Wednesday, December 19, 2007


An email to Benny Peiser from David Whitehouse [] below

Ever missed a story? Seems to me that the BBC has: "2007 data confirms warming trend"

These figures show that the global average temperature 2007 was statistically identical to 2006, which was statistically identical to 2005, which was statistically identical to 2004, to 2003, to 2002, and to 2001 as well. The BBC does not report figures for 1999 and 2000 which were lower than 2001.

Statistically the data set 2001 - 2007 is a constant with a miniscule 0.03 deg variation. Taken separately the chances that the data for 2001 - 2007 comes from the same population distribution as the data points for 1979 -1998 (which showed a rapid warming) is less than 1%.

During 2001 - 2007 the concentration of man-made CO2 going into the atmosphere increased by roughly 10% from about 370 ppm to 383 ppm (pre-industrial level 280 ppm).

Who knows what will happen in the future but for now scientists have established beyond doubt (indeed at a higher level of statistical confidence than any expression of confidence in the recent IPCC Synthesis report) that Global Warming has halted. Of course the world's ecosystems are reacting to the overall warmth of the past decade.

The headline should therefore be: "Scientists confirm Global Warming standstill"

It will be interesting to see what other sources of global temperature data say in the new year.


In the proposed coal-fired power station at Kingsnorth, Gordon Brown is facing his first test since pledging to put Britain at the forefront of efforts to combat climate change. A proposal to build the UK's first coal-fired power station in more than 30 years will land on his desk in the next few weeks.

New coal would fly in the face of advice from the UN's top climate scientists, who warn that global emissions must peak and then fall dramatically within the next 100 months to avoid the most dangerous effects of climate change. Even Mr Brown's "special adviser" on climate change, Al Gore, said in August: "I can't understand why there aren't rings of young people blocking bulldozers and preventing them from constructing coal-fired power stations." Greenpeace couldn't have put it better. The only question remaining is if the Prime Minister is listening.

Mr Brown's decision on new coal will determine in large part whether Britain can meet its global warming targets, which the Prime Minister suggested would be revised upwards to an 80 per cent cut in emissions by 2050. Giving the green light to Kingsnorth - and other stations - will lock Britain into huge carbon emissions for decades and signal Mr Brown's surrender on the 80 per cent target.

E.on is planning to build a plant at Kingsnorth that will emit more than 8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide every year; and waiting behind Kingsnorth are proposals for at least seven further new coal stations. This generation of coal-fired power stations will account for half of Britain's permissible carbon emissions in 2050 if Mr Brown goes for a 80 per cent target. The hope that the Kingsnorth plant will be "ready" to adopt Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology in the future is a triumph of hope over experience. A UN report into the viability of CCS predicted that it won't be able to play any significant role for decades.


The Anarchist Cookbook of the nursery?

An entertaining illustration of the difference between Brits and Americans is on view with reactions to a book entitled, Forbidden Lego: Build the Models Your Parents Warned You Against. Fox News reports the book promises

"You'll learn to create working models that LEGO would never endorse," the book's page on the publisher's Web site promises. "Try your hand at a toy gun that shoots LEGO plates, a candy catapult, a high voltage LEGO vehicle, a continuous-fire ping-pong ball launcher, and other useless but incredibly fun inventions."

It seems the Brits regard the book as a shocking and threatening development:

"Lego is set to turn slightly more sinister with the launch of an unofficial book that teaches children how to make weapons out of the iconic plastic bricks," warned London's Evening Standard. The Daily Telegraph dubbed the tome "the Anarchist Cookbook of the nursery"

I'm sorry, but this is just silly. I never did get the Daisy air rifle I craved, just like Ralphie in A Christmas Story, but my friends and I survived slingshots and other home made weaponry without turning into sociopaths. Boys like to propel objects over distances. It's part of being a boy.

Americans seem to be handling the book in stride, and it is selling well. If I were nine years old or so, the book would be on my wish list.

Update: Cliff Thier points out that strange language of the Evening Standard: "Lego is set to turn slightly more sinister..." More sinister? Meaning Lego already is sinister? Apparently so.


The essence of Orwellianism: A comment from Britain, home of Orwell's "Ingsoc"

Liberty and the state: It isn't the spycams that make Britain Orwellian - it is New Labour's taste for intervening in our lives

Many claim that we live in Orwellian times. There are spycams on every street corner. The war on terrorism increasingly looks like a "war without end". The government uses the politics of fear to keep us in our place. It seems that Eric Blair's nightmare has become the stuff of Tony Blair's (and now Gordon Brown's) New Britain.

Yet many overlook the real Orwellian strain in contemporary society. It is not the CCTV cameras or bulging databases that make Britain Orwellian - rather, it is New Labour's taste for intruding into our personal lives. The most terrifying thing about the dystopia of Nineteen Eighty-Four was the Party's management of people's relationships with each other, and its attempts to replace the human emotions of spontaneity and passion with conformity to a soulless etiquette. Something similar is happening in Britain 2007 - yet this very real Orwellian outburst is ignored by those who bang the drum for liberty.

Orwell depicted a world in which personal relationships were smashed apart and reconstituted as relationships between the individual and the state. "We have cut the links between child and parent, between man and man, and between man and woman," boasts torturer O'Brain: "No one dares trust a wife or a child or a friend any longer."

New Labour is instituting a similar tyranny of distrust. Its Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 - a Stalinist piece of legislation that requires the 10 million adults who work with children to undergo criminal records checks - transforms what were once relaxed relationships between groups and individuals into relationships managed and monitored by the state. Even the dad who coaches a kids' soccer team on Sunday mornings, or a mum who organises school runs in her 4x4, will have to regularly submit to a background check by the suspicious state.

In treating every adult who comes into contact with kids as a potential deviant, the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act implicitly educates young people to regard adults with caution. As the Mayor of Oxford, Jim Campbell, said of the Act: "We are in danger of creating a generation of children who are encouraged to look at people who want to help them with suspicion." We have cut the links between child and adult.

New Labour tramples on the sacred terrain of family life, too. It uses parenting orders and compulsory parenting classes to "re-educate" feckless mums and dads. And it has set up a National Parenting Academy (a Ministry of Parenting), in order to, as the Home Office puts it, "nip antisocial behaviour in the bud". In short, the government must play in loco parentis to the nation's children, by developing what it calls a "parenting workforce", because real parents cannot be trusted to turn out well-behaved, model citizens - or "child heroes", as conformist brattish children are described in Nineteen Eighty-Four.

In the discussion about "fetal ASBOs" - the government's attempt to determine which unborn children will become criminals in the future - we see Orwellianism run riot: here, ideas of pre-crime meet the state's desire to police even fetuses. Even Orwell's Party waited until people were born before it put them on the conformism treadmill. New Labour has cut the most intimate link of all: that between mother and fetus.

Orwell's Party had an intense suspicion of spontaneous, emotional relationships. The Party's aim was "not merely to prevent men and women from forming loyalties which it might not be able to control", but to eradicate the "sex instinct" altogether. New Labour fears the sex instinct, too. Its safe sex campaigns - which long ago crossed the line from polite advice into moralistic hectoring - seem designed to dampen lust. In the Department of Health's latest disgusting TV ads, young men and women are shown in the throes of passion wearing Y-fronts and knickers that say "chlamydia" or "gonorrhoea" on them. The message is clear: sex is dirty and dangerous. Think twice; wear protection; practice caution; do not give in to your sex instinct.

New Labour's plethora of legislation on "personal harassment" and "stalking", now so broadly defined as to be meaningless, brings passionate relationships under the watchful eye of the state. And the unstoppable rise of codes of conduct in workplaces and colleges, which dictate what we can say to each other and even what tone of voice we should use, has killed off flirting and sexual banter.

In Nineteen Eighty-Four, the Party turned children into instruments of government policy. Indeed, "it was almost normal for people over 30 to be frightened of their own children". New Labour is moving towards recruiting child spies, too. Last year it introduced the first speaking CCTV cameras, and launched a competition in schools to find "socially conscious" children to provide the hectoring voices on the day the cams were launched. The Respect Taskforce (the Ministry of Respect) said this was about "encouraging children to use their pester power in a positive way". A government report has proposed urging schoolkids to educate their parents about eco-living, in order to bring about a "cultural shift" in the attitudes of the population.

In Orwell's dystopia, the Party implores everyone to keep fit. Winston Smith always wakes to a "grim" reality: he has to "join in compulsory exercises following the instructions given by a woman from the telescreen". New Labour is likewise obsessed with telling us to exercise, what to eat, whether we should smoke or drink. Government bodies also regulate our behaviour through the issue of climate change; they enforce compulsory recycling and cajole us into living meek, austere lives. Indeed, if there's one "war without end" that is used to justify rationing, restraint and repression today, it is not the war against terrorism but the war against global warming. The government, supported by an army of slavish greens, evokes images of future doom in order to lower our expectations and keep us in our place.

The spying technology was not the scariest part of Orwell's nightmare vision. Rather it was the Party's hostility towards emotion and desire, and its interventions into every corner of people's private thoughts and personal lives, that marked it out as terrifyingly new and tyrannical. And so today, we might do better to focus less on New Labour's hi-tech spying, or even its anti-terror legislation, and more on its deep distrust of private life and loving relationships. "They can't get inside you," Julia tells Winston Smith when they start their illicit (non-safe sex) love affair. Let us stop New Labour from getting inside us, too.


Immigration centre riot after detainees 'went wild'

Detainees at an Oxfordshire immigration centre "went wild" on Monday after security guards in riot gear removed an inmate from his cell, campaigners said. Police and fire services were called to Campsfield House near Kidlington after reports of a disturbance in the early hours. Supporters from the Campaign to Close Campsfield said that "a handful" of detainees had broken CCTV cameras and light fittings, flooded toilets and set fire to blankets. They said the violence erupted shortly after 5.20am when ten officers entered the cell of Davis Osagie in Blue Block.

Campaigner Bob Hughes said: "They told me that the guards did not give the man a chance to go quietly. Ten men in riot gear walked straight in at 5.20am and almost went straight in with boots and fists." A handful of detainees "went wild and broke things", he said. He said that detainees reported that the building was now cold with water everywhere and some men had not eaten breakfast and were all confined in their rooms "too exhausted" to create any more trouble.

The centre holds 218 male detainees and was converted in 1993 to hold immigrants awaiting deportation. It has been the subject of a campaign to close it for many years.

In March this year nine people were taken to hospital suffering smoke inhalation after violence broke out and fires were set. Months later, in August, 26 men broke out after starting fires. Police recaptured 12 men the following day but some still remain at large.

A Border and Immigration Agency spokesman said: "The Prison Service and police have assisted the Border and Immigration Agency by securing the perimeter which has not been breached. GEO, who run the site, have asked the Prison Service for assistance, and a number of specially-trained prison officers have been sent to Campsfield."


Student teachers 'bullied' away from working in private schools

Ingrained Leftism at teacher-training colleges again

Student teachers enrolled on state-funded training courses are being told they risk "selling their souls" by working in independent schools, according to a new report. Some graduates joining fee-paying schools are said to have been made to feel like "pariahs" as teacher training colleges "bully" students towards state schools, it is claimed

The findings - in a survey by the Independent Schools Council - will fuel suspicions over increasing hostility in the public sector towards private education. Almost 40,000 students completed teacher training courses at universities and colleges across England last year. Under existing regulations, they are required to work in a school for at least a year before being considered fully qualified. But according to an ISC survey of 750 graduates, one in 10 were told by tutors that it was "not possible" to do an induction year in the private sector, which is untrue.

Four in 10 teachers said they had been given "no information" about the possibility of working in independent schools, suggesting that many trainees were being diverted towards state schools. Only 32 per cent of new teachers reported that university and college tutors were supportive of those attempting to work the in the fee-paying sector. Some teachers reported "negative comments and attitudes" from staff, revealing a "quite striking level of hostility and ignorance" towards schools. One teacher said tutors' reactions ranged from "quiet disappointment to utter indignation". Another insisted: "They attempted to make pariahs of us - almost like institutional bullying."

The report said: "Other tutors had been openly hostile, criticising the morality of squandering one's training in the independent sector, and suggesting that there was an obligation to give something back to the state, society, and the British taxpayer." One teacher told researchers: "It was very clear that they wouldn't have given me a place had they known, and told me to 'examine my social conscience'." Another revealed: "I was made to feel that I was selling my soul."

Surprisingly, the report made particular criticism of Oxford and Cambridge universities. Of 35 Cambridge trainees quizzed, just six said they had received a positive response to working in private schools. Only one of the 17 Oxford graduates was told to consider working in independent schools.

The ISC, which represents schools educating 80 per cent of children in the private sector, has now written to 150 training colleges asking demanding fairer treatment. "We would expect that factually accurate information concerning all teaching and induction opportunities in all schools is imparted to trainee teachers in a professional manner," said Judith Fenn, director of recruitment. "We would also hope that this professionalism be extended to the even handed treatment of any and all trainees who are successful in finding employment in any school."

The report comes amid growing concerns over public sector attitudes towards the independent sector. Under legislation published this week, fee-paying schools are being forced to register directly with Ofsted for the first time - a move branded a threat to their independence. A recent shake-up of charity law also means fee-paying schools no longer have an automatic right to call themselves charities - a status which brings tax breaks worth œ100 million a year.

The Training and Development Agency for Schools, the teacher training quango, said: "Newly-qualified teachers can complete their induction in independent schools affiliated to the ISC with the support of a qualified teacher. Clear induction guidance is available on the TDA website."


The British government data bungles multiply: "The British Government has suffered new embarrassment over missing data after it revealed one of its contractors had lost the details of 3 million learner drivers. The mistake came just weeks after Prime Minister Gordon Brown's Government admitted it had lost computer discs containing the names and bank account details of 25 million people, exposing nearly half the population to possible fraud and identity theft. The opposition Conservatives accused the Government of incompetence over the data loss, the latest in a series of mishaps that have caused the popularity of Mr Brown's six-month-old team to plunge. Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly told Parliament a private contractor reported in May that a hard disc drive had gone missing from a facility in Iowa in the US. It contained the names, addresses and other details of more than three million candidates for a theory test taken by learner drivers in Britain. The disc drive did not contain any bank account or credit card details, Ms Kelly said. She also revealed that two discs containing the details of 7500 vehicles and the names and addresses of their owners had been lost in transit." [It is events like this that make many people oppose national ID cards]

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