The government have announced that since people are no longer willing to give as much money to charities voluntarily they should be forced to do so through the tax system. The beneficiaries look like they are going to be overwhelmingly the denizens of the fake charities sector so beloved of government, with our old friends the anti-civil liberties campaigners the NSPCC and Shelter right at the front of the queue.
I just watched last week's Question Time, which of course had a long section on the Carol Thatcher affair. Shami Chakrabarti, the head of the our premier civil rights organisation, Liberty, gave the most pathetic performance it's possible to imagine. She managed to mention freedom of speech not at all. Thatcher had used a bad word and she wasn't sure about the BBC's handling of it, but not a single solitary mention of freedom of speech.
With civil liberties campaigners like this to defend us, it's no wonder we've turned into a banana republic.
New Zealand's Hot Topic blog has an interesting post about alleged attempts to muzzle NASA's James Hansen, the man who started the whole global warming scare some twenty years ago.
You can see clearly just how effective this muzzling was. As soon as Bushchimphitler was elected back in 2000, Hansen's appearances in the news were cut back, and he was scarcely heard of again. He was probably kept incommunicado in some rat-infested hellhole.
Here's the evidence:
Muzzles aint what they used to be.
The Spectator blog wonders about George Osborn's idea to publish all government spending over £25,000 online and points to a site in the US state of Missouri which does just that.
It's a good idea, but you know what happen. The civil service will design a vastly over-complicated system that will be delivered years late and billions over-budget, will not do what anyone wants and will be impossible to use.
There's a better way. Most modern IT systems can publish reports direct to the web. All that needs to be done is to add a report-writing package (and maybe a data warehouse) accessible to the public onto the existing financial systems in each department.
Let's not overcomplicate things.
The BBC has been caught "spicing up" its news coverage again, this time editing one of the Lindsey oil refinery strikers' comments to make him appear racist. Coming so soon after the revelation that the corporation also edited Obama's inauguration speech to make it appear more supportive of the case for global warming, slice and dice journalism at the Beeb starts to look less like a bug and more like a feature.
A couple of days ago, I opined that there was change afoot in the world of climate science, and was taken to task by one of my commenters for saying so. However, Roger Pielke Jnr reckons that there is a full-scale collapse coming, although he thinks it's more in the area of climate policy than climatology per se. Still, it's interesting to get some outside confirmation that we are entering a new era for the funny world of climatology.
The political consensus surrounding climate policy is collapsing. If you are not aware of this fact you will be very soon. The collapse is not due to the cold winter in places you may live or see on the news. It is not due to years without an increase in global temperature. It is not due to the overturning of the scientific consensus on the role of human activity in the global climate system.
It is due to the fact that policy makers and their political advisors (some trained as scientists) can no longer avoid the reality that targets for stabilization such as 450 ppm (or even less realistic targets) are simply not achievable with the approach to climate change that has been at the focus of policy for over a decade. Policies that are obviously fictional and fantasy are frequently subject to a rapid collapse.
Alex Renton has deeply muddle-headed piece in the Graun today. His theme is food waste, but he simply doesn't know what he's talking about.
the British food economy is not healthy today and we've only begun to feel the first tremors of world food shortages. We import 52% of our food; the figure seems likely to rise since, as the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) figures state, 63% of our 300,000 farms are essentially not economically viable.
If they are not economically viable, it's because there's oversupply of food, so presumably there is no sign of Mr Renton's food shortages yet. If it does happen in the future, guess what will happen? That's right, food prices will go up and all those farms will be economic again. It's like magic isn't it?
We bring lamb and butter from the other side of the world and most of our bacon from Europe, not because it tastes better but because it is marginally cheaper.
And your problem with this is what exactly? We want to use fewer resources, yes?
A mixed salad illustrates the absurdity. We must have fresh salad all year, so we import 60% of it.
The thing about growing seasons is that we get a surplus at some times of year and a shortage at others. But we can overcome this problem by sending food from areas of plenty to areas of shortage. With this ingenious insight we discover that we can feed more people. A good thing, most would agree.
Processors and retailers throw away on average 40% of what they eventually sell, because of the problems in forecasting demand.
If you can come up with a way of predicting the future, we'd like to hear it.
Most of these statistics come from a fascinating exercise in dissecting the nation's rubbish bins, carried out by the Defra-funded Waste & Resources Action Programme (Wrap). It found that, in total, British households throw away 6.7m tonnes of food, at a value of £10bn, 30% of Britain's food wasted.
Yes, but everyone knows that study was a fiddle. What WRAP calls food, you and I would call waste - potato peelings, chicken carcasses and so on.
Wrap has got some commitments from retailers: extra advice on packets, rationalisation of sell-by dates and fewer buy one get one free offers.
What a fool! BOGOFs are specifically intended to deal with overstocks. All this will do is to increase the amount of food thrown away by supermarkets.
Tim Lang, professor of food policy at City University, is an adviser on food security and sustainability to government. He says that attitudes are changing fast from a time, quite recently, when politicians would privately ask if there was any need for farming in the UK at all and food policy was best described as "leave it to Tesco". "But we haven't got a coherent policy. Are we raising production or are we relying on world food markets? Which? Because we've got to get on with it."
Hmm. Central planning of the food supply chain being hinted at there. Now I'm worried. The result is usually starvation.
A posting so good I had to reproduce it in full:
Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 allows the police to stop and search people. In 2008:
- Number of people stopped nationwide by British Transport Police using s 44: 160,000
- Number of people stopped in London by the Metropolitan Police using s. 44: 200,000
- Number of people amongst the 360,000 stopped under s. 44 and found to have any terrorist material or links: 0
Via Conservative Home.
As if we needed any more evidence that the public sector is run for the benefit of its employees rather than of the people who pay for it, here is the latest proof:
While thousands of state schools received heavy criticism for closing due to transport disruption and fear of accidents on slippery playgrounds, almost all independent schools carried on, they said.
See that? State schools were closing by the thousand, but nearly the whole of the independent sector stayed open.
There's no argument. They must all be privatised.
There has been some speculation that the tide of opinion on global warming is turning. Here's one example: Even left now laughing at global warming.
And I've just come across another: Nature Climate Feedback, who I've roundly criticised in the past for failing to link to Climate Audit have quietly rearranged their blogroll, adding a link to McIntyre in the process. One really does wonder what was going through their heads when they did this - did they think that they were starting to look foolish by now acknowledging CA, especially now that McIntyre has another paper in press? Or is this the start of a rehabilitation of the sceptical community ahead of a general recognition that the whole AGW thing has been oversold.
Either way, the recognition is well-deserved, if a little tardy.
There is a petition which requires the attention of civil liberties supporters:
We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to to remind his government that parents must remain responsible in law for ensuring the welfare and education of their children and that the state should not seek to appropriate these responsibilities.
Last year, when the oil companies were making a killing on the back of a rising oil price and politicians and other assorted lefties were falling over themselves to demand windfall taxes of the oil majors and crucifixion of their executives, I pointed out that the whole thing was a storm in a teacup which was due to an accident of accounting rules.
British companies are required by law to state their profits using the historic cost convention. That means you measure the profits on the basis of what you sold something for, less what you paid for it. This is fine for many businesses, but for a company which is experiencing fluctuating raw material prices, the effects of this rule is to make the profits fluctuate wildly.
With all the criticism they took, the oil companies seem to have taken note. Instead of issuing media advisories for its quarterly results on a historic cost basis, BP has started used replacement cost instead. Of course their accounts will still have to be on a historic cost basis, because that's what the law demands, but the media don't look at those - they only cut and paste from the press releases and then only the bits that are written in big letters at the top. So the oil companies can probably steer journalists to the more meaningful replacement cost figures and we can do away with the whole media hysteria cycle that runs alongside the oil price cycle.