Sunday, 20 December 2009


'If the climate was a bank, the rich nations would have fixed it.'

Hugo Chavez, President of Venezuela

Tuesday, 15 December 2009


It's unfair that you pay for the NHS all your life, and are then denied care in your old age.

I support free care for older people - that's fair.

Monday, 14 December 2009


It's unfair that you have to pay more tax on the income you've earned than on unearned income.

The Green Party supports the abolition of national insurance, which is fair.

Sunday, 13 December 2009


It's unfair that only the better off can afford university.

Green Party policies on tuition fees and student grants are fair.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009


It's unfair that millions are unemployed while others can be required to work very long hours.

Green Party policy for a 35-hour week is fair.

Monday, 7 December 2009


This new theory, which I am publishing today, states that when interviewed in the media, given a free choice, people will always tend to reply 'absolutely' rather than 'yes'. (with apologies to A. Einstein)

I particularly like verses 8, 10 and 11 of Carol Ann Duffy's new version of the old Christmas song. In case you haven't heard them (and even if you have), here they are:

Eighth Day of Christmas

One milked money to mend her moat.
Two milked voters to float her boat.
Three milked Parliament to flip her flat.
Four milked Government to snip her cat.
Five milked the dead for close-up tears.
Six milked the tax-payer for years and years and years ...
Seven milked the system to Botox her brow.
Eight milked herself - the selfish cow.

Tenth Day of Christmas

Lords don't leap They sleep.

Eleventh Day of Christmas

We paid the bluddy piper fir Scotland's Royal Bank;
twa pipers each fir Fred and Phil, fir Finlay, Fraser, Frank.
Too big tae fail!
The wee dog laughed!
The dish ran awa' wi' the spoon ...
We paid the bluddy pipers, but we dinnae call the tune.

You won't find these verses on Nadine's blog.

Saturday, 5 December 2009


It's unfair that public money is wasted on botched privatisation schemes, and that hospitals and surgeries are treated like businesses rather than public services.

I support a fair deal for those needing health care. I oppose cuts, closures and privatisation. I want a programme of locally accountable services.

Thursday, 3 December 2009


It's unfair that the government bails out the bankers who got us into this mess, but then won't ensure those very bankers provide the necessary credit for families or for small and local business.

I want a fair deal based on community banks, credit unions and mutuals that can provide realistic loans for families and for small and local businesses in Mid-Bedfordshire.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009


It's commendable that President Obama considered the new US strategy for Afghanistan with great care and diligence. More than three months of cogitation, and ten meetings with top brass. A major improvement on the shoot-from-the-hip approach of Bush.

However, then it's downhill all the way. Sadly, these months of deliberations have not produced a credible strategy. This is not the sort of change we were led to believe would define Obama's presidency. It's a plan to escalate this futile war, the second longest war in America's history after Vietnam. After eight years of war, another 30,000 US forces, 500 more British , and others, to take the total of foreign troops to the level of those of the Soviet Union in their disastrous Afghan conflict.

For what purpose? To prop up a highly corrupt government. It will not make Britain's streets safer, or serve any humanitarian purpose. It is not an exit strategy, it's an escalation of war.

This pointless occupation of Afghanistan should end. All Nato forces should be withdrawn immediately.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009


An eminent group of UK scientists, and a retired general, have reported "it's a total absurdity that we should have 100 tonnes of separated plutonium sitting up at Sellafield in tin cans ... . There is no policy to deal with the deadly material, which was reclaimed from used nuclear fuel. It's the largest stockpile in the world, a potential target for terrorists."

Last September I was in the Lake District, and took time out to inspect the Sellafield visitor centre. It wasn't my first visit. Many years ago, when it was called Calder Hall, we were shown into the reactor control room, and stood on top of the nuclear reactor. Of course, now you get nowhere near. There's a shiny new facility, outside the perimeter security, which presents a sanitised clean view of the nuclear industry. What shocked me most was the emphasis everywhere on private enterprise, shareholders and profits.

There is no PLAN A to deal with the deadly plutonium, let alone a PLAN B. Meanwhile, our government wants to build more nuclear power stations, and upgrade our nuclear weapons, to produce yet more nuclear waste to add to the dustbin.

Monday, 30 November 2009


Tony Benn’s voluminous diaries are undoubtedly a valuable resource for informed comment on nuclear policies.

Benn was Labour Minister of Technology in 1966, Minister of Power in 1969, and Energy Minister from 1975 to 1979. Writing about the closure of the Dounreay nuclear plant in Scotland, Tony Benn’s diary on Friday 5 June 1998 recorded: ‘Nuclear power is finished and I’m glad I saw it; I saw it late, but I’m glad I saw it in time.’

With hindsight, we may add wryly ‘better late than never’ - as Benn’s erstwhile colleagues in the New Labour Government commit the UK to a new generation of nuclear power stations, and renewal of the Trident nuclear missile system. Tory policy is not significantly different.

The Green Party policy statements have long opposed nuclear power and nuclear weapons. Nuclear power to combat global climate change is a delusion. There are horrendous cost implications of more nuclear power – not least at public expense long after the private companies have taken their profits and vanished. There remains the unsolved problem of nuclear waste; the half-life of the highly radiotoxic plutonium - 239 fuel is 24,100 years: the risks of high burnup spent nuclear fuel; health dangers of radiation and the transport hazards of nuclear materials; the genetic and health risks of even low radiation doses.

Twinned with the nuclear power delusion is the parallel delusion of support for nuclear weapons as a rational and realistic basis for international security. The historic links between nuclear power and nuclear weapons date back to the first Magnox nuclear reactor opened at Calder Hall in 1956. It was heralded as the first civil nuclear power station, but had been developed from the atomic bomb programme, and its primary purpose was military: to produce material for more nuclear weapons.

Careful analysis of these nuclear delusions of power and security is central to formulating a green approach. Democratic accountability and access to information are key elements. They are early casualties in the nuclear story. It is fascinating, and shocking, to turn to again to Tony Benn’s diaries. On Monday 14 March 1977, Benn recorded: “John Hill (Chair of UK Atomic Energy Authority) came in to talk about Windscale. I asked ‘What are the real hazards there?’ and he told me something extraordinary. ‘Well, there’s activity everywhere you dig on that site. ….. Whenever we had a spill we just covered it up. …. In 1957 one of the reactors caught fire and we simply poured in 300,000 tons of water which went right through the plant and into the ground.’ ” Next year, on Friday 9 June 1978, after a visit to Windscale, Benn confided to his diary: ‘Nobody can truthfully say that this whole project can be handed over to future generations to look after safely when they’ve no idea whether future generations will be faced with invasion, earthquakes, floods …It is a tremendously risky thing to do, and the duration of the risk, 10,000 or 15,000 years, is enormous.’

We can be sure nuclear accidents are still happening, and news never reaches us via the media. The desperate promotion of nuclear power as a solution, or even partial solution, to the climate change crisis is driven opportunistically by the nuclear industry. It is unfortunate that some environmentalists have been seduced by their specious arguments. The timescale alone for a nuclear programme is far too long. Renewable energy sources are the only answer. Not the feeble hesitating measures so far, but a truly determined effort by government. Failure to support the Vestas workers is a defining demonstration of the absence of serious commitment to renewable energy by New Labour. Nuclear power stations are potentially highly dangerous centralized sources of energy in a game of power politics. Nuclear power is not carbon neutral. Nuclear weapons are useless against a security threat from terrorism. The use of nuclear weapons in any conceivable circumstances would be an insane act. There exists an agenda around nuclear weapons which is rooted in hypocrisy. We plan to extend our nuclear power programme, while denying some countries the option. We retain and enhance our nuclear weapons, which are deemed essential for our security, but not keeping our side of the non-proliferation agreement.

Friday, 6 November 2009


I used the Park and Ride into Bedford the other day, from near Kempston. It really is an excellent scheme, when there's no alternative to public transport for your whole journey.

However, our bus soon got stuck in a traffic queue. And it would be helpful if the service continued a bit later in the evening.

Thursday, 5 November 2009


My Greek mythology is rusty to say the least, but I recollect the Hydra was a dreadful, scary monster. When its head was cut off, in an attempt to kill the beast, two more heads immediately grew back, to replace the head that had been decapitated. And so on. Or was that the Gorgon?

Anyway, the financial institutions remind me of the Hydra.

I've caught several snippets on the radio in the last few days. First, apparently there is now a market trading technique called 'nano-dealing' or something. It involves buying stocks or commodities and then selling them in a split second, presumably by computer, making a large profit. Then there's a report that the financial whiz-kids have started slicing, dicing, repackaging and selling-on carbon trading deals, just like the sub-prime mortgages, so nobody can ever trace where they originated or what they actually contain. Another example involving the banks escapes me.

You might have thought these guys would have been chastened by the global financial crisis. Not a bit of it. I wonder how Hercules (or whoever) eventually subdued the Hydra?

* (Shakespeare, Henry V, Act 1)

Wednesday, 4 November 2009


My words here yesterday were even more prescient than I feared. This morning's dreadful news confirms that even as I wrote, another five UK soldiers had already been killed yesterday, and two Afghans.

The Afghan policy of the Green Party, which I strongly support, is clear.

We want an immediate withdrawal of all UK forces from Afghanistan. The withdrawal of all NATO forces from Afghanistan. We want a regional peace conference to be held as soon as possible, with the aim of establishing a new Afghan government which will have the support of all the Afghan people. There must be continued support from the EU and UN and other international bodies to support the rebuilding of Afghanistan and the provision of international aid. There must be protection of all women and minorities in Afghanistan and the upholding of human rights as an essential part of any peace agreement reached with the regional powers, the UN and the people of Afghanistan. Further, the issue of Afghan refugees in neighbouring states and elsewhere, and their long term settlement and humanitarian support, must be a central feature of any peace agreement.

How many more lives must be lost before this unwinnable war ends?

Tuesday, 3 November 2009


The 'election' of Hamid Karzai for another five years as president of Afghanistan is a tragic farce. This is what we used to call a puppet government. Lives of courageous British troops, Afghan civilians and many others will continue to be lost in this misguided and pointless conflict. There is no evidence whatever that Karzai is capable of even beginning to write the 'new chapter' called for by President Obama. British troops should be withdrawn immediately, and a regional peace conference convened.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009


Like many people, I'm convinced the banks haven't really got the message. They are just itching to get back to 'business as usual' - huge profits and fat bonuses, as soon as they reckon we've forgotten the plot. Happy to take wild risks, knowing Jo Public would have to bail them out. 'Communism for the rich', as a wag has called it. During the banking crisis we came perilously close to meltdown.

Now the Governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, confirms our suspicions. The bankers haven't got the message, neither has the government - a New Labour government. King said government support for the banks had been 'breathtaking' at close to £1 trillion.

Paraphrasing Churchill, the Governor continued: 'Never has so much money been owed by so few to so many. And, one might add, so far with little real reform.'

The bankers continue on their merry way, whistling all the way to the bank, occasionally turning round, grinning and putting two fingers up to Jo Public.

Saturday, 3 October 2009


Bedford can vote for change in the election for Mayor on Thursday 15 October.
Green Party candidate Eve Robinson-Morley offers voters a refreshing change from the tired old grey parties and an assorted ragbag of 'independents'.
Eve is also the only female candidate.
The Green Party stands for Fairness.
Fairness is worth fighting for .... and voting for

Thursday, 6 August 2009

VESTAS: Rally & March and National Day of Action

This Saturday 8 August there is a rally and march in support of the Vestas occupation, at the factory on the Isle of Wight.

Wednesday 12 August is a national day of action, called by the Vestas workers, for businesses, unions and individuals to show their support.
Labour MP Support for Vestas Workers

I have received a reply from Bedford MP Patrick Hall to my letter urging his support for an early day motion (EDM) tabled by John McDonnell, requesting Government support for the factory to save jobs.

Patrick Hall supports the EDM and has added his signature to it.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

The Futile War in Afghanistan

You can click the link below, from the Guardian today, to read a moving account of the Afghan war by an Afghan MP currently in Britain:

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Vestas: Labour MP's Must Act

If enough Labour MP's backed an 'early day motion' tabled by Labour MP John McDonnell, the Government could be persuaded to keep the Vestas wind turbine factory open. Taking the factory into public ownership is the best option.

I have written to the two Labour MP's in Bedfordshire - Kelvin Hopkins (Luton North) and Patrick Hall (Bedford) - asking for their support for John McDonnell's motion.

Meanwhile, the workers' occupation of the factory continues, despite problems with food supplies.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Workers' Occupation of Vestas Wind Turbine Factory
The transport union RMT has pledged full support for the workers occupying the Vestas factory on the Isle of Wight. General Secretary Bob Crow is making a solidarity visit to the occupation tomorrow (Thursday) evening.
The occupation is a crucial stand for a Green New Deal against a crazy decision by greedy bosses and incompetent politicians. This factory is the only unit in England manufacturing wind turbines. The Dutch company owning the factory want to close it with the loss of 625 jobs.
The Government's feeble excuse is that the plant made blades for the US market, which were not the right specification for UK wind farms.
This is an acid test of the Government's commitment to green and renewable energy. If they are remotely serious about tackling climate change, they should take this factory into public ownership and protect the jobs.
New Labour can afford the Afghan war, the banks' bail-out, renewal of Trident missile system, new nuclear power stations and MP's expenses scandal. Unless they stop this closure the New Labour climate change strategy will be exposed as a total sham.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Rail Back in Public Ownership

The East Coast mainline rail service is to be taken back from National Express and into public control and accountability. It's an excellent move, and is in accord with the policy of the Green Party.

Privatisation has been a disaster: Private companies able to keep profits and expect the taxpayer to fund their losses.

It turns out the National Express had set up an 'arms length' stand-alone company called NXEC to run the railway. Why? So they could maximise their profits but then ditch the business if times got tough.

National Express has only been running the railway for two years. What is happening to its Chief Executive, Richard Bowker? Well, he's leaving to become boss of Union Railway, in the Unites Arab Emirates ..........

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

SOAS Cleaners at Yarl's Wood

Marina Silva and Rosa dePerez were picked up in a brutal immigration raid on 12 June at the School of African & Oriental Studies (SOAS) in London. They both worked as cleaners, along with other colleagues who were deported. Marina and Rosa are in detention at Yarl' s Wood Immigration Removal Centre at Clapham.

Marina is 63. She has applied for asylum following the killing of her husband and threats to her own life. The campaign for the Home Office to grant leave to remain for both Marina and Rosa is supported by UNISON and UCU (Universities and Colleges Union). As a UCU member it is a campaign that I fully support.

The Future of Middle Schools

My own view on Middle Schools is that they should be scrapped. The present three tier system should change to two tiers, ending what for many pupils is a disruptive break at age 13. The educational and social arguments are well known, and the changeover ought to have been made many years ago. The council should give a clear lead and present to parents the various options for making the change.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Doctors Condemn 'Commercial' NHS

The BMA chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum has said that moves to create polyclinics and PFI schemes, which use private money to build hospitals, are draining the health service of resources and fragmenting care, the BBC News reports.

This was a Labour government in the good times. As the recession continues we face a bleak future of cuts in public services. Nobody believes that following the General Election, a Conservative or a Labour goverment would do anything other than continue the policies that are slowly but surely destroying the NHS.

Monday, 30 March 2009

We Won't Pay For Their Crisis

The words on a banner at Saturday's London March before the 'G20' meeting this week.
But the reality is that we will pay, if they have their way.
That is, the poor around the world will pay for capitalism's crisis.

Already, in the thick of the crisis, they are busy planning for business as usual.
Minister's Husband Bends the Rules

The Home Secretary claimed her husband's 'adult' movies on MP's expenses. When she discovered the 'error', she paid back the cash.

A small sum of money. But a little incident that neatly sums up New Labour.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Another Minister Bends the Rules

After the Home Secretary's creative efforts with her allowances, now the Employment Minister Tony McNulty has been caught up to tricks.

The simple fact is this New Labour government has no principles. Both at an individual ministerial level, and as a government. New Labour has never had any moral high ground. The entire banking crisis in this country was allowed to happen by a government without any moral compass. Everyone except the government could seek the credit bubble was unsustainable. When the General Election comes sometime in the next year or so, New Labour will pay a heavy price.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Fred's Pension: 3

It's been getting even better for Fred.
Things are looking up.

It transpires Fred the Shred has already taken a tax-free lump sum of £2.7m as an advance on his £16.9m pension pile. Yes, that's right : tax-free.

And - cheek - the Shred has kindly offered to pay back the £2.7m , if the Tax Man will only promise not to ask for the tax still due.

His annual pension has already been revised upwards to £703,000 per year, from the £650,000 - odd we were first told.

Meanwhile the pathetic Lord Myners says it wasn't my fault.

Pigs at the trough - it's not a pleasant sight.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Councillors' Remuneration

As Bedfordshire County Council heads into oblivion, the new Central Bedfordshire Unitary Authority prepares to take over. It will supplant Mid Bedfordshire and South Bedfordshire District Councils.
It seems that the councillors on the new authority, who will be elected in June, will come out of this shake-up quite well. Basically, they're getting a pay hike.
But one of the current Mid Bedfordshire councillors, Ken Lynch, is taking a stand. He says he is planning to donate his extra remuneration to a charity. Councillor Lynch was elected as an Independent councillor, but he has joined the Green Party, and will contest his seat as a Green Party candidate.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Living in Financial Armageddon

Today the Bank of England reduced interest rates to 0.5 % and introduced 'quantitative easing'.
Outside the Bank, Ian Dixon held a placard for the NSPU, the National Savers and Pensioners Union. He was made redundant last December. He said ' There's a lot of apathy now in this country. We're living in financial Armageddon, but people just seem to be accepting it.'

Exactly so.

Politicians and media all have the same message: get back to business as usual, as soon as possible. On offer is a bit of tinkering with better financial regulation, trimming bonuses for a while till we have forgotten, a bit of sticking plaster here and there; bailing out banks with public funds for a couple of years maybe, till they can be returned to the greedy fists of the banksters. And the politicians aren't to blame: it's a 'global' problem, stupid.

Truly, the wolves have an easy prey.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Fred's Pension: Part 2

The Prime Minister, having asked Fred, politely, please may we have some of your pension back, and having got 'no' for an answer, has now said that nevertheless, Fred will not be allowed to keep his pension, and he shouldn't count on it.

We wait to see how this will be achieved.

Meanwhile, Lord Myners, who let Fred get away with it in the first place, is still in his job.

Friday, 27 February 2009

Who is Running our Banks?

Well .... it's supposed to be UK Financial Investments.

Who are the members of UK Financial Investments?
How are they elected?
To whom are they accountable?
What is their remit?

The fact is that the New Labour government knows and cares nothing about public ownership. The nationalisation (note the choice of language) of some banks is a temporary fix, with no real direction, until the banks can be handed back to the private sector at a knock-down price.

It's all part of getting back to 'business as usual' as soon as decently possible.

How different it could and should be.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Fred's Pension

Sir Fred Goodwin ('Fred the Shred'), former chair of RBoS, has retired at 50 with a pension of £650,000 per year, for life.

I'll write that again: a pension of £650,000 per year, for life.

The Prime Minister has publicly asked Fred to give some of it back, please.

I'm sure Fred will oblige.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Too Little, Too Late

Northern Rock's new mortgage funds, and more sensible lending policy, are too little, too late.

The basic problem seems to be New Labour's inability to grasp the opportunities opened up by the partial public ownership of some of the banks. New Labour doesn't know how to handle public ownership. It's an alien concept to Gordon Brown and his ministers. The notion of public ownership was ditched long ago by New Labour, sometime around 1991, I would guess.

Full public ownership of the banks is required, run on properly accountable lines, not just for as short a time as possible before handing them back at a knock-down price to the privateers so they can resume business as usual.

Public ownership doesn't mean 'micro-management' of the banking businesses by ministers. That's a scare tactic. It does mean transparency, effective monitoring and regulation, public accountability. It means banks doing a proper job for the country. No bonuses.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Running With the Hare, Hunting With the Hounds

Ruth Lea used to be a fairly regular panellist on David Dimbleby's Question Time. She would usually put the employers' view, often in a no-nonsense, hard nosed, right wing way.

Then last week she materialised on Newsnight. Paxman was conducting a 'Factory Floor' programme from Birmingham on the economic and banking crisis. There was a crowd of workers, and others, with Ruth Lea sitting there in the front row, as large as life. I decided to record the show for reference.

Ruth Lea made a couple of contributions. The screen caption said that she was from Arbuthnot Banking Group. I imagined she might be a bit contrite and apologetic, saying she was 'sorry' on behalf of bankers, the way bankers do.

Not a bit of it. With no sense of irony, she attacked the government for not making sure the banks released credit funds for small businesses. Well, of course they should. I began to wonder whether Arbuthnot Banking Group might make a start on this, and show how it's done. And Ruth Lea might explain this to the audience.

Not a chance.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

The Banksters

The four top ex-executives from RBS and HBOS looked like cornered rats when they made their appearance before the Commons Finance Committee yesterday. One of the MPs asked if they had taken any legal advice about criminal negligence. 'No' was the reply.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Tactical Retreat

O & H Properties Limited have pulled their Marston Vale Eco - Town out of the NuLab scheme. It is of course just a cunning ploy, a tactical retreat. They'll be back, next time trying to pick their way through the local planning route.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Biogas Could Heat Homes

A new report by National Grid, which runs Britain's gas pipelines, says green biogas piped directly to heat homes is more efficient than using the gas to generate electricity.

The biogas is produced by anaerobic digestion using microbes, or by superheating the waste. Both processs are less polluting than incineration.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Labour on the Ropes

When the banking and financial crisis began to take off last Autumn, for a while the Prime Minister seemed to have a new spring in his step, a safe pair of hands, the person most suited to handle the crisis.

As the months have passed, and the crisis has grown ever deeper and more intractable, Gordon Brown has increasingly begun to look and sound like a defeated man. It has become more and more difficult for him to pass all the blame on to 'global problems'.

In an interview with Gordon Brown today, Jon Sopel asked him twice 'where were you when the banks were pushing 120% mortgages, and credit card debt was ballooning?'
Mr Brown didn't have an effective answer. It's looking increasingly terminal for this Labour Government.

Saturday, 31 January 2009

Saving Energy Needs Deeds Not Words

Philip Sellwood, Chief Executive of the Energy Saving Trust, says that local authorities need more funds to ensure energy saving is happening.

He alleges that existing building regulations are not being implemented. Research shows that up to 30% of properties being built would fail existing regulations.

Another area where deeds are not matching words is 'smart meters'. He says it could be as long as 5 to 10 years before we see any tangible change in the number of smart meters in homes. Other countries have shown that smart meters can cut energy consumption by up to 10%.

Friday, 30 January 2009

Green Euro MPs Demand a Refund

Green Party MEPs Caroline Lucas (South East England) and Jean Lambert (London) delivered a letter to the Israeli Embassy in London at 2pm today. They are asking Israel for a full refund of European Union aid given to Gaza over the past 10 years. The aid was used for hospitals, schools and to provide better sanitation and access to health care in Gaza. It totals 53M euros.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Meddling with the Oceans?

A report in the science journal Nature describes experiments to add iron to oceans, in order to boost plankton which capture carbon dioxide, and store the carbon at the bottom of the ocean when they die.

The idea is to use this system as a form of 'artificial eco-engineering' to help curb climate change.
However, small-scale scientific experiments to research these mechanisms is one thing, using the technique wholesale to change the climate is something else altogether. GM crops and 'a step too far' spring to mind. The natural eco-system and bio-diversity are complex and delicately balanced, having evolved over countless aeons. A bull-in-a-china-shop approach is unwise, to say the least.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

No Glitzy Parties..... this year

If you ever wondered what the Bankers were up to while the Credit Bubble was inflating, this BBC report explains ....

Bob Diamond, president of Barclays Bank and head of its investment banking arm, has become the latest banker to decide not to go to the World Economic Forum.

The World Economic Forum, held at the Swiss ski resort of Davos is an annual event attended by politicians and business leaders.

It has gained a reputation for its glitzy parties.

Other Chief Executives who decided against attending at the last minute include Citigroup, Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs .

"Banking officials have to be concerned with appearances more than ever," said Howard Rubenstein, president of Rubenstein Associates. "They should avoid anything that appears super fancy or super rich, or thumbing their noses at taxpayers during a time of austerity."

Never mind. They will soon get back to business as usual, when they think we aren't looking again.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Forward to the Past

The Prime Minister would like us to:

"view the threats and challenges we face today as the difficult birth-pangs of a new global order - and our task now as nothing less than making the transition through a new internationalism to the benefits of an expanding global society"

So, think of your redundancy, or the loss of your home, as a difficult birth-pang.
Mr Brown, who presided as much as anyone over the Big Credit Bubble that got us in this fine mess, sees the solution as an 'expanding global society' - that is, another Big Credit Bubble.

Monday, 26 January 2009

More Antarctic Warming Data

Another scientific report, published in Nature, gives further evidence that Antarctica is warming. Satellite and weather station data give a warming of 0.6 degrees C over the past 50 years.

The science team said the warming was probably due to both anthropogenic (human-induced) effects and natural climatic cycles.

Meanwhile, a British Antarctic Survey team reports that a huge section of ice, the Wilkins Shelf, is about to break free.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Robert Burns: Born 250 Years Ago

Tonight is Burn's Night, celebrating the birth of the poet 250 years ago today:

Then let us pray that come it may -
As come it will, for a' that -
That sense and worth. o'er a' the earth
Shall bear the gree, an' a' that;
For a' that, an' a' that,
It's comin yet for a' that,
That man to man the world o'er,
Shall brothers be for a' that.

For those like myself not versed in the dialect, 'bear the gree' means 'be victorious'.
Global Warming Killing American Trees

A new report in Science journal suggests trees in western US are dying due to climate change:

The scientists examined 59,000 trees more than 200 years old. The mortality rate was found to have doubled since 1955. Factors like insect attacks and air pollution were ruled out. Climate warming was the dominant factor. Over a 30 year period from the 1970's, mean temperatures in western US had increased around 0.4 degrees C per decade. The team also believe that a feedback loop could develop, and the forests are vulnerable to sudden, more extensive dieback.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Bird Numbers Falling in Wales

This weekend RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch is recording the nation's garden birds.
A report last Wednesday by RSPB Cymru's annual survey showed a decline in bird numbers in Wales.

Several species continue to decline, including curlews, golden plovers, starlings and yellowhammers. Some species - house sparrow, carrion crow, house martin, stonechat and the Dartford warbler however have increased. But the decline of the curlew and golden plover has been 80 - 90 % since 1993 and 1982 respectively.

So the overall picture in Wales is mixed, but the key finding is a continuing fall in total numbers of birds. This decline may be an effect of climate change.

Dr Sian Whitehead of the Countryside Council for Wales says: "Climate change is already impacting our bird life in Wales - causing changes in habitats and loss of food supplies for some species, while other, such as the Dartford warbler, are already benefiting."