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Saturday, April 23, 2011


About the only "environmental" scare story over the last 50 years, out of hundreds, which hasn't been proven wrong is the CFC Ozone Hole link.

No longer. They told us that it would take about 50 years after giving up CFCs for the hole to start closing but it did so immediately, which might suggest the effect was more instantaneois or it might have been connected with the fact that the volcanic Mount Erebus had stopped spewing out millions of tons of sulphur dioxide. Dodgy but not disproven then.

However now the hole has started expanding again, which simply cannot be because of an increase in CFCs necause they aren't - supporting the view that it has been varying throughout history it is just that nobody noticed, because it was having no effect, and until recently nobody had used instruments that could measure the amount of UV getting through there.

Piling Irony on irony the current expansion is being blamed on the excessively LOW temperatures being recorded, in this era of alleged catastrophic warming and melting ice caps.

On top of that this article dissects how the story is being dishnonestly spun by the BBC etc.
"13 April 2011 - "The ozone layer has seen unprecedented damage in the Arctic this winter due to cold weather in the upper atmosphere," said this article last week by BBC environmental correspondent Richard Black.

"By the end of March, 40% of the ozone in the stratosphere had been destroyed, against a previous record of 30%," says Black.

Severe ozone depletion has been seen over Scandinavia, Greenland, and parts of Canada and Russia.

It must have pained the BBC to publish this, because their headline - "Arctic ozone levels in never-before-seen plunge" - carefully avoids the word "cold."

However, I will give them credit for admitting - in the very first paragraph - that the damage is due to cold weather in the upper atmosphere.

Then, in an apparent attempt to switch the focus onto humans, Black reminds us that ozone "is destroyed by reactions with industrial chemicals."

"We have some winters that get much colder than before and also the cold periods last longer, into the spring," said Braathen. "The destructive reactions are promoted by cold conditions (below -78C) in the stratosphere."

Did you know that cold weather had
anything to do with the so-called "ozone hole"?

"Usually in cold winters we observe that about 25% of the ozone disappears, but this winter was really a record - 40% of the column has disappeared," said Dr Florence Goutail from the French National Centre for Scientific Research.

"Research by Markus Rex from the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany suggests that winters that stand out as being cold in the Arctic stratosphere are getting colder."

Meanwhile, MSNBC also covered this subject. On the same day, as a matter of fact. But for some reason, they mentioned the colder weather only once."

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Friday, April 22, 2011


  John Redwood had this on his blog yesterday
Today we see figures for the state of the public finances over the last financial year, 2010-11.

Current public spending is up by 5.1%. Tax revenues are up by 6.9%. Additional Public Sector Net borrowing after financial sector interventions falls from £156.5 billion 2009-10, to £141 billion 2010-11.
  So only a very minor improvement over the last year and virtually all due to tax rises. Actual spending has gone up MORE than the rate of inflation. The effect of tax rises are unsustainable because while they initially raise money they have a negative overall effect on productivity over time. So at best a year wasted.
  By comparison this article comes up with a quite different optimum rate of tax. Personally I think it underestimates the extent to which over large government, by creating regulations so that government employees have something to do (most "environmentalism, health and safety regs and building controls) have a negative effect, 20 times the actual cost of paying such people. I also think it overemphasises the positive role of government - defence and maintaining the rule of law. Defence, as defence rather than threatening other nations, is a function of the conventional military threat from others, which is currently close to zero & things like the invasion of Iraq actually had a negative effect on our security by recruiting people to terrorism.. The rule of law aspect is less clear cut - state action may or may not have encouraged the break down of law and much of the legal system may not be optimally constructed to deter crime. Certainly the growth in lawlessness correlates quite closely with the growth in the state share of GNP and it cannot be assumed this is a coincidence.

    Thus I think the author's optimum should actually be the highest figure. I would make an exception of allowing another 1% of GNP to be devoted to technology X-Prizes but see no sign of that being an option.

    The article deals with America but the laws of economics are not significantly altered by national borders. Some excerpts:
What is this optimal level of government? A reliable econometric model developed for this study finds that:

In order to maximize economic growth, the average rate for federal, state and local taxes combined should be between 21.5 percent and 22.9 percent of gross national product (GNP).....

Real GNP increased at a compound growth rate of 3.5 percent per year from 1949 to 1989. If an average tax rate of 23 percent had been in effect throughout the 40-year period, the growth rate would have been 5.56 percent per year. As a result:
Real GNP would have been $13.6 trillion by 1989.  (by 2011 ie after 62 years GNP, with a 2.06% excess growth would be 3.5 times what it is - Britain has had a lower 2.5% growth rate and could expect to have done better).....

In the 18th century, federal, state and local taxes were less than 5 percent of gross national product, and 95 percent of federal revenue came from tariffs.

In the 19th century, tax revenue as a share of GNP gradually rose, but it never exceeded 10 percent.....
Many excuses and rationalizations for the productivity slowdown have been offered, including inadequate physical and human capital formation, too much regulation (especially environmental regulation), low research and development expenditures and the energy crisis. There is considerable evidence, however, that the underlying cause is the growth in the size of government since World War II and the accompanying increase in taxes.
The underlying cause of our productivity decline is the growth in the size of government.....

When resources are allocated privately, they tend to be allocated to the highest-valued use as entrepreneurs and capitalists seek the highest economic rate of return on their assets. When politicians (or central planners) allocate resources, they seek the highest political return (e.g., votes and campaign contributions).
Additionally, public choice literature shows that collective choice (through government) leads to the overproduction of public goods and the expansion of "rent-seeking" activities....

The optimal size of government is the size that maximizes economic growth.....

The optimal (growth-maximizing) average rate for federal, state and local taxes combined is between 21.5 percent and 22.9 percent of GNP.

The optimal tax rates derived from this model are consistent with previous studies that conclude that an optimal size of government is 19 percent of GNP and that government spending of 20 percent of GNP maximizes productivity. All of these estimates imply that the economic growth rate and hence the level of GNP is far below what would have been achieved had the nation's total tax rate been kept at its 1949 level.....
Why Have Voters Allowed Such Private Wealth Destruction?

One might ask why citizens have allowed this destruction of private wealth through excessive taxation and why politicians have given up $11.6 trillion in real taxes since 1949. There are several explanations. First, and perhaps foremost, people generally are cognizant only of their actual earnings, not their potential earnings. They do not miss the lost 2.1 percent growth in real output because they never had it. Also, many are ignorant of the intimate link between taxation, incentives and economic efficiency. Moreover, because of the compulsory deduction of taxes from wages, many workers are unaware of their actual tax burden. Politicians have been ingenious in hiding taxes. Most people have no idea how much of their total income actually goes to taxes because the taxes are hidden
And as evidence that the government funded BBC takes its role as the propaganda arm of Big Government
very seriously and intends to make sure it keeps the public as ignorant of the intimate link between taxation, incentives and economic efficiency as possible see Redwood's column today.
Yesterday’s news broadcasts usually referred to the 0.2% increase in retail spending in March. I did not hear any BBC news broadcast mention the fact that public spending was 5.1% higher in 2010-11 than the previous year, though that too was announced yesterday.
The BBC is not only an enemy of our national wellbeing it is direct and powerful player on the political scene with undeniable party biases. Its continued overwhelming control of the mainstream media destroys democracy - BBC delenda est

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Thursday, April 21, 2011


  Al Fin, Brave New Future and New Energy and Fuel have both been reporting on cold fusion, now known as Low Energy Nuclear Reaction" (LENR) , which  is now not only laboeratory proven but they are currently stating to manyfacture commercial batteries.
There have been more claims of confirmation of the results in Sweden.

1. The industrial 1000 kW plant, a set of three hundred 4 kW reactors, now under construction in Athens, is expected to become operational in October 2011, according to Rossi. The cost of electricity from such plants, if widely used, is expected to be ten times lower than from our coal plants. Another desirable feature of the claimed reactor is that it “doesn’t produce radioactive waste".

2. Rossi says that about 30% of nickel was turned into copper, after 6 months of uninterrupted operation. At first glance this seems to agree with calculations based on simple assumptions.
 Cold fusion has been bedeviled by accusations of experiments being found to be unrepeatable (a polite way oof saying false). However while some laboratories have failed to rpeat them many others have managed and the body of evidence of results, worldwide, which cannot be explained in chemical terms is overwhelming. That, in turn, has meant patent ofices have refused to accept patents which in turn means anybody wanting to makemoney out of their work simply cannoot publicly give the details that would permit replication. Vicious circle and one that has delayed developmentby at least a decade. Now. 
What happened was Mr. Rossi and Professor Focardi with Dr. David Bianchini, and Dr. Giuseppe Levi of Bologna University had two guest observers. One guest observers was Hanno Essen, associate professor of theoretical physics at the Swedish Royal Institute of Technology, who is the chairman of the Swedish Skeptics Society and the other guest observer was Professor Sven Kullander of Uppsala University, who is also chairman of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences Energy Committee. One will think the Swedes take the Rossi Focardi Cold Fusion reactor seriously.
 Kullander and Essen were permitted to examine the setup, check for hidden power supplies, and then fill the reactor with hydrogen, calibrate the volume of water flow, monitor the temperature of the water flow in and out of the system, and observe the entire experiment.
The reactor contained 50 grams of nickel powder and .11 grams of hydrogen. In their report (a pdf file) they state, “We had free access to the heater electric supply, to the inlet water hose, to the outlet steam valve and water hose, and to the hydrogen gas feed pipe. The total weight of the device was estimated to be around 4 kg.”
The experiment’s results are an averaged constant production of 4.69 kW (4690 watts or about 47-100 watt light bubs) of power for almost six hours. The input was on average 330 watts, of which 30 watts was used by the electronics controlling the setup. This calculates to about fifteen times the energy produced by the device in comparison to the energy input.
Kullander and Essen have also ruled out that the energy could be coming from a chemical source. They stated, “Any chemical process for producing 25 kWh from any fuel in a 50 cm3 container can be ruled out. The only alternative explanation is that there is some kind of a nuclear process that gives rise to the measured energy production.” This is a noteworthy statement coming from a report written not only by professional scientists, but also by the Chairman of Sweden’s VoF.

To cap it all, Rossi provided Kullander and Essen a sample of his fresh nickel powder and a sample of nickel powder that had been in an active reactor for two and a half months. Elemental and isotopic analysis has been performed on the samples utilizing both X-ray Fluorescence and Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry. The reported result shows that the fresh nickel powder was almost totally pure nickel and the reactor used nickel powder contained 10% copper and 11% iron. The two copper isotopes detected were Cu63 and Cu65. Kullander has stated his understanding this qualifies as proof of nuclear reactions is taking place in the reactor.

Things are moving along. What’s new is the iron found. The missing is still the catalyst. What isn’t finished and of perhaps the greatest interest to experienced inventors and developers is the progress on the patent application. Let’s hope this sort of demonstration wins the co-operation of the patent examiners – that’s the next big step.
  A point I would like to make about this is that it is NOTas much of an unpredented breakthough as it seems. "10 times less than coal if widely used" is only similar to what I have suggested current nuclear plants could produce if  they were widely enough used to allow mass production.

    Independently we see the Shale gas revolution which will give us cheaper power. Tar sands hold potential reserves greater thanall the official oil reserves. Methane hydrates have energy orders of magnitude greater.  Also the possibility of using algae as an unlimited source of inexpensive oil.

   And when we get into space there is enough solar power to provide unlimited energy forever with almost no running costs.

    The politicians almost universally insist that "the era of cheap energy is over" and are using regulatory means to artificially push up prices and even create blackouts. We can see the way the eco-fascists are deperately trying to find some excuse, or none, to ban shale gas and Canadian tar oil, as they did with nuclear and GM foods/medicines. This is because The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."(Henry Louis Mencken)

    Lack of energy is not our problem. Our problem is to much government. The degree to which government parasitism is holding us down can hardly be overestimated but consider that, over the last 30 years China's 10% annual growth mean they have got 18 times better off while real incomes here have only marginally increased. Note that China is hardly an example of total lack of government parasitism, it is simply that it has moved in a liberal* direction, whereas we have done the opposite. We are more restrained by the state, often acting in the name of the eco-fascist movement the state is funding, than any medieval peasant was because the opportunities we are deprived of are far greater than existed then.

" `See what free men can do.' That was the inscription on the photo. By, the man who built it-Dick Rhutan! Who flew Voyager around the world on one tank of gas. That Voyager."

* By liberal I mean traditional liberal values, which revolve around human freedom, not the various sorts of  special interest groups, banners-of-things and eco-fascists who have itroduced an entirely new range of principles under the old name saying "principles change with time".

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011


   I have this letter in the Scotsman today 
Brian Monteith's article (18th April) pointing out that the SNP's call for the closure of 80% of our electric generating capacity by 2020 will inevitably cause blackouts, fuel poverty and the death of 10s of thousands of pensioners has stirred some response (letters 19th April).

It should have stirred more.

 There is a close relationship between electricity production and GNP so the SNP policy is to destroy 80% of our national wealth. By comparison all the other "issues" & promises of all the 5 "main" parties put together sink to the significance of discussing deckchair arranging on the Titanic. Not that Labour, Conservatives & LibDems have much grasp of reality - their more "moderate" policy is merely to destroy 58% of our electricity by 2020 - something they unanimously voted for in the world's most draconian law to prevent the "catastrophic global warming" we all saw last winter.

The only party to truly oppose this lunacy is UKIP, who are fully committed to allowing the building of as much inexpensive nuclear power as there are customers for and have denounced "catastrophic warming" for the fraud on the electorate it clearly is. Perhaps coincidentally they have been effectively banned from BBC coverage - since 82% of Scots get their news overwhelmingly from the BBC and the rest of the media judge themselves by that standard this is a degree of control Gaddafi might envy. The excuse for this censorship is that there are only 5 "main parties" despite the fact that UKIP got 4 times as many votes as the Greens at the last general election and polls show them now nudging the LibDems.

Mr Hegarty's letter denounces Monteith's case claiming that closing 80% of our electicity will not cause harm because "The actual intention is that renewable sources will produce the equivalent of 100 per cent of Scotland's annual electricity consumption by 2020".

The current 20% renewables consist of 10% hydro, which cannot be increased because all the good sites are taken, & 10% windmills, anything else being to small to count. So we are to believe windmills (which depend on £1 bn a year subsidy in Scotland) can be increased 900% over the next 9 years? Even if it could, wind varies terribly. Last December it sank as low as 0.2%. To keep the lights on then would require a 45,000% increase in windmills - by 2020.

This may be SNP policy (& to a lesser extent that of the LabConDems) but does anybody seriously suggest it is sensible? Not even Scottish Renewables, the government funded windmill lobby organisation, apparently who are on record as saying that windmills will not cause blackouts purely because "windfarms will not provide the baseload". Clearly ignorant of the new policy they assured us that "renewables" are much more expensive than our current power & "nobody is arguing that Scotland would not continue to have other forms of generation alongside a significantly expanded renewables sector" (letter 19th April). Well nobody
   It was a long letter so I can't complain about the bits edited out (in bold) though I liked both and I believe reinforce my points but I can see some might think I was going a bit OTT. Editing improved the paragraph layout. The first 3 paragraphs were written by me as one. Taking out "It should have stirred more" as a paragraph in its own right makes it hard hitting.

      This means I have now, over the years, had letters in the Scotsman at election times specifically supporting 3 parties - the LibDems for supporting growth; the SNP for promising to support corporation tax cuts & now UKIP for not wanting to put the lights out. I can only do a mea culpa for believing the first 2 promises at the time.

       Brian Monteiths article was on how and Labour can, against the trend, beat the SNP and why they should. It said
Fortunately for Labour, Alex Salmond's announcement last week that Scotland will be powered 100 per cent by renewables by 2020 is so potentially catastrophic that it has one more chance, probably its last chance, to regain momentum. It was noticeable that Ed Miliband jumped on this issue very quickly, suggesting Labour is clearly aware of Salmond's policy gaffe. But to attack it full frontal requires Labour to upset much of the climate change lobby that it has helped build up and the party may therefore recoil from doing so.

If it has the bottle, Labour has to make the point that renewable power generation, while worthwhile as a goal, is so inconsistent, so unreliable and so expensive that to rely solely on it must mean the deaths of many pensioners in Scotland. This may seem an extravagant claim, but it is a justifiable one and would set up an almighty public debate that would surely come down on Labour's side.

Just how is the SNP going to deliver 100 per cent renewable power? More wind turbines? Every wind turbine is heavily subsidised by higher prices on domestic electricity bills.

More windmills mean more subsidies and higher bills - causing greater fuel poverty that will leave old people dying.

Then there is the experience of our most recent winter where with prolonged freezing weather we found that the windmills just didn't work. On 20 December last year, when temperatures fell below minus 15C, peak demand was just over 60,000 megawatts across the UK. Yet, because there was virtually no wind, energy produced by all our wind turbines contributed a pathetic 52 megawatts.

Despite billions of pounds of investment and subsidies, our wind turbines were producing a feeble 2.43 per cent of their capacity - and little more than 0.2 per cent of the nation's electricity needs.

   Which is on the money and would apply to any party that wants to increase its credibility.

    By what is partly coincidence I joined UKIP last night. The Glasgow branch is considerably smaller than the total Glasgow LibDems, or at least than they were then which may not be the same thing. However while I was one of the youngest in my LibDem branch (OK it was some years ago) I am one of the oldest in UKIP and am confident that it has more members under the age of 50.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011


This, my latest is up on Brian Monteith's ThinkScotland website. Please put your comments there.:

The 5 Holyrood parties seem to be agreed on doing nothing to improve Scotland that would cost money. They are willing to spend lots on their respective pork barrelling (anybody who thinks otherwise name a single thing, for the common good any of them have pushed through). Suggestions for positive things will not even be discussed by any of them. We have an election coming up in which all coverage is limited to 5 parties who even pundits admit have barely a slip of paper between their policies.
So I am going to be less ambitious. These are 77 separate reforms which would cost nothing (well ok somewhere between the cost of a can of paint and some hours of civil service or Parliamentary time).
Some of these ideas are new, some are ones I have been proposing for years, some are variants where I have cut the cost to zero (usually the option that costs would still be the better one but clearly politicians don't work that way), some are from UKIP's manifesto (the only party which has even attempted to come up with anything original) and are marked as such.
It would be nice if Holyrood adopted any of them. It would even be nice if any MSP was thoughtful enough to be willing to give a reason why not, or any Scottish journalsit to ask.
1) Instead of paying for the Red Road flats to be demolished give them to their occupants, on condition they sign up to a good factoring agreement. Any unoccupied flats or where the occupants choose to be rehoused rather the ownership to be offered free to neighbours or sold at auction. These flats used to be Europe's highest & are still impressive. It would be interesting to see if private owners & private enterprise can run them more successfully than the Council or GHA. Require the same offer to be made for any other blocks of flats which GHA wish to demolish.

2) Paint a big line along the pavement between Glasgow Central & Queen St stations with the distance in metres written so that strangers know the way.

3) Immediately allow First the right to run a hovercraft across the Forth to Edinburgh - skip planning controls, environmental impact statements, inspections, long lunches discussing it etc. etc. (First first suggested this in 2006 and I supported them then. Still waiting)

4) Run a public competition for proposals to showcase technology projects costing under £1 million.

5) Invite tenders for the building of an arcology (a town enclosed as a single building) of 10,000 homes somewhere in the Highlands or Borders with a low population. Such an arcology not to be subject to any planning permission but must carry long term building insurance.

6) Pass a motion in Holyrood stating that we have a national goal that Scots should be at the cutting edge of scientific achievement and Scotland should, proportionately to our size, contribute to space development at least as much as any nation even Singapore.

7) Legislate as unenforceable any restrictions in insurance policies on car sharing (there is an incentive on any insurance company to limit its liability by preventing this but overall such sharing marginally reduces risk, as well as substantially reducing cost and only legislative action will be equally fair to all companies)

8) When jobseekers have their on the job training costs 100% paid for the "employer" still has to get his public liability insurance policy changed. Such changes are likely to cost at least £100, almost entirely through administrative costs. The government could amend their own PL policy to cover all such cases. I suggested this some years ago to a Holyrood committee

9) Declare Scottish Enterprise Zones - no tax cuts (though no rates increases on new buildings going up) just without the regulations. 10 square miles per year would have no "damaging" environmental effects and enormous positive economic ones

10) Allow the free market to build as many nuclear plants as there is a market for. Allowing the free market to decide such things without a government diktat is a radical new idea from a guy called Adam Smith

11) Allow people to build houses. 75% of the cost of housebuilding is regulatory. Unlike the south of England we have no shortage of land and no excuse when young people in Plockton have to move to the central belt because of a shortage of new housing.

12) Strategy of Technology by Possony, Pournelle and Kane should be required reading in Holyrood so that they might get some idea of how much national progress depends on supporting new technology.

13) Set up a Parliamentary Committee charged with actively reducing the burden of legislation on business, particularly small businesses and preparing at least one composite Bill annually removing such regulations

14) Extend the legal aid remit to individuals and small businesses seeking to register international patents and copyright I am not calling for the overall legal aid budget to be increased though I think that once the stimulus to innovation bore fruit we would see an increase in revenue which could, in part, be used for this purpose.

15) Require the First Minister to make an annual State of the Nation speech to Parliament in which he gives our growth rates, the UK's (averaging about 2.5%), the world average (5%) and the best (10%+) and explains why we are doing so badly (or boast why we are doing well should that ever happen)

16) Set a "bonfire of the quangos", as repeatedly promised, or at least prune a few of them

17) Fire the worst 10% of teachers. Our politicians vie with each other in boasting about lowering class sizes but in fact the evidence is that, below about 50, class size is of little importance whereas the ability of the teacher definitely is. Currently our education system is run as if the priority were to ensure the teaching unions have the maximum number of members rather than that pupils get the best education.

18) Prune the vast number of rules and regulations that prevent small companies bidding for government and local authority contracts. For example currently those without disability lifts, for 3 person companies, need not apply.

19) Allow people in prison or mental hospitals to have pets. The therapeutic and responsibility inducing effect of looking after pets is quite amazing.

20) The smoking ban was not introduced in prison but is maintained in mental hospitals. The former was done because they were afraid prisoners would riot whereas inmates are more helpless. This is a cruel and unusual punishment by the PC brigade for being quite literally "the most vulnerable in society" and an affront to human decency.

21) End almost all restrictions on GM plants used for foods and medicines. The "precautionary principle" here is just another name for Luddism. Millions of acres around the world are devoted to GM crops and nobody has yet proven any damage caused by them.

22) Release Scottish businesses and our economy from Brussels red tape UKIP

23) Require the direct election of all key officials in national and local government UKIP

24) no more wind-farms UK

25) Repeal the Climate Change (Scotland) Act, (which requires the destruction of 58% of our electricity supply over the next 9 years) UKIP & me

26) Abolish the Department of Climate Change. UKIP

27) End all subsidies to monstrous, climate-irrelevant, cost-ineffective wind-farms. (that is about £1 billion a year) UKIP

28) Support new nuclear power stations, particularly next to existing nuclear stations. (note "particularly" rather than "only". We could have up to 7 units on one site which would be 14 in Scotland - roughly 3 times our present power. However limiting it to those 2 sites give Ariva a monopoly over nuclear electricity here and would also mean greater than necessary hysteresis losses getting power to Peterhead. This shows they do understand how important this issue is while the very best of the feeble five, Labour and the Tories, are still dithering) UKIP

29) Spare taxpayers the huge bill for needless carbon capture and storage. UKIP

30) Spend no taxpayers’ money on the non-problem of man made climate change UKIP
31) Let pupils leave school early provided they are entering approved apprenticeships or training schemes. UKIP & the Conservatives

32) Give parents the right to choose the school they want their children to attend. UKIP

33) Scrap useless paperwork and enable teachers to do their jobs. UKIP

34) Cut NHS bureaucracy and waste, but make no cuts in front-line treatment. UKIP

35) Introduce Health Vouchers allowing patients to opt out of the NHS and use the vouchers towards the cost of private treatment. UKIP

36) Scrap the smoking ban as a needless restriction on freedom, giving owners of pubs and other buildings the freedom to set aside rooms for smokers if they want. UKIP

37) Or indeed abolish it in its entirety (me).

38) Abolish costly, useless Home Reports for property sellers in Scotland. UKIP

39) support airport links. It is a scandal that the Edinburgh main line passes the airport runway, but has no station. (just building a platform and linking path/road would have minimal costs though spending a few million for a better link could be justified too). UKIP

40) Stop subsidising other "renewables" too. me.

41) Legislate bread or some other staple food to contain added vitamin D. Vitamin D is caused by sunlight and is a vital hormone for human health. It is not just multiple sclerosis and rickets, though they are the extreme effects of its lack. Scotland, being one of the most northerly places in the world with a large population is a world leader in MS and has a very poor record on almost all health issues. Adding Vitamin D would do more to improve health than all these bans and probably more than any NHS reform. Adding vitamins would have a low price per unit, purely because of the vast number of units, and probably would add no more than 1p to a loaf (I am assuming government wouldn't pay for it).

42) Privatise water. The government currently subsidises it by about £150 million annually. Maybe Scots do really think this and our relatively poor water quality, is a cost worth paying for the pleasure of state ownership and it will not be accepted but the option should surely be discussed. To keep this revenue neutral put half of this into technology prizes (#43) and half into the fund for cutting business taxes (#60).

43) Extend charitable tax relief to allow relief on donations for technology prizes. A recent paper on the Royal Agricutural Society proved that even quite small prizes have a significant effect sufficient to make one behind the times businessman to complain "It is unfair because there will always be sure to be somebody trying to find out some improvement or other and there is no knowing where will be the end to it.” The power to do this is not listed as a reserve power and appears to be within Holyrood's legislative competence. The Scottish government is already doing this with the Saltire Prize for a "commercial sea turbine". I doubt that such a machine producing at truly commercial rates can be achieved and suspect the rules may be fiddled. This demonstrates both the strength and weakness of government running such schemes - they have the money but its uses may be determined for political rather than technological or economic reasons.

44) Audit Scotland to annually give its best estimate of the value to our economy of such technology prizes developed in the current year over the next 10 years or, once it has been running for 10 years, all value gained that year from all ideas stimulated by prizes. Legislation to be introduced to take 50% of that figure (i.e. roughly the total accruing to the taxman) and distribute it as extra tax relief on such technology prizes. This would be revenue neutral and if such technology prizes turned out to be ineffective would involve a zero payment.

45) Extend the Enterprise Zone concept, where planning controls, environmental impact statements, inspections, long lunches discussing it etc. etc. do not apply, to both ends of potential tunnels. Legislate that when such a tunnel is completed and only then, the owners will be entitled to a feu duty of £10,000 on the sale of any new build house. This costs zero if no entrepreneurs build suggested tunnels (Gourock/Dunoon.Rothesay, Loch Fine, Mull, Hebrides). They will never be built by Holyrood who insist that even a 3 km tunnel under the Firth would cost £6.6 billion. They could easily be built by somebody employing the Norwegian tunnelers who have criss crossed Norway at a cost of £4 million per km. At least they could if all that was required was cutting through the rock, which is why the Enterprise Zone concept should be used to cut through the far more expensive red tape.

46) End the regulating of Highland and Island airports by the same regulations as the major international airports. This would require negotiating with Westminster but if we can do it for silly stuff like air rifles we can do it for this. The regulatory cost of treating airfields that land 2 small aircraft a week like Heathrow artificially increases cost per passenger making flights to the islands more expensive than transatlantic ones.

47) The current subsidy system of H. and I. airports includes both 2/3rds of the running cost plus a bureaucratic system of ticket subsidies for individuals. The total cost is greater than a 100% subsidy of all landing costs. Changing it to this cheaper system would allow low cost airlines to operate at very low ticket costs and, by increasing numbers greatly improve tourist access to the Isles.

48) When tunnel connection is in process give one of the Isles, probably either Islay or Jura, the same legal status as the Isle of Man plus a development corporation constituted to promote an entrepreneurial and technological experimental community of tomorrow.

49) Cancel the Scottish governments Debt Arrangement quango which, as long ago as 2007 was acknowledged to be costing more to run than the total debts of all the people who had taken advantage of its "services". Despite that it is still going strong.

50) Legislate for all MSPs a bonus of 25% of their annual salary for each full 0.5% the Scottish economy grows above the UK one.

51) Legislate for all ministers a 50% bonus of their annual salary for each full 0.5% the Scottish economy grows above the UK one. Explanation - Scotland's economy has been growing about 1% lower than the UK's 2.5% long term average; If we managed to get up to the Chinese level of 10% each MSP would be taking home 4.75 times their current income i.e. £251,000 and ministers 8.5 times i.e. £790,000 totalling about £50 million; however if they managed that our economy would be growing by over £10,000 million annually, so we would be well in profit and they would have earned it. This is the most personal sort of Fiscal Responsibility I can imagine. Possibly they would earn nothing out of it.

52) Centralise type approval of house planning so that local councils cannot insist on putting in petty changes. Councils could retain control over what size of houses are allowed and colouring but any regulation which is supposed to be safety related is more properly centrally done, where there are more resources overall. This reform would allow mass production to play a larger part, hopefully including modular building techniques and as Henry Ford proved, mass production lowers costs.

53) Alternately abolish all nominally safety based regulations and merely require that new houses carry substantial insurance. This is what is don in France and does not appear to result in homes more jerry built than those by British councils, who apply these regulations.

54) As with the tunnel enterprise areas offer such an unregulated endpoint to anybody willing to build a High Voltage Direct Current electric cable to Iceland (such cables have far smaller energy losses than conventional cables and would make Iceland's electricity competitively available just in case windmills turn out to continue producing the 0.2% of our power they sometimes do.

55) Fire everybody in the Health and Safety Executive and related organisations. It is easy to prove that the effects of the reduction in economic performance kills about 1,000 times those saved. 21 per 100,00 die annually per lost per 1% of GNP.

56) Lets do the same for everybody in building planning departments, or at least cut them sufficiently that they only have time to control Green Belts, areas of scenic beauty and historic sites.

57) Change civil service rules so that people can be and are fired for laziness, incomptentness or doing something useless and officious.

58) Introduce a hiring ban for new public employees except where they can be demonstrated to provide a vital front line role, after all it was a Labour minister who said the civil service would work better with half as many people. Keep this until budget cut aims have been achieved and we have a smaller public sector than England.

59) Abolish 90% of SEPA for the same reason. SEPA have demonstrated not only a willingness to push false pollution scares but "scientific illiteracy" in the process.

60) Abolish Scottish Enterprise and put the £350 million saved into cutting business taxes. This was an SNP promise at the last election.

61) Ditto Historic Scotland who consider it their job not to maintain our heritage but merely to ensure nobody does anything with it.

62) Allow apparent medicines which have not yet completed testing to be sold, very clearly packed as such and without public liability. I am suggesting packaging much clearer than homeopathic or alternative "medicines" which are equally unproven. Let people choose for themselves.

63) Replace Scotland's Chief Science Advisor, a purely political appointment whose current holder, approved cross party, believes climate change will make days longer and has declined to give any advice on whether we can keep the lights on without nuclear. The new advisor to be chosen not by politicians for agreeing with them but from among the 5 Scottish scientists most commonly cited in papers. By this definition and it is a good one, Scotland's scientists are the world's 2nd best per capita after Switzerland. Looking at the lack of scientists among our publicly appointed "great and good" you wouldn't know it.

64) Don't spend £2.3/£2.4/£1.6 billion on building a new Forth crossing. The original one, which cost £19.5 million (£320 m in today's money) is fine. The cables are actually 10% stronger than was expected for this stage; are being dehumidified; can be replaced with far stronger materials available today. All that is needed is to put in a 5th, tidal, lane in the centre which can be done for £10 million and will increase capacity by 50%.

65) Get out of the government tram funding business. If you can't quit when you are ahead better to quit when you are £500 million behind.

66) Make a promise that if the economy grows faster than historically achieved the take of business taxes will not be allowed to grow but the excess will be used to cut business rates. This would be revenue neutral and tend to produce a virtuous circle of growth and lower taxes.

67) Declare that Scotland will welcome shale gas exploitation. This is a new technology which is sweeping the world and bids to match the oil and conventional gas industries. It is likely we have substantial reserves but unlikely companies will invest in finding it if they think that, under the influence of the anti-progress movement, we will not let them develop it.

68) Charge rates on unused land in built up areas based on the land value and at the same rate on unoccupied buildings. Make this revenue neutral by cutting business rates by the same amount in each council area. This is known as Land Value Tax. Whereas normal taxes habe a depressing effect on the economy, because they discourage producing things, nobody is producing more land and in fact such a tax incret.ases pressure against land hoarding. In particular it would have the most positive effect on cutting business rates in the most deprived areas where empty sites and buildings are most common.
69) Introduce a legal right for individuals or organisations to challenge any regualtion or law on the basis that cost benefit analysis shows it to be at least 4 times more expensive compared to the danger averted than regulations in similar industries or circumstances. If government does not change it to conform to the 4 times ratio within 1 year it will automatically be voided unless 2/3rds of Parliament vote to keep it. Unfortunately this could only apply to things not reserved to Westminster or Brussels,

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Monday, April 18, 2011

"BBC's commitment to due impartiality in election campaigns" scrutinised

This from the BBC (emphasis mine)
 Thanks for your correspondence regarding BBC output.

We understand that you feel we under-represent the smaller political parties throughout our coverage. I also note your concerns regarding our coverage of global warming.

The BBC has stringent Election Guidelines and our editors are obliged to follow them carefully. The Guidelines state that:

"There is no area of broadcasting where the BBC's commitment to due impartiality is more closely scrutinised than in reporting election campaigns." It says that journalists must "deliver to audiences impartial and independent reporting of the campaign, giving them fair coverage and rigorous scrutiny of the policies and campaigns of all parties."

The Election Guidelines do not however require that every opinion is reflected, or that each political party is mentioned, within every programme, report or interview during the election period. The aim is to achieve proportionate coverage for each party over an appropriate period and viewers and listeners to our flagship bulletins and news programmes can expect to hear from the various parties across the week.

We'd like to assure you that your feedback has been registered on our audience log. This is a daily report of audience feedback that's made available to many BBC staff, including members of the BBC Executive Board, programme makers, channel controllers and other senior managers. The audience logs are seen as important documents that can help shape decisions about future programming and content.

Thanks again for taking the time to contact us.

Kind Regards

Leigh Mallon

BBC Complaints

My reply

Dear Leigh Mallon,
                               Thank you. I am pleased to see the rigorous scrutiny you give your coverage as well as the dedication to "proportionate coverage". Having the figures to hand will make it easy to answer this query, which I am making under the FoI Act in much less that the 28 days (20 working days) maximum.

     Over the last 5 years how many appearances have there been on BBC 1 & 2 combined; on the popular Question Time programme; and on either Newsnight Scotland or "Brian's Big Debate" (whichever is easier for you) from official representatives of the Green party and, since the BNP receive twice as many votes at the last election and UKIP 4 times (in Westminster elections - they do far better in the PR European election). How many times have these parties' representatives appeared?

      Assuming that "proportionate" coverage has not been provided (for example in the event that the BNP have not been on Question Time twice as often as the dozens of times Greens have or indeed if the reverse were true) what action is the BBC currently taking to ensure the promised and legally required "proportionate coverage" is restored by immediately ensuring the BNP get, over the 10 year period we are in the centre of, twice as many guest shots and UKIP 4 times as many?

     On the particular issue of electoral coverage, I share your position that this is vital since an election cannot be-democratic if one or more parties are censored by the state broadcaster. For example I note that on the "Big Debate on the economy" (actually not a formal debate, but a series of soundbites since the BBC don't do real debates) last night the Greens were included but UKIP, who get 4 times their votes across Britain (Britain being the BBC's remit). I found this unfortunate since audience questions lent heavily on the fact that cutting the Tartan Tax would significantly improve our economic performance. It is to be regretted that the sole party committed to this policy, UKIP, was deliberately excluded. Therefore I must also ask you to confirm, as part of your overwhelming legal commitment to "proportionate coverage", particularly during elections, that UKIP will, over the election period, appear on 4 times as many of these "debates" as the Greens? Obviously we both agree that such proportionate coverage is vital.

      I would also be interested to know what steps the BBC take to ensure their interviewing of UKIP and the BNP will, taking the next 5 years as well as the previous 5, over all programming, match the obsequious and supportive questioning the Greens and indeed the major parties consistently get. For example I saw on one of presumably dozens of BNP appearances on Question Time that Mr Dimbleby repeatedly attacked Nick Griffin for quotations decades ago and had clearly prepped the other guests with such quotes. One of the other guests was Labour's Jack Straw whose early history was as a university student leader of the "broad left".I don't think anybody would think it possible to have reached such eminence without, in his youth, having made a lot of very silly remarks about overthrowing the government, revolution, class war, wiping out bloated capitalists and so on, at least as juvenile as anything Griffin ever said in his youth.  I therefore ask you to confirm exactly when we will get a matching programme in which 5 BBC guests gang up on Jack Straw to examine him on that record, to the embarrassment of the Labour party.

   On alleged Catastrophic Global Warming I note the BBC continue to be unable to name a single independent scientist who supports it and that continuing to censor overwhelmingly to promote this purely political and governmental fascistic fraud represents the very highest standard of honesty to which anybody at the BBC ever aspires.

    Orwell and the ministry of truth

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Sunday, April 17, 2011


  A bit of history I suspect Cameron and Obama are entirely ignorant of and Sarkozy may be.
 Libya has a history of being seen as an easy target for politicians looking for a short victorious war.

 The History of Libya as an Italian colony began in the 1910s and lasted until February 1947, when Italy officially lost all the colonies of the former Italian Empire

The Italian colonization of the Ottoman provinces of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica was not initially successful and it was not until the early 1930s that the Kingdom of Italy took full control of the area.[1]

On October 3, 1911 the Italians attacked Tripoli, claiming to be liberating the Ottoman Wilayats from Constantinopole's rule...

the Ottoman sultan ceded Libya to the Italians ... Tripoli was largely under Italian control by 1914, but both Cyrenaica and the Fezzan were home to rebellions led by the Senussi.

On 25 October 1920, the Italian government recognized Sheikh Sidi Idris as the hereditary head of the nomadic Senussi, with wide authority in Kufra and other oases, as Emir of Cyrenaica, a new title extended by the British at the close of World War I. The emir would eventually become King of the free Libyan state...

From 1922 to 1928, Italian forces waged punitive pacification campaign. Badoglio's successor in the field, Marshal Rodolfo Graziani, accepted the commission from Mussolini on the condition that he was allowed to crush Libyan resistance unencumbered by the restraints of either Italian or international law. ..

A barbed wire fence was built from the Mediterranean to the oasis of Al-Jaghbub to sever lines critical to the resistance. Soon afterwards, the colonial administration began the wholesale deportation of the people of the Jebel Akhdar to deny the rebels the support of the local population. The forced migration of more than 100,000 people ended in concentration camps

By 1934, Libya was fully pacified


So enforcing peace and democracy in Libya is certainly possible. But, assuming not all the locals appreciate it it could take 2 decades and concentration camps. The basic rules are that wars are easier to start than to end and that no battle plan survives contact with the enemy. We just don't know how these things will work out so while there are things worth fighting for it should not be done lightly and certainly not because a one sided media (I know "media" should be plural but if they speak with one voice they aren't) is reporting that one side is black and the other white.

This is a map, which I suspect shows where there were riots rather than where the rebels actually took over.

It shows the rebels in charge of the eastern provinces and Gaddafi of the southern and is now obviously in control of Tripoli and the western coast. This fits very well with the previous historic map with the east being the Cyrenaica province, the south being Fezzan and the western coast being Tripolitania. What is happening is clearly only partly, if at all, a rising for democracy. Partly it is the Sennussi against the others. Partly it is what happens when a country's birth rate produces an awful lot of teenage boys. Partly it is our al Quaeda friends from "the Balkans, in Afghanistan and in Iraq".

  The reason France, the driving force here, went for it is because they want to be regional hegemon in North Africa. This is the same reason for the Ivory Coast war about which I knew nothing apart from what we are meant to know until I read this fine article by Gerald Warner which shows that the"democratic" goodies "recognised" by the "international community" are at very best no better than the previous dictatorial democratically elected thug not supported by the French.

The reason Cameron went for it is because he saw the chance for a short victorious war against somebody to weak to fight back.

The reason Obama went for it is that - apart from a little action under NATO as "I am their leader I have to go where they want" - he didn't, neither does the rest of NATO.

The reason Russia's Medvedev didn't veto it is because he saw no reason to stop the fools making fools of themselves.

As regards the ethics of it I put this on European Referendum
If Megrahi were guilty Koussa, head of Libyan intelligence at the time, certainly was. If there was enough evidence to charge a fictional character (Hero on a Donkey the Serbian equivalent of Don Quixote) with war crimes in Kosovo on the basis of a western journalist late at night in a hotel bar, who made it quite clear he was after atrocity stories and not the truth, being wound up by a local then there is certainly enough evidence to have arrested Koussa.

Once again we see our judiciary, police, politicians & media are wholly and completely corrupt and neither guilt not innocence is of the slightest consequence.

And of course this is simply further proof that the regime they want to put in place, rather than being democratic, will consist of the lowest scum they can find. I suspect they will not be able to find scum quite as low as the pimps, drug dealers, Nazis and organleggers our loyal media called "democrats" in Kosovo but they will try.

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