Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Post below from Angry Harry. His comparison with British pornography law is interesting:

Muslim Cleric Causes Uproar Over Women's Clothing: Australia's most senior Muslim cleric has prompted an uproar by saying that some women are attracting sexual assault by the way they dress.

Of course, this uproar was caused by various women's groups who think that women should bear no responsibility for what they do. Well, in my view, Sheikh Taj el-Din al-Hilali is correct in what he says - at least to some extent. Indeed, only recently, I wrote the following on my Your Emails page to a woman who seemed to think that women should be able to dress as they please without needing to take into account how others might respond.

"... if women behave stupidly, then they deserve less sympathy should something untoward happen. And if, for example, they wander about the place showing off all their bits then they should not be too surprised to find that some mentally dysfunctional male might respond to them. And the fact that women know that such unhappy events are more likely to occur if they are sexually provocative then the fact that they carry on regardless suggests that they are not very concerned about such events. That is the message that they are sending out.

As such, the law should reflect this lesser concern - this message - when deciding what level of negative impact any assault might have had, AND when deciding any punishment.

... Many women, however, seem to wish to take no responsibility for their behaviours. They seem to think that they should be able to flaunt their sexuality all over the place - in order to incite men - and then they think that they have the right to claim that they are victims when some men respond to them in a manner which is absolutely consistent with the message that they, themselves, have been sending out.

In my view, women who set out to entice men sexually bear more responsibility for sexual assaults against them than do women who do not set out to entice men sexually. And this should be reflected in the law.

... Are women such sluts that they think that they are entitled to foist their sexuality on to every passing member of the public? Are women so mind-boggling stupid that they cannot see that flagrantly enticing men sexually might bring about consequences? What makes women think that they have the right to overtly sexually stimulate men who happen to be in the vicinity whereas if men did a similar thing in response - perhaps with their hands - they could be prosecuted?

When women stick out their sexual organs uninvited into men's vision then this is not much different from men sticking out their hands uninvited for a grope. After all, in both cases they are merely trying to elicit a sexual response in the other party in the best way that they know how.

... Furthermore, we all have to accept that in order to safeguard our liberties, we have to tolerate many dysfunctional and/or unstable beings in our society, as well as those who are temporarily 'unbalanced' - for one reason or another. The alternative, in practice, is truly horrible. And, of course, some 20% of males have very low IQs. As such, I think that women are - as seems typical these days - being incredibly selfish if they believe that they are entitled to swirl up the passions of whomsoever they wish and then escape all responsibility for any negative consequences that might arise from ending up with the wrong kind of attention.

In a nutshell: People who go out of their way to provoke "an attack" are less deserving - should an attack materialise - than those who do not.

Most people would agree with this. But western women see themselves as so superior that they think they should be above such things. And they think that they should be able to provoke men - all men - as much as they like - and then take no responsibility! (And this is true not just in the area of sex. It is true in many other areas.) 'Ollocks, I say. Their own behaviour must be taken into account. And, take it from me, it soon will be!

And I stand by that view! I think I'll become a Muslim. And, while on this particular subject, I wish to make an interesting point!

Here, in the UK, we are soon going to outlaw certain types of pornography because some sex-offenders have claimed that "pornography made me do it". In other words, the government reckons that men can be 'enticed' into doing bad things by looking at pictures. Well, surely, if lofty people can accept the notion that men can be 'enticed' by pictures, then they should also accept the notion that men can be enticed by 'reality'!

And, if this is so, then women - who bring about their own reality - and who thrust it upon others - must also often be viewed as responsible for enticing men in much the same way that pornography allegedly does. So, how is it that women can escape all responsibility for enticing men, whereas pornography and pornographers cannot?

Well, of course, the answer is obvious. Women are nowadays held to be responsible for almost nothing that they do; not even for those situations in which they choose to place themselves. They are not held fully responsible when it comes to choosing to bear offspring, when it comes to their work choices, when it comes to whom they have sex with - especially when they are drunk - when it comes to child abuse, and even when it comes to murder.

And now we are simply being indoctrinated with the view that pornography can entice men to do bad things, but women, themselves, cannot. What hokum, eh? What lies!

Notice also that misleading women - especially younger women - into believing that their dress has no effect on the likelihood of being sexually-assaulted will simply lead to more women enticing more sexual assaults. In other words, more women will be hurt.

But, despite what they might say, most women do not actually care about this. So long as they can say and do as they damn well please, they do not actually care how many other women might be assaulted as a result.


Secret plans for a multi-billion-pound package of stealth taxes on fuel, cars, air travel and consumer goods have been drawn up by the Government to combat global warming. The proposals, leaked to The Mail on Sunday, show that the Government is considering introducing a raft of hard-hitting 'eco-taxes' that will have a devastating effect on the cost of living. Families with big cars could end up paying more than 1,000 pounds a year extra in tax. And nearly every household in Britain will be hit in the pocket.

Most controversial of all, the documents reveal the Government is planning to grab billions of pounds of extra revenue from motorists - without telling them. It is considering introducing a special mechanism so that whenever oil prices go down, the Government would get the cash in extra fuel tax - not the motorist. A leaked letter from Environment Secretary David Miliband to Chancellor Gordon Brown says the advantage of this is that the Government would gain billions of pounds 'without individual announcements on fuel-duty rises needing to be made'. The Government was immediately accused by the Conservatives of trying to introduce more 'stealth taxes' and failing to be honest with voters about the consequences of dealing with climate change.

The leak comes 24 hours before Tony Blair launches a major report warning that floods and other natural disasters caused by global warming will spark an economic catastrophe worse than the 1929 Wall Street Crash. But the report, by economist Sir Nicholas Stern, does not reveal what the Government plans to do about it. But a leaked letter written from Mr Miliband to Mr Brown on October 18 and obtained by The Mail on Sunday spells out the grim reality: wide-ranging tax rises that will have a dramatic impact on family incomes.

Mr Miliband calls for tough measures to combat 'car use and ownership' with a 'substantial increase' in road tax, which currently costs a maximum of 210 pounds a year. Mr Miliband says road tax should copy the 'success' of companycar taxes which forced people to switch to smaller vehicles with annual levies of up to 5,000 pounds. He also suggests a 'Treasury mechanism' allowing the Government to benefit from any fall in oil prices and reintroducing the 'fuel-duty escalator', which put up the duty on petrol by five per cent over inflation until Mr Brown ordered a freeze in 1999. Mr Miliband calls for a new 'pay-per-mile pollution tax' on motorists. And he urges VAT on air travel to EU destinations and new taxes on inefficient washing machines and light bulbs.

He also backs fresh laws to let town halls impose a 'rubbish tax' on households by using 'spies' placed in dustbins to weigh non-recyclable refuse. The letter says: 'Differential charging for waste at household level can have a significant role to play and local authorities should be given the powers to do so.' Mr Miliband also called for landfill tax - paid by businesses and local councils that bury rubbish - to be increased from 21 pounds a ton to 75. But one environmental expert said this could lead to more flytipping unless it is properly policed.

The letter to Mr Brown, marked ' Restricted', demands urgent and radical action in next month's public-spending review and next year's Budget. Changing people's behaviour can be achieved only by 'market forces and price signals', it says, adding: ' Marketbased instruments, including taxes, need to play a substantial role. As our understandings of climate change increases, it is clear more needs to be done.' The Government must 'increase the pace of existing tax measures, broaden them into sectors where incentives to cut carbon emissions are weak and identify new instruments to drive progress in tackling greenhouse gas'.

An aide to Mr Miliband said last night: 'We don't comment on leaked documents. These are ideas, not a package of measures.' An ally of Mr Brown added: 'The Chancellor does not approve of conducting Government business on the basis of leaks.'

Tory environment spokesman Peter Ainsworth said: 'No one is more committed to tackling climate change than the Conservatives. But if the Government wants to deal with it successfully, it must do so in an upfront way instead of bringing in stealth taxes by the back door. As with everything this Government does, the devil is in the detail. If motorists and consumers think all the Government wants to do is to slap taxes on everything, they may respond negatively. 'Tony Blair's Government has sat on its hands for ten years. Tackling the enormous challenge of climate change would have been much easier if they hadn't left it so late.'

Professor Julian Morris, environmental economist at Birmingham University and director of the International Policy Network, a free-market think-tank, called the new taxes 'underhand' and accused the Government of 'nannying'.



British business is this weekend fighting off calls for a raft of new green taxes that it fears will follow the publication of an influential government report tomorrow. The Stern Review is expected to warn that failure to address climate change could slash global economic growth by up to 20 per cent a year - a controversial view that will turn conventional thinking on climate change on its head. Businesses are worried that the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, will use the report by Sir Nicholas Stern, the respected economist, as an excuse to introduce a range of new anti-business pollution taxes.

David Frost, the director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: "We are very concerned that business is going to be made to pick up the tab for solving the world's environmental problems. "The fact is that families produce a lot of CO2 as well. It's vital the Government resists the temptation to introduce more taxes and regulations." Stephen Alambritis of the Federation of Small Businesses said: "There seems to be an all-party consensus that something needs to be done about the environment. We fear business may be thought of as a soft target. In reality, a lot of the increase in CO2 emissions is down to domestic use and greater use of transport. But it's consumers who vote - not businesses."

The Chancellor has a range of possible green taxes at his disposal. Options include raising fuel duty or increasing taxation on air travel. Nick Goulding of the Forum of Private Business said it was vital that any new regulations inspired by the report were not rushed through. "Business already pays too much tax," he said. "If new taxes are increased then the Government must slash other business taxes, ideally National Insurance contributions. If not, the economy will suffer."

Many businesses have already taken steps to improve their energy efficiency because of soaring fuel prices over the past two years. The BCC said 52.7 per cent of its members in a recent poll considered themselves "energy efficient", while a further 31.1 per cent were considering become more so. However, a hard core of about 20 per cent said it was too costly for them to consider becoming more energy efficient. The lobby groups maintain that the Government should do more to encourage businesses to go green.

The Forum of Private Business wants to see bigger tax breaks for firms that buy environmentally friendly machinery. Meanwhile, the BCC wants to see the Government beef up the Carbon Trust, the agency that works with businesses to lower carbon emissions.

The report by Stern stretches to 700 pages. An official close to the review said he would call for a dramatic boost in research and development spending on green energy and technology by government and businesses. Stern will say that global R&D spending by government and business will have to double from $10bn (œ5bn) to $20bn over the next five to ten years. "The report itself will not outline specific tax policies," said an official. "It will point out that becoming more energy efficient is also an opportunity to boost our economies."



Almost every day produces another doom-filled warning about global warming: a report tomorrow predicts a worldwide recession as a result of climate change. But, as Ross Clark reports, where there is anxiety, there's also business opportunity... and taxes, of course

Tomorrow, when Sir Nicholas Stern, the head of the Government's Economic Service, publishes his 700-page report claiming that global warming could shrink the world economy by 20 per cent, Ru Hartwell will have some reason to feel optimistic. He has just taken out a 30,000 pound mortgage on his home in Tregaron, west Wales, in order to set up a business, treeflights.com, which helps airline passengers assuage their consciences by having a tree planted, at 10 pounds a time, every time they take to the sky. In the three months since he started his business he has already taken 600 orders on his website, plus another 200 to 300 through a link-up with several travel agencies.

Buyers are promised that their tree will be numbered and tagged, so that they can come and inspect the sapling planted in an attempt to counter the environmental vandalism of their fortnight in Marbella. "I have been planting trees for years to offset my carbon emissions," says Mr Hartwell, 48. "But I ran out of resources and thought, rather than just me making a contribution, why not get people who are polluting more than I am to make a contribution too?"

Mr Hartwell is one tiny part of a multi-million pound industry that has grown out of the guilt created by grim predictions of global warming. There are dozens of companies now offering to "offset" your carbon emissions by planting trees, contributing towards the construction of windfarms or paying for green energy schemes in the third world.

On the subject of whether planting a tree really will make up for the carbon emitted by an airline trip, Mr Hartwell, who has worked as a professional tree-planter for, among others, the Forestry Commission, is honest. "I have planted my land with trees and I heat my home with wood rather than fossil fuels. If anyone was carbon-neutral it would be me, but I'm still nowhere near. A tree stores carbon for the duration of its life, but then releases it when it starts to rot. "That is why I am thinking of setting up a trust which will harvest the trees in a hundred years, and then dump them at sea or bury them underground in anaerobic conditions where they will continue to store their carbon.

"I'm trying to do it right, but what some carbon offset companies have been doing is taking money from the public, then claiming more money for tree-planting under the Woodland Grant Scheme. They then plant their trees on land which they don't own. How secure is that? The landowner could harvest the trees well before they had offset your emissions."

Besides being invited to offset their carbon emissions, guilty consumers are being tempted with lorry loads of "carbon-neutral" gifts. "This year make your Xmas a little greener by giving gifts from our great selection," screams the website of the Carbon Neutral Company. "You could balance out the emissions from someone's flights, home or travel... We've got ecogifts and gadgets that you and your family are sure to love." Among them are a "water-powered calculator" at 14.99 and a "wind-up torch and phone-charger" at 11.99.

The Carbon Neutral Company began life as Future Forests Ltd, doing much the same as Mr Hartwell does now. Since then, it has branched out into consultancy work, advising companies such as Honda and the mobile phone operator O2 on how to promote a greener image. Honda, for example, was advised to come up with a wheeze offering customers "one month of carbon-neutral driving" - in other words it gave a small donation to carbon-offset schemes for every car sold.

Under a tab marked "evidence", the website of the Carbon Neutral Company does not offer proof of global warming or give any hint as to whether the company's activities will make any difference to the planet. What it does offer is a piece of research by something called the Institute of Business Ethics, claiming: "Companies with a public commitment to ethics perform better on three out of four measures than those without. These companies also have 18 per cent higher profits on average."

Another way to cash in on global warming, as The Sunday Telegraph revealed in July, is to take advantage of the European Union's Emission Trading Scheme, which set carbon emission targets for particular industries and then allowed those industries to "sell" emissions if they undershot their targets and forced them to "buy" emissions if they overshot their targets. A study by the think-tank Open Europe found that some companies have been making a fortune from undershooting extremely liberal targets: GlaxoSmithKline's plant in Dartford, for example, used only a fifth of its allocation, while the scheme boosted the profits of BP and Esso by 5 million and 5.8 million respectively. Perversely, some of that money came from NHS hospitals, which had overshot their targets and were forced to buy emission rights from oil companies.

But it is not just private enterprise that has found fear of global warming to be the route to a fortune. Public bodies are using global warming as an excuse for revenue-raising. Justifying his plan to charge drivers of 4x4s 300 pounds for a parking permit, Serge Lourie, the leader of Richmond-upon-Thames borough council, said last week: "Climate change is the single greatest challenge faced by the world today. We can no longer bury our head in the sand and pretend that it is not happening."

While the Government lowered petrol taxes in face of the protests of September 2000, it has used climate change as an excuse for levying charges on homeowners. From next June, all homeowners thinking of placing their homes on the market will be obliged first to obtain an "energy performance certificate" at a cost of around 150 pounds a time. Since 2002, homeowners replacing windows, much to the glee of the double-glazing industry, have been obliged to fit double-glazing, and to pay their local authority to inspect it.

A growing number of public servants owe their careers to global warming. The Carbon Trust, a not-for-profit company which advises industry on how to cut its carbon emissions, chomped its way through a grant of 73.7 million from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs last year, paying its chief executive, Tom Delay, salary and bonuses of 200,478. Many of its functions are duplicated by the Energy Saving Trust, another not-for-profit company that spent 59 million worth of public grants last year. On top of that, there are the likes of the climate change co-ordinator recently appointed by the unelected North East Regional Assembly on a salary of 35,000.

There are also two Government-funded research units into climate change: the Hadley Centre, which is part of the Met Office, and the Tyndall Centre, which funds researchers at a number of universities, armed with a 10 million grant from the Government. Anyone wondering why British scientists appear often to present a united front on the issue of global warming may do well to study the Tyndall Centre's "objectives", which include "to seek, evaluate and facilitate sustainable solutions that will minimise the adverse effects of climate change and stimulate policy for the transition to a more benign energy and mobility regime". In other words, if you want public money to study climate at a British university, the answers are given upfront: the climate is changing, it is the fault of mankind and it can be alleviated by reducing energy use and travel.

It is an ill wind that blows no one any good. As the nation starts to digest Sir Nicholas's report tomorrow, it may care to reflect that some people are finding global warming quite profitable too.



For those who have a special affection for Scotland, there is a great article here by a Scotsman about the Scottish love of the bottle. He is trying to be censorious but cannot help celebrating Scottishness. A few excerpts:

The Buckfast fracas is emblematic of the ingrained, abusive and horribly destructive relationship between my countrymen and the bottle. We Scots make the best drink, and the best drinkers, in the world. No parties in the world can compare, in riotous enjoyment, with Hogmanay and Burns Night [Hear here!]. We just don't know when to stop...

Scottish humour and culture are soused in alcohol. Billy Connolly has long been sober, but his performance inevitably recalls, mocks and celebrates his legless days. Harry Lauder composed Glasgow's unofficial anthem as an ode to the city going "round and round" [That's from "I belong to Glasgow", which is usually attributed to Will Fife] on a Saturday night. John Reid, another reformed drinker, likes to tell a joke about how he found he was "allergic to leather" because he kept waking up with his shoes on and a splitting headache....

The drunken hero is a staple of Scots literature, and drinking has become culturally linked to the idea of liberty. Robert Louis Stevenson stated that "wine is bottled poetry" and Robert Burns himself wrote: "Freedom and whisky gang thegither." Somehow that sentiment has evolved into the freedom to get miserably blootered and die young....

The strange, miserablist tradition of Scottish drinking seems out of kilter with a nation that is increasingly self-confident, a country raking in money from tourists to spend on new livers. Today Scotland is wealthier, better educated and warmer than ever before. All dark, northern countries drink more deeply than those in the lighter south, [The French and the Italians might disagree with that] but now even Scottish weather seems to be improving. As I look outside the window, the rhododendrons are flowering for the third time, in late October.

As a child, I vividly remember the drunks lined up outside the hotel in our local village. Lurching, friendly men with wind-scoured faces, they would lean, patiently if unsteadily, against the wall between afternoon closing time and reopening in the evening regardless of the weather. My father insisted they were propping up the hotel.

Those drunks have long been gathered to the celestial tavern, but a new generation of Scottish drinkers is being pickled, with the freedom to drink all day, and alcohol comparatively cheaper than ever.

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