Wednesday, January 03, 2007


A leading German utility has abandoned plans to convert a British power station to run on palm oil, in a blow to the promotion of biofuels in Europe. The decision by RWE npower to scrap the project at its Littlebrook plant in Dartford, Kent, which was seen as a test case for palm oil as an alternative energy source, comes after it was unable to secure sufficient supplies without risking damage to tropical rainforest. The move highlights the mounting alarm over the scramble in South-East Asia to bring more land into palm oil cultivation.

Widely used in processed foods, such as margarine, and in cosmetics, palm oil is burning bright on commodity exchanges. The price in Rotterdam soared to an eight-year high last week of $620 per tonne, buoyed by fears that floods in Malaysia would damage production. It has risen by more than 50 per cent over the past year in expectation that the burgeoning market for biodiesel will transform a previously dull commodity into the fuel of the future.

The Indonesian Government has signalled that 40 per cent of its palm oil crop will be designated for biofuel production in an attempt to reduce the country's reliance on crude oil.

RWE npower had hoped that palm oil would produce electricity in a carbon-neutral process that would not add to greenhouse gas emissions. According to a spokesman for RWE npower, the process works but the company was unable to guarantee that enough palm oil could be bought from sustainable plantations. "There wasn't enough palm oil that we could demonstrate was sustainable," the spokesman said. "The bottom line is: are you contributing to global warming by chopping down rainforest?" The company hired independent auditors to establish whether palm plantations in Malaysia could be accredited to standards set by the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil, an organisation committed to promoting a sustainable palm oil industry.

Close attention paid to the RWE project by environmental groups, such as Friends of the Earth, did help to tip the balance against palm oil, RWE's spokesman admitted. The environmental group claims that 87 per cent of deforestation in Malaysia between 1985 and 2000 was caused by palm oil plantations. Other groups, such as World Wide Fund for Nature, have mounted vigorous campaigns to save the orang-utan, which is threatened by deforestation in Indonesia.

Further opposition is brewing in the European Parliament, which is considering a ban on imports of non-sustainable palm oil. This stance brings it into conflict with the European Commission, which is anxious to promote biofuels in its drive to reduce European carbon emissions. Public concern about rainforest wildlife is ringing alarm bells among UK supermarket groups. Several groups have joined the Round Table, hoping to develop an effective scheme that will guarantee sustainable palm oil.


UK Muslims Refuse to Wash Hands in Hospital

And a gutless British government averts its eyes

British Muslims are refusing to wash their hands with required anti-bacterial disinfectant gels. The Muslims are protesting the practice on religious grounds, as the gels contain alcohol.

Anti-bacterial gels are used in hospitals to guard against “superbugs”, including Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) and Periventricular Leukomalacia (PVL). British healthcare workers said they were shocked to discover the practice of Muslims refusing to disinfect their hands before entering patient rooms.

NHS care assistant Theresa Poupa at London Chest Hospital said: “I could not believe it. The signs are large enough and clear enough but they [Muslims] just took no notice and walked straight onto the ward! I was there almost every day for three weeks and I saw it repeated dozens and dozens of times. When I raised the matter with the nursing staff they just shrugged and said that Muslims were refusing to use the gel because it contained alcohol.”


How to chase people with choices out of teaching

"Modern" approaches to discipline degrade teacher quality

Compensation payments to Scottish teachers injured as a result of assaults by pupils have risen tenfold over the past year, new figures show. In 2006, 55,000 pounds was paid out to members of Scotland's largest teaching union as a result of assaults, compared with just 5525 the previous year. The dramatic increase in compensation will spark renewed concerns over rising levels of indiscipline in schools.

The number of incidents resulting in compensation recorded by the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) doubled from four in 2005 to eight last year. One teacher was paid 26,000 compensation after an attack by a pupil, while another received more than 18,000 for facial injuries following an assault. Two teachers were given payments of 2475 and 1500 following injuries they received while trying to break up fights between pupils. Last year, the total amount of compensation paid following accidents or assaults to teachers and college lecturers by local authorities and the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board was 170,000, the same as 2005. Figures obtained by the Scottish Tories in September showed a 25% increase in attacks on teachers in 2005-06, with 2768 incidents of physical violence against school staff.

A Scottish Executive-backed survey two months ago by the National Foundation for Educational Research found that primary and secondary teachers thought schools had become more violent since 2004. In November, primary headteachers called for school staff to be offered lessons in how to restrain violent pupils. Ronnie Smith, general secretary of the EIS, said: "These cases are at the extreme end of the scale and there are more than 52,000 teachers in our classrooms. It is nonetheless discouraging that this is happening at all. "We don't want to get to a situation where it was felt that this sort of violent incident came with the territory because that would be a major deterrent to recruitment and would have an impact on the quality of teaching."

Mr Smith said teachers should always report serious incidents. "Teachers, in common with many other public service workers, are far too often on the receiving end of assaults in the course of their work. "Employers have a duty to assess and minimise the risk facing teachers, and also to send a clear message that all violent conduct - physical or verbal - will not be tolerated."

David Eaglesham, general secretary of the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association, echoed the concerns. "We haven't had as much support as we could have from the local authorities. The executive has at least agreed the problem needs addressed," he said. "We want to encourage a zero-tolerance approach, but it requires a sustained, long-term campaign by everyone involved in education."

Charlie Gray, education spokesman for Cosla, which represents local authorities, said councils treated the safety of all employees seriously. An executive spokeswoman added: "It is important to remember that most Scottish children behave well in school and most schools deal effectively with indiscipline."



Implications of a British survey

I have written at some length here about why the Jews have been hated for so long by so many but there is no doubt that, particularly among Leftists, that hatred goes back to the fact that Jews are both distinctive and successful -- in a word: envy. Hatred of success and prominence in others is in fact at the heart of most Leftism so envy is a most important motive, not only in politics but also in everyday life -- as Schoeck pointed out and explained at length long ago. It would be almost true to say that the power of envy can never be underestimated.

And, without a doubt, despite their vast generosity not only with money but even with the blood of their young men, America is the world's most hated nation today. You can murder vast numbers of people -- as Saddam did and as Robert Mugabe is doing right to this day -- and nobody gives a damn. Even genocide in Sudan doesn't seem to be bothering anyone much. But be powerful, successful and demonstrably so much better than the norm and you will be hated.

I am saying nothing original in saying that. It is a common explanation of anti-Americanism. But now I think we have some rather clear proof of it. There was a recent opinion poll reported in Britain that, as expected, put America first as the most hated nation -- with 15% of the population nominating the USA as their prime hate object. Even more people dislike America than dislike the ghastly North Korea.

The interesting thing, however, is which nation was the most admired? It was the country most similar to America -- Australia was chosen by 18% of the respondents. The major difference between America and Australia is power and influence. Politically and culturally, America dominates the world whereas Australia is a bit-player. And it is no good saying that America is also more warlike. Australians have fought alongside Americans in all major wars since World War I -- and Australians have even been in some wars America has not -- such as the Boer war and recently in East Timor.

The power of envy to distort thinking is truly awesome. Fortunately, America, like Israel, is rather good at defending itself whenever it has a mind to -- which just makes it even more hated, of course.

A good quote from V.D. Hanson: "We gave the Palestinian Authority hundreds of millions of dollars for housing, schools, and security and they hate us; Saddam gave them a few thousand dollars as bounty for suicide murderers and they loved him"

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