Saturday, November 24, 2007


An email from Roger Helmer [], Conservative Member of the European Parliament

You may be interested in the letter below which I sent today to the Environment Editor of the Daily Telegraph, Charles Clover:

Dear Charles,

I was surprised to read in your piece in the DT yesterday that "no politician from a British party would side with the flat-earthers" (in your charming phrase) in the climate debate. I am afraid you are wrong. I myself have been campaigning against climate alarmism for some time. Only in April I conducted a major and very successful conference presenting the case against global warming hysteria, here in the European parliament in Brussels. My key-note speaker was former Chancellor Lord Lawson of Blaby, who shares my view on the issue. I also took the issue to a packed fringe meeting at the Conservative Party Conference in October.

The evidence shows that climate drives CO2 levels, not vice versa. And as an erstwhile mathematician, I know that the climate forcing effect of atmospheric CO2 is not linear, and certainly not exponential (as hinted at in Al Gore's mendacious disaster movie). It is logarithmic. We are already well up the curve, and further increases in CO2 levels will have a marginal effect on climate.

In the eighteenth century William Herschel showed that sunspots drive the price of wheat. We can now explain this phenomenon -- sunspots lead to an increase in the Sun's magnetic field, which reduces the cosmic ray flux in our upper atmosphere and reduces cloud formation, leading to warmer weather, higher crop yields and lower grain prices. Yet now you describe those who recognise that the Sun drives climate as "flat-earthers".

You would do well to read your fellow columnist Jan Moir in today's paper. "I've yet to meet the person, politician or otherwise, who takes carbon emissions seriously". This is my experience. While organisations, companies, political parties and the media buy into climate alarmism at the official level, I am astonished by the large numbers of well-informed people who admit privately that it's nonsense. This is a scare like the Millennium Bug. We shall look back from the cold winters of the 2020s and be astonished at our gullibility.

To be fair, the Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph have given a good platform to the other side of the debate. But I am disappointed that you personally seem to see no need to report in a balanced way, but have chosen to act as a cheerleader for the alarmists.

A Simmering British Controversy

I thought I might bring readers up to speed on an acrimonious display of hypocrisy among British intellectuals that began in October but is now still simmering in late November.

Read the two statements below and ask yourself which is hate-speech and which is a policy proposal, a proposal that is perfectly consistent with most members of the group being unproblematical:
1). Someone is described as a: "racist, anti-Semitic boor, a drink-sodden, self-hating reviler of women, gays and liberals"

2). "The Muslim community will have to suffer until it gets its house in order. What sort of suffering? Not let them travel. Deportation - further down the road. Curtailing of freedoms. Strip-searching people who look like they're from the Middle East or from Pakistan... Discriminatory stuff, until it hurts the whole community and they start getting tough with their children..."

It will be not be the slightest surprise to hear that the kneejerk response to the second utterance above was to label it as "hate speech" -- but it in fact says nothing at all about any characteristic of the Muslim community or any member of that community. It is simply a harsh proposal about how to deal with the aggression that emanates from some members of that community. One may disagree with the proposal as unlikely to be fruitful (etc.) but that is another matter.

The first statement above, however, could not be more derogatory and is as hateful as can be. That statement is undoubtedly the work of a hater. And you may not be surprised that the one undoubted hater out of the two mentioned above was a Marxist -- Terry Eagleton. Marx hated just about everyone and most of his followers do likewise. The man of the extreme policy proposal was Martin Amis and it is HE, not Eagleton, who has been accused of hate speech. It was, incidentally, Martin Amis's father whom Eagleton described so derogatorily.

The latest shot in the war of words is here. Hitchens defends Amis here and Amis puts it all into context here

The most important context however is that whether a thing is called "hate speech" or not depends on who said it. Leftists just CANNOT utter hate speech, by definition, apparently. Cindy Sheehan wrote in her book Peace Mom: "I fantasize about killing Bush when he was a baby." Hate speech? Of course not! Hate-filled speech need not be hate speech, in the wonderful fantasy world of the political Left. Who the REAL haters are is crystal-clear, however.

Coffee, tea... eco-guilt?

Virgin Atlantic's attempt to shame its passengers into onboard eco-penance is the latest flight of fancy from a guilt-ridden aviation industry.

Playing on people's guilt is the oldest trick in the book when it comes to charity fundraising. But the airline Virgin Atlantic has taken the concept to the extreme by trying to shame its passengers into donating money to the Swiss-based charity myclimate. If your idea of a holiday is a guilt-free escape from everyday life, then a Virgin Atlantic flight is sure to rid you of that apparently selfish delusion.

Virgin cabin crew have been instructed to offer passengers `carbon offsets' along with the booze, perfume and other items on sale on the in-flight duty free trolleys. As a Virgin spokesman told The Times (London): `If the person sitting next to you chooses to offset their flight, it may prick your conscience and you may pay too.' (1)

Prices of offsets vary according to the distance of the journey and the class you fly in. Using tenuous calculations to assess their passengers' impact on the planet (2), Virgin has figured out how much we must cough up to cleanse the filth generated by our energy-guzzling lifestyles. An economy-class return flight from London to New York will set you back just o11.98. This money will go to myclimate, which supports projects in the field of renewable energies and energy efficiency in Africa, Latin America and Asia.

No, 11.98 pounds is not a lot of money, but that's not the point. Not only does carbon-offsetting resemble a modern form of penance, encouraging us relatively wealthy Westerners to feel guilty about our convenient lifestyles, but the charities that promote offsets apparently have little time for public engagement and activism in order to convince us of their worth. Instead, they opt for simply selling us the feelgood factor.

Moreover, rather than working for genuine global material equality, many carbon-trading organisations only work towards sustainable underdevelopment for Third World residents - effectively, as Brendan O'Neill has argued on spiked, subjecting people in the Third World to `eco-enslavement' (3). So why should we be coerced by Virgin and others into supporting them?

Many airlines now offer carbon-offset options to customers as part of their online booking procedures, but there has been a slow uptake. Apparently, holidaymakers are reluctant to spend more on their travels in order to offset their carbon emissions. Some tourist agencies are trying to get around their customers' impertinence by introducing underhand methods to get them to repent their carbon sins. The tour operator First Choice, for instance, not only donates to the Travel Foundation, a charity that supports sustainable tourism projects around the world, but has also introduced an `opt out' carbon-offset scheme for its customers. Unless they specifically request otherwise, adults pay 1 pound and children 50 pence to offset emissions from their flights. First Choice then matches all donations (4).

Yet Virgin Atlantic's scheme takes the prize, because sitting crammed in an airplane seat, buckled up and with the aisle blocked by a duty-free trolley, there isn't much you can do to avoid the imploring carbon traders. Annoying as those street `charity muggers' are, stopping us on every corner to ask leading, conscience-twisting questions like `Do you care for the elderly?' or `Are you willing to spare two minutes for cancer research?', at least you can easily brush them off. On a plane, there is no escape.

Some of the money donated by Virgin passengers to myclimate will go towards supporting a power plant in India that runs on farming waste such as sugar cane husks. The purpose of this project is to use biomass as a fuel for energy production and to avoid waste materials rotting in the fields, where they release greenhouse gases and pollute the environment (5).

Sounds harmless. Yet biomass is a medieval fuel source and is not suitable for a twenty-first century energy supply. It could be argued that as an intermediary solution for impoverished rural communities, projects such as that run by myclimate make sense. Yet there is no sign that myclimate or other environmental charities would support those communities to move towards the modern forms of energy supplies that we in the West benefit from. In the developed world, we now take things like getting light by the flick of a switch or travelling great distances in a few hours for granted. Why should we feel guilty about this - and worse offset our guilt by donating to charities that seem designed to prevent people in the Third World from having as much as we have?

Flying, once an activity associated with freedom and discovery, and later seen as an immensely practical means of transportation, is now increasingly viewed as a mode of global destruction. Those who take flights are seen as selfish or even sinful and there is an array of campaigns to reduce air travel and to encourage us to make up for our planetary impact by donating money to carbon-offset schemes. By seeking absolution for our eco-sins in this way, the logic goes, we can continue to fly and at the same time silence that niggling thought that we are contributing to climate change. I'm not a Catholic, but I'm beginning to get a sense of what it might feel like to be one.


British imigration crackdown

Bradford bosses face hefty fines or jail if they knowingly take on illegal workers in the latest crackdown on rogue employees. Home Office minister Liam Byrne today announced that from February a new system of civil penalties will come into force under which employers who negligently hire illegal workers will face a maximum fine of 10,000 pounds for each illegal worker found at a business. And if employers are found to have knowingly hired illegal workers they could incur an unlimited fine and be sent to prison.

Mr Byrne was speaking only hours after three Bradford restaurants were raided by the Borders and Immigration Agency. One arrest was made at the Saffron restaurant in Leeds Road. Officers also targeted Omar Khan's in Little Horton Lane and Greengates Balti. No illegal workers were found at either premises.

The Government's announcement comes after a consultation with business across the country and forms the biggest shake-up in immigration for 40 years. Mr Byrne said: "Our attack on illegal working therefore attacks the root cause of illegal immigration into Britain." A national advertising campaign will be mounted to ensure everyone is aware of the new rules.

But Omar Khan, owner of Omar Khan's restaurant, criticised the way immigration officers carried out the raid on his premises. He said: "I do not have any issues with immigration checking businesses for illegal workers but there must be a better way of doing it. "They stormed into the restaurant, barricaded the doors filming with video cameras. My staff were made to feel like common criminals. It certainly doesn't look good to my customers when uniformed officers storm in and drag all my staff out of the kitchen and off the floor area. "One poor chap was lucky he had a copy of his passport on him because they did not seem to believe him - it was very intimidating. The whole place looked like a murder scene or something with all the officers there and the cameras. "I have no problem with them coming to my restaurant but there must be better, more discreet ways of dealing with the situation."

Chris Hudson, regional director of the Border and Immigration Agency, said teams would continue to visit businesses across the region to make sure they are not breaking the law.


NHS negligence kills a little girl

A five-year-old girl died during an operation when a trainee surgeon used an unfamiliar piece of equipment without her parents' knowledge, an inquest heard yesterday. Bethany Bowen died after the morcellator, a coring device with a blade, cut through a major blood vessel during the operation to remove her spleen.

Richard Bowen, her father, told the hearing that the first he and his wife had heard that surgeons were using a new piece of equipment was in the days after Bethany's death. Richard Whittington, the coroner, asked Mr Bowen if he would have given his consent if he knew a different surgical method was to be used during the operation in July 2006 at the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford. He replied: "We absolutely and completely trusted the people involved. If they had said they were using new equipment they had never used before, that was a different matter. You would think, `It is a new piece of equipment - why are they using it now?'."

Stephen Gould, a consultant paediatric pathologist who carried out the postmortem examination, told Oxford Coroner's Court that he had never before seen the type of internal injuries he found in Bethany's body. He could not give an accurate cause of death, adding later that the aorta could have been twisted and torn. He said that Kakina Lakhoo, the hospital's consultant paediatric surgeon, told him that the most likely cause of trauma was the morcellator. He added that he had never heard of the device.

Bethany, who lived with her parents and two brothers in Cricklade, Wiltshire, suffered from spherocytosis, a hereditary condition. It involves the body producing the wrong-shaped red blood cells, which are attacked and destroyed by the spleen. The anaemia it causes can be cured only by removing the spleen. Mr Bowen said that despite her condition Bethany was a "happy and lively" little girl who had a "whale of a time" during her first year at school.

The inquest heard that her brother, William, also had the condition and had his spleen operation when he was 2. Mr Bowen said he had assumed that the same surgeon who had carried out William's operation would conduct Bethany's. The inquest heard, however, that William Sherwood, a trainee surgeon, carried out the procedure on July 27 last year, despite having had no substantial training in using the morcellator device.


Brussels wants to scrap labels saying 'Made in Britain'

Ministers were last night under pressure to reject an attempt by Brussels to scrap 'Made in Britain' food labels. Proposals to switch to a Europe-wide 'Made in the EU' labelling system will be discussed by the European Commission next month. The scheme provoked outrage at Westminster, with the Tories pledging to save the traditional British labels on foods ranging from Stilton to Marmite.

If implemented it would leave British consumers unable to tell where the contents of their shopping basket come from in the EU. The rule would apply even if the final product is based on imported foodstuffs. Only meat would be exempt, so that goods such as Danish bacon and Parma ham could be identified by their origin.

Westminster sources indicated that Gordon Brown, who has made no secret of his dislike of Brussels bureaucracy, is likely to veto the idea. Europe Minister Jim Murphy told MPs Britain would fight the proposal, which was put forward by Cypriot health commissioner Markos Kyprianou.

The Tories were outraged by the plan. Europe spokesman Mark Francois said: 'British farmers are under enough pressure as it is without the EU obscuring what food comes from Britain and what doesn't. 'If British consumers want to support British farmers, they have a right to know the food was produced here.' The leader of UKIP, Nigel Farage, said: 'It's time to become like the French and ignore this stupid EU law.'

The idea of an EU-wide labelling scheme was first put forward three years ago. But it was ditched after an outcry from politicians and business leaders across the EU, who warned it would deal a hammer blow to traditional food manufacture. Dutch Labour MEP Dorette Corbey warned the EU labels could also prevent consumers from establishing how far their food has travelled from producer to shop. 'The trend is to look at where a product originates from,' she said. 'Transport over long distances is bad for the environment.'

The plan, which is due to be published in December, was leaked yesterday to Dutch media. Politicians there also criticised the proposal, calling it 'too general' and bad for the environment. A similar plan in 2004 was quashed by Britain, Germany and the Netherlands, on the grounds it was unnecessary and too costly. The 'Made in the EU' plan is part of a package of proposals on labelling designed to give consumers more information on food content such as the levels of salt and fat.

Brussels gave up the fight in September to make Britain drop pints, pounds and miles in favour of the metric system. But Britain's growing wine industry is now also under threat. Just as the popularity of English wine is soaring, the European Commission wants to limit the planting of new vineyards for the next six years. The rules would punish countries whose wine industry is expanding, such as Britain.


British under-sevens 'too young to learn to read'

What utter garbage from this "expert"! Some children learn to read as early as age 3. The real problem is the "all kids are equal" doctrine that haunts thinking on the matter. Kids are NOT equal. What WOULD make sense is for children to be enrolled according to their mental age rather than according to their chronological age but that would be "elitism!", I suppose

Children should not start formal learning until they are seven, according to a world expert in nursery education who will suggest today that teaching reading and writing earlier can put them off for life. Teaching children at five to read and write can dent their interest in books later on, according to Lilian Katz, a professor of education at Illinois University, who will today address an international conference on nursery schooling at Oxford University. "It can be seriously damaging for children who see themselves as inept at reading too early," she told the Guardian. Boys were particularly vulnerable when rushed into reading too soon, she said.

Her comments come amid mounting concern over reading skills. In England, a quarter of all 14-year-olds now fail to reach the expected standards, and boys are struggling even more. Earlier this month a Cambridge University report strongly criticised Labour's 500m pound national literacy strategy for having a "relatively small impact". It concluded that children's reading skills had not improved in 50 years.

Moves in England to introduce more structured learning for three- and four-year-olds could store up problems in the long term, Katz suggests. English schools start formal teaching at five but there are plans to introduce a foundation stage for three- and four-year-olds which will set new learning goals, including one which specifies that by the time children start school at five they should be able to at least "use their phonic knowledge to write simple regular words". Katz, a former president of the National Association for the Education of Young Children and a respected authority on early years education, said: "Teaching younger children can look OK in the short term but in the long term children who are taught early are not better off. For a lot of children five will be too early. "That has a more negative impact for boys. For most boys they are growing up in cultures where they are expected to be assertive and active. In instruction they are passive and receptive and reactive, and in the long term that accounts for the negative effects. In most cultures girls tend to put up with instruction earlier and better."

The conference will examine the case for starting formal teaching at a later age. In Sweden children do not start formal instruction until six or seven. Professor Ingrid Pramling-Samuelsson, from the University of Goteborg, who is president-elect of the World Organisation of Preschool Education, will tell the conference that academics in Sweden have been "surprised" to hear that England is moving towards earlier formal instruction.

The children's minister Beverley Hughes will also address the conference about the early years foundation stage, which has been interpreted by some as the extension of the national curriculum to toddlers. The government is adamant that despite setting goals for children to reach they are not targets and it is not a formal curriculum.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families said: "The formal school starting age of five has served children well for decades and standards in our primary schools have never been higher. The curriculum is age-appropriate and we actively support teachers to adapt their teaching to the needs of children. We want all children to make progress in literacy and numeracy at an early age, as these skills are critical to their ability to get the most out of learning later on."


Bungling British bureaucracy kills: "An investigation has started into the criminal justice failings that resulted in a bus passenger being killed by a man who should not have been released from prison. Richard Whelan was stabbed seven times after trying to stop Anthony Joseph throwing chips at his girlfriend on the top of a double-decker bus. Joseph had been released from a young offender institution hours before the attack, despite a warrant being in force for his arrest on another matter. He pleaded guilty yesterday to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility, after jurors failed to reach a verdict on murder. He is being treated for paranoid schizophrenia at Broadmoor secure hospital."

Surge of Anglicans embracing Rome: "The Pope will discuss how to deal with the increasing numbers of disaffected Anglicans wanting to join the Roman Catholic Church at a meeting with cardinals from around the world. Benedict XVI, who is making the reunification of Christendom a goal of his pontificate, is considering requests from at least three US Episcopal bishops for reception into the Catholic Church. He has also been approached by an entire breakaway group of traditionalist Anglicans. The meeting in Rome comes on the eve of the consistory to create a tranche of new cardinals and as the Anglican exodus over gays continues."

No comments: