such a pool of expertise within the UK. A Scottish Renewables programme is likely therefore to be heavily dependant on a skilled workforce based in Europe or elsewhere.

The impact of closure of existing nuclear power stations should also be considered. Scotland's nuclear power stations provide skilled jobs in their local community. In the absence of a commitment to replacement build it is likely that skilled workforce will have to move away from their local area to find jobs with similar levels of responsibility and reward. It is unlikely that the proposed growth in renewables will compensate for this.
The UK as a whole will need to import up to 90% of the gas it needs from places such as Russia, Algeria and the Middle East. This situation leaves the UK as a whole, and thus Scotland, vulnerable to supply disruption and price instability - and at the end of a long trans-European gas pipeline. The electricity price is very likely to rise and is highly sensitive to the bulk gas price, which will be outside Scottish or UK control.

Even with 40% of electricity generation from renewables Scotland would still be vulnerable to security of supply weakness if it relied on gas to supply the remaining 60% of its electricity, in particular if the 40% of renewables is backed up with yet more gas.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


Last week I got a reply advising that I would receive an answer to what specificly I had written to get me expelled but since nothing has arrived & I am supposed to get a written defence to them by the 16th I decided it was time to send this. Copies have also gone out to various party representatives.

It is now a month since the Scottish Lib Dem Executive made a preliminary decision to expel me on the grounds that letters I had written to newspapers & my blog were "illiberal & inconsistent with membership of the party". On receipt of your letter I immediately, not only denied having done any such thing, but asked you to justify your allegation by the expedient of saying exactly what "illiberal" things I had said. Or indeed what things more inconsistent with party policy than the remarks of John Thurso sympathetic to nuclear power, with which I agree, or of Jenny Tonge sympathetic to suicide bombers, with which I don't.

I have written in favour of nuclear power, of growing our economy by the methods recommended by Adam Smith & against illegal war & the censorship of the mass grave of 210 bodies at Dragodan created by our KLA allies during the period of & within the UK occupation zone, but I dispute that any of this can properly be described as "illiberal" - quite the opposite.

You have asked me to supply you with, in what is now less than 6 days time, my defence for remarks you refuse to specify, despite an email assurance from you that you would do so. I consider this illiberal.

I wish to quote from Mr Kennedy's resignation speech, since it shows understanding the party will dearly need in the future:

"there is a genuine debate going on within this party -
somewhat crudely caricatured at times as being in rather redundant terms as between left and right; in rather simplistic terms as between social liberals and economic liberals; in rather misleading terms as between traditionalists and modernisers.

I have never accepted that these are irreconcilable instincts - indeed, quite the opposite.
And I believe that unity remains fundamental to our further advance and success.

It should be a debate driven by ourselves.

It must not be allowed to become dictated by others who do not share our long-term hopes and goals.

We must stand and argue - politically independent and intellectually self-confident.

And it must be based on time-honoured, sound philosophic liberal principles - principles which have stood the test of generations and remain not just as relevant to but even more essential in British politics today.

The leadership personalities change from time to time in politics, but principles should not. Civil liberties; justice and rule of international law;"

If we accept that free trade & the principles of Adam Smith also form part of these time honoured principles along with the already mentioned respect for international law then it must be obvious that I have been in no way "illiberal" & I do not think that anybody who knows history could dispute that. Everything I have written has been according to liberal principles & I stand by them.

I firmly believe that it is in the interest of the party to stand for liberal values & particularly for the individual against the state (nanny or otherwise). The other 2 parties are fighting, like WW1 generals, over every nuance of ground of the statist wing of the "left right dispute" - we should stand for the individual not the state & when that means, as it will, that some policies can be portrayed as "left" & some as "right" we should not let ourselves be drawn into that outdated political morass.

This is not merely a matter of leadership's abuse of executive power against a single member. It is a matter of whether there is intended to be any place in the Scottish party for traditional liberals. I note that of the 10 motions (excluding business & holding motions) chosen for debate at conference, 5 (#1,2,7,8,10) specifically conform to the luddite side of the green movement & not one represents the above mentioned liberal values. Indeed only 3 come from constituency parties, 2 of them the same constituency.

In the circumstances I think it not unreasonable to insist that if you wish to put forward a specific allegation you do so within the next 48 hours or else completely withdraw.
Neil Craig

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


3 weeks ago I sent this email to David Cameron cc Annabelle Goldie
Dear Mr Cameron,
I see that in your vist to Scotland you have stated that you would be willing to support the Scottish Conservatives in a decision to use the income tax reduction option available to the Scottish Parliament.

I would be very interested to hear whether you would also support putting the same investment into a reduction of corporation tax in Scotland. This would require either an alteration to the Scotland Act, since corporation tax is a reserved matter, or for Westminster to pass this in the same way that heretofore Westminster would put alterations in Scots law into Westminster Bills.

I don't know if you are aware that reducing corporation tax is a major plank of SNP policy although they have expressed the opinion that Westminster would never allow it (this may be part of the attraction). You will almost certainly not be aware that I have tried, several times under the previous leader, to introduce a motion supporting a corporation tax reduction for debate at the Scottish Liberal Democrat conference.

Since Nicol Stephen has taken over & publicly committed himself to reducing business rates below the UK level & is unlikely to oppose increased powers for the Scottish Parliament I have considerable hope that this will, in time, be adopted.

The example of Ireland strongly suggests that reduced corporation tax would, together with a favourable regulatory regime, greatly encourage free market economic growth. Such success would, I think, be very popular & reflect well on the parties that supported it. A few years ago Reform did a survey of political opinion & found that while Scots are about 2 points to the "left" on most issues they were, by a large majority, of the opinion that business tax reduction would be an important ingredient of growth.

A Holyrood government which, under proportional representation, was able to achieve economic success by agreement among market free market orientated parties would also be a good example to the UK.

I look forward to hearing from you.
Neil Craig

(this was drafted before finding that my Enterprise motion was again not to be called or that the Lib Dems were expelling me)
I have just got back
Dear Mr Craig,

Thank you for writing to David Cameron – he’s asked me to thank you and to say that he appreciated what you had to say. Thank you for pointing out your blog too.
David Cameron has set up six policy groups to examine key areas of concern and challenges we face. These challenges are complex, interconnected and require serious long-term thinking; we want to make sure we get the solutions to these challenges right.

There are six policy groups, which includes social justice, national and international security, quality of life, improvement of public services, economic competitiveness and globalisation and global poverty. Each group will engage expertise from outside politics, and over the next 18 months carry out detailed work to identify all of the issues and relevant facts surrounding each challenge and look at creative ideas. They will not set party policy. But once that process is complete, the information they have gathered will be used to help inform a policy development process.

Many thanks again for writing.

Now lets be fair - I have no right, as a single private citizen, to expect the Tory party to make policy on the hoof purely on my say so & at least we know that the economy is the 4th of 6 items on their to do list. On the other hand isn't it reasonable to expect either the Central or Scottish party to have some opinions on the matter or to have something somebody has said on the subject to hand? What

I was really hoping for was to say that just as the Tories are leaving it up to the Scots party to decide on income tax cuts they wouldn't stand in the way of a corporation tax cut & am therefore not disappointed to find that there is, at least, no specific objection to it - it would seem likely that if the Scots Tories were to push firmly for this there would be no resistance.

There are almost certainly going to be some things in the next 18 months on which Mr Cameron will have to express an opinion.


Recently when Lesley Riddoch, who is doing a radio series said on air she was looking for ideas re her show I, somewhat sarkily, sent her a copy of the list of programme ideas I had sent last year (it is in my 14th November 04 archive) & she sent back a reply that she was indeed shortly going to be doing a bit about the reasons for the growth of the Irish economy.

Now lets be fair - this did not mean that I had persuaded them to do it & I seriously doubt if the BBC will be taking up my other suggestion for running a programme on the Bilderberg Group.

On the other hand I must admit to being quite chuffed when, at the end of today's programme Lesley said "It's your turn now Neil Craig, next week we will be discussing the reasons for the success of the Irish economy".

So in return

Tuesday 11:05 Lesley's Off the Fence
A new weekly series where Lesley Riddoch enjoys heated debate with other feisty types from our neighbouring countries, Northern Ireland, Wales, Ireland, and sometimes Scandinavia and beyond. Topical discussion exploring what they think of Scotland, what lessons we have for each other, and how each country sees some of the week's major stories. Direct speaking, no nonsense grilling by Lesley Riddoch for half an hour. Do our neighbours know what theyre letting themselves in for?!

Monday, January 09, 2006


Gary's show on radio Scotland has been doing a piece about modernising & extending Glasgow's underground - a project estimated at £800 million. I sent this email & Gary, somewhat to my surprise read it out:

What we should be doing with the underground is to fully automate it as Docklands light Rail is. Without drivers it would be possible to run more units - probably single carriage units but 3 times as many of them & to run it all night. Running costs would be significantly reduced & capacity & speed significantly increased. This would also be far cheaper, since it only involves computerisation & electronics, than cutting new tunnels so we wouldn't be spending £2,000 per Glaswegian


Even more to my surprise the SPT representative agreed with me that automation was a way to go, that many European countries are automating their light rail & that while it can't quite run 24/7 because you have to do repairs but could run from 5AM to 3AM. He did say that the small size of tunnels could make the installation of new electronics tricky & it would still leave the underground without an escape tunnel (I see where he's going) but these are clearly solvable problems.

This is a line I have for some time been pushing to various people in the party with getting theoretical approval. My belief is that there is no technical reason why trains should nowadays have drivers & that if we are ever to have a public transport system with the flexibility to replace widespread car use it will be an automated one.


This is really off the wall & while I wouldn't hold my breath. However it is clear that some serious USAF investment is available.

The hypothetical device, which has been outlined in principle but is based on a controversial theory about the fabric of the universe, could potentially allow a spacecraft to travel to Mars in three hours and journey to a star 11 light years away in just 80 days, according to a report in today's New Scientist magazine.

The theoretical engine works by creating an intense magnetic field that, according to ideas first developed by the late scientist Burkhard Heim in the 1950s, would produce a gravitational field and result in thrust for a spacecraft.

Also, if a large enough magnetic field was created, the craft would slip into a different dimension, where the speed of light is faster, allowing incredible speeds to be reached. Switching off the magnetic field would result in the engine reappearing in our current dimension.

The US air force has expressed an interest in the idea and scientists working for the American Department of Energy - which has a device known as the Z Machine that could generate the kind of magnetic fields required to drive the engine - say they may carry out a test if the theory withstands further scrutiny.

Professor Jochem Hauser, one of the scientists who put forward the idea, told The Scotsman that if everything went well a working engine could be tested in about five years.

However, Prof Hauser, a physicist at the Applied Sciences University in Salzgitter, Germany, and a former chief of aerodynamics at the European Space Agency, cautioned it was based on a highly controversial theory that would require a significant change in the current understanding of the laws of physics.

"It would be amazing. I have been working on propulsion systems for quite a while and it would be the most amazing thing. The benefits would be almost unlimited," he said.

"But this thing is not around the corner; we first have to prove the basic science is correct and there are quite a few physicists who have a different opinion.

"It's our job to prove we are right and we are working on that."

He said the engine would enable spaceships to travel to different solar systems. "If the theory is correct then this is not science fiction, it is science fact," Prof Hauser said.

"NASA have contacted me and next week I'm going to see someone from the [US] air force to talk about it further, but it is at a very early stage. I think the best-case scenario would be within the next five years [to build a test device] if the technology works."

The US authorities' attention was attracted after Prof Hauser and an Austrian colleague, Walter Droscher, wrote a paper called "Guidelines for a space propulsion device based on Heim's quantum theory".

A personal niggle - every time something new comes up somebody says "this is no longer science fiction" - they should try some & not keep getting caught by surprise.

Sunday, January 08, 2006


Regulars here will see that I have published stuff from Peter North whose research on such things as what the Croatian Nazi leader Tudjman actually said has been invaluable.

Pete has his own blog

What is also rather astonishing which he pointed out to me & I can confirm, is that various search engines do not acknowledge his blog's existence as this link to a Google search for "peter north" "nato media lies" reporting that it does not match anything shows.

If I were paranoid I would think the search engines were being censored - since I try not to be, at least as a first assumption, I would be interested if anybody who knows more about it than I can explain this.
This morning (Monday) I got this from Pete

Dear Neil,

This is absolutely INCREDIBLE. Just a few short hours
AFTER you published your item post, all of a sudden,
out of the blue, after almost an ENTIRE MONTH of not
being picked up by ANY internet search engine, my blog
site suddenly & miraculously APPEARS on Google!!!

This would have to rank AS ONE OF THE MOST BIZARRE
examples of... ahhum ..."Coincidence" [??] I have ever
seen in my entire life!!!

Indeed - not believing conspiracy theories is sometimes hard work.

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