Saturday, August 15, 2009


This is extraordinary (and not believable) for a collective academic body -- particularly one that "is widely recognised as one of the world's leading institutions concerned with the study of natural and anthropogenic climate change". Their ducking and weaving amounts to an admission that they have distorted the original data in undefensible ways and they are not going to let anybody correct that. By now they probably HAVE deleted the original data, just to make sure it never comes to light. Just another lot of Greenie crooks! If they were honest, they would have said from the beginning that they had not retained the raw data and that it was just their OPINION about the data that they were promulgating

Steve McIntyre, of ClimateAudit, is a determined individual. While this may be no fun for those who fall under his focus and happen to have something to hide, more sunlight on climate science cannot be a bad thing.

Lately Steve has been spearheading an effort to get the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia to release the data that underlie its analysis of global temperature trends. Such a request should not at all be controversial. Indeed the atmospheric sciences community went to great lengths in the 1990s to ensure that such data would be openly available for research purposes, culminating in World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Resolution 40 on the international exchange of meteorological and related data and products. The Resolution states: "Members should provide to the research and education communities, for their non-commercial activities, free and unrestricted access to all data and products exchanged under the auspices of WMO . . ."

WMO recognized the need to protect commercial activities, but placed no restrictions on the exchange of climate information described as follows: "All reports from the network of stations recommended by the regional associations as necessary to provide a good representation of climate . . ."

Obviously, the ability to do good research depends upon good data with known provenance. At the time WMO Resolution 40 was widely hailed in the atmospheric sciences community as a major step forward in data sharing and availability in support of both operations and research.

Thus it is with some surprise to observe CRU going through bizarre contortions to avoid releasing its climate data to Steve McIntyre. They first told him that he couldn't have it because he was not an academic. I found this to be a petty reason for keeping data out of the hands of someone who clearly wants to examine it for scholarly purposes. So, wanting to test this theory I asked CRU for the data myself, being a "real" academic. I received a letter back from CRU stating that I couldn't have the data because "we do not hold the requested information."

I found that odd. How can they not hold the data when they are showing graphs of global temperatures on their webpage? However, it turns out that CRU has in response to requests for its data put up a new webpage with the following remarkable admission (emphasis added): "We are not in a position to supply data for a particular country not covered by the example agreements referred to earlier, as we have never had sufficient resources to keep track of the exact source of each individual monthly value. Since the 1980s, we have merged the data we have received into existing series or begun new ones, so it is impossible to say if all stations within a particular country or if all of an individual record should be freely available. Data storage availability in the 1980s meant that we were not able to keep the multiple sources for some sites, only the station series after adjustment for homogeneity issues. We, therefore, do not hold the original raw data but only the value-added (i.e. quality controlled and homogenized) data."

Say what?! CRU has lost track of the original data that it uses to create its global temperature record!? Can this be serious? So not only is it now impossible to replicate or reevaluate homogeneity adjustments made in the past -- which might be important to do as new information is learned about the spatial representativeness of siting, land use effects, and so on -- but it is now also impossible to create a new temperature index from scratch. CRU is basically saying, "trust us." So much for settling questions and resolving debates with empirical information (i.e., science).

To be absolutely clear, none of what I write here should be taken as implying that actions to decarbonize the global economy or improve adaptation do not make sense -- they do. However, just because climate change is important and because there are opponents to action that will seize upon whatever they can to make their arguments, does not justify overlooking or defending this degree of scientific sloppiness and ineptitude. Implementing successful climate policy will have to overcome the missteps of the climate science community, and this is a big one.


Cannabis ‘can help to prevent osteoporosis in the elderly’ -- but harms the young

Psychotic oldsters with healthy bones coming up? Very strange results. Maybe the researchers themselves were high when they did the study. It's only a mouse study anyway and lots of effects observed in mice turn out differently in humans

Cannabis can help to prevent osteoporosis in the elderly, according to research. The findings could lead to new treatments being developed to treat the crippling condition. Researchers at University Edinburgh also found, though, that the drug can weaken the bones of younger people.

The discovery was described as “exciting” by charities, but they cautioned that it was important to understand the negative consequences of cannabis use on young bones. It was previously recognised that bone development was affected when a molecule in the body, known as the cannabinoid receptor type 1, came into contact with cannabis. It was not clear, though, whether the impact was good or bad. Now the Edinburgh team has established that this depends on the age of the user.

They exposed mice to compounds similar to those found in cannabis. They found that, in the young mice with the receptor, the compounds increased the rate at which bone tissue was destroyed. When the older mice with the receptor were exposed to the same compounds, though, their bone loss decreased and the accumulation of fat in the bones was prevented. Among older people bone regeneration normally slows down and fat builds up, causing osteoporosis.

Stuart Ralston, Professor of Rheumatology at the university, who led the study, said: “This is an exciting step forward, but we must recognise that these are early results. We plan to conduct further trials soon and hope the results will help to deliver new treatments that will be of value in the fight against osteoporosis.”

Professor Ralston said that the ideal way forward would be to develop a drug which was similar to cannabis but which did not have the same psychotropic effects. He added that smoking cannabis with tobacco was bad for bones at any age.

It is estimated that three million people have osteoporosis in Britain. One in two women and one in five men over the age of 50 will suffer broken bones because of the condition.

Claire Bowring, medical policy officer for the National Osteoporosis Society, said: “This is an exciting study ... but it is important to understand the potential negative effects on peak bone mass [in the young] as well as the positive protection from age-related bone loss. We look forward to further research to see if these effects are mirrored in [people].”


Flapjacks to be banned in Britain?

Supermarkets should stop selling high-calorie snacks and treats to help to fight the country’s obesity problem, the outgoing chairman of the Food Standards Agency says. Dame Deirdre Hutton has spoken out as the watchdog prepares new targets for food manufacturers to reduce the calories and saturated-fat content in cakes, pastries, biscuits, chocolate bars and fizzy soft drinks.

A drive against supersize portions and bargain multipack offers on junk food is also part of the effort. “It is my personal view that supermarkets should stop marketing food that is small in size and high in calories. For example, flapjacks should not be on sale,” Dame Deirdre said.

Her remarks were made in an interview with The Times to mark the end of her four-year tenure as head of the agency. “I don’t think that supermarkets should be selling this very energy-driven food,” she said. “We should be making low-calorie food the norm and anything that is high in fat should be niche. We should reverse the norm and stores should sell 90 per cent healthy food and 10 per cent unhealthy.”

Research [i.e. brainless straight-line projections] has found that, without action, about 90 per cent of today’s children will be overweight or obese by 2050, with the bill to the taxpayer estimated at £50 billion. At present 22 per cent of children in England are overweight or obese by the time they start school, and by the age of 10 or 11 the proportion is almost 31 per cent.

Labels on the front of packs to identify unhealthy food items are seen as vital to help to change buying patterns. However, Dame Deirdre’s enthusiasm for them has triggered numerous clashes with food industry chiefs who are vehemently opposed to “traffic light” labels, with some food packaging carrying red alerts, plus guidance on the maximum recommended daily consumption of salt, sugar and fats. Leading companies including Tesco, Nestl√© and Danone are against these labels, although the guidance is already used on food sold at Asda and Waitrose. Widespread take-up depends on a decision by the European Commission, which could take at least another year, though it is possible that ministers will introduce new laws in Britain.

Dame Deirdre made clear, however, that the food industry had already shifted its position on labels and the need to improve the nation’s diet. “When I started here they kept saying that food was an individual choice as part of a balanced diet,” she said. “Now they have recognised that they are part of the solution and they need to play ball, and they are. But that’s not to say we won’t be pushing them harder — we will.”

Fraudsters and firms that flout food safety laws should face tougher penalties, Dame Deirdre added. Most cases are heard by magistrates, and many offenders get only light fines.“I would like to see courts hand out much higher fines and penalties, especially as the agency is being more pro-active on enforcement”.

She warned that all food outlets faced more spot checks by enforcement officers. The recent spate of sheep rustling across the country had raised her concerns that illegal slaughter of animals was rife and could pose a threat to human health.

She said that she frowned on the use of “tertiary” labelling by supermarkets, whereby they invent a location brand for products. Marks & Spencer uses the LochMuir name for some of its fish packs, which has a picture of a loch, but no such loch exists. Tesco sells a chicken range under the Willow Farm label, also a fictitious location.


Leftist Britain to make the best universities accessible only to the well-off!

The left-hand clearly does not know what the right-hand is doing

Imagine that all the children in this country went to state schools. There would be good schools, bad schools, but no schools that charged fees. Pushy parents would still try to wangle their kids into the best schools, but simply buying a better education wouldn’t be an option.

And then imagine if the top schools asked the Government for permission to charge fees on top of their state funding. Of course this would mean losing pupils from poor backgrounds. But that couldn’t be helped if they were to maintain their high standards.

I presume that any British government would turn them down flat. Even the right wing of the Tory party would balk at state schools being allowed to price themselves out of the reach of the poor.

Yet this is exactly what is about to happen to the British university system. Whichever party wins the next election, it will clamp down hard on state support for universities. In return it will allow the leading universities to charge top-up fees of £7,000 to £8,000 a year.

At present university funding is a hybrid system. In most of Britain (the Scots are, of course, different) the government gives universities an annual sum for each undergraduate of between £3,000 and £15,000, depending on subject. Students themselves are asked for about £3,000 on top. The government doesn’t allow universities to ask for more, although they can, in principle, charge less. And because this cap on fees is so low, nearly all universities ask for the full £3,000, with the result that doing a degree at Oxford costs no more than at Hull.

But if the limit on top-up fees is raised in line with all the noises currently emanating from Peter Mandelson’s √ľberdepartment, the market will start to bite for real. Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College and the other top dogs will promptly charge the maximum. But the Hulls of this world won’t be able to fill their seats at those prices, and will ask far less. At which point the best universities will become the preserve of the rich.

Political leaders on both sides are rightly keen to increase the proportion of state school children in the top universities. About half of the undergraduates at Oxbridge come from fee-paying schools, although the private sector educates less than one tenth of the age group. But there will be no hope of fixing this once universities can charge commercial rates. The people who can afford top university fees will be those who can afford school fees, and the government will have connived in turning our university sector into a state-subsidised version of our miserable school system.

No doubt there will be a system of means-tested bursaries to help families on low incomes. But this won’t solve the problem, any more that Margaret Thatcher’s misbegotten assisted places scheme turned the public schools into havens of social equality. A bursary scheme will assist the few children from very poor families who fight their way to a top university. But in a country where most households manage on less than £25,000 a year after tax, there will be a lot of families above the means-test line who can’t afford the extra fees.

The high-end British universities argue that their inability to charge higher fees is making them slide down the international league tables. But the facts do not bear this out. Most of these tables rank up to 20 British universities in the top 100 worldwide, and about 4 in the top 10. Only the US does better and even it is behind on a per capita basis. Britain is streets ahead of its European competitors. Any country in the world would give its right arm to have universities like ours.

Indeed there is good evidence that universities that rely on fees from rich parents are rarely academic heavy-hitters. There are plenty of “rich kids’ colleges” in the US, and some are academically substantial. But the vast majority of leading US universities are not like this. They are either hugely endowed, such as Harvard and Yale, so able to admit students without even asking if they can pay. Or they are highly subsidised state institutions, such as the Universities of Michigan and Texas, where local pride ensures that residents receive a fine education at nominal rates.

Neither of these options is on the cards in Britain. The kind of money commanded by Harvard and Yale lies far beyond the dreams of British university bursars. And you only have to imagine asking Hull’s taxpayers to fund its university to see the problem. Which leaves only one alternative. Once the cap comes off top-up fees, our proudest universities will quickly turn into rich kids’ colleges, and academic excellence is more likely to suffer than gain.

We all know that public money will be tight over the next decade. But the government must find some alternative to free-market university fees. It is no accident that admission to one of our world-leading universities is one of the few things in modern Britain that money can’t buy. Once it is restricted to those children lucky enough to have rich parents we really will start to slide down the international scale.


Dumbed down Britain again

Boy, 15, gets an exam pass - just for using the bus

Eagerly awaiting his GCSE results, Bobby McHale was surprised to receive an early letter from an examination board. The 15-year-old was not expecting his results until later this month, so he was understandably nervous as he opened the mystery envelope. But what he saw left him astonished, for Bobby had indeed been awarded a certificate - for getting the bus.

It came from the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance, the largest of the three English exam boards, and was headed Using Public Transport (Unit 1). The certificate recognised, among other skills, his ability to walk to the local bus stop, enter the bus 'in a calm and safe manner', and wait until the bus has stopped before trying to get off.

Bobby, who wasn't even aware he had taken the test, received the AQA certificate after attending a three-week holiday scheme for teenagers run by Bury Youth Services in Greater Manchester. Some of his friends who attended the scheme also received the qualification although others, including his younger brother Joe, 13, did not. 'Maybe he wasn't up to it,' said Bobby, who is hoping for A grades at GCSE. 'At first I thought I'd got some sort of GCSE early. When I read out the details to the family we all fell about laughing. 'The Bury Youth Scheme is excellent and we get the chance to do a lot of activities but I can't see the point of the certificate at all.'

His father Andy, 44, who runs a marketing company, said: 'Bobby's face was a picture when he saw the certificate. 'The Bury Youth Scheme is excellent and I can only suppose this comes from some box they have to tick in order to get funding. 'As part of it Bobby certainly travelled by bus. Maybe it's boosted his confidence because he was nominated as head boy. We think he may go far - so long as he gets the 135.' Bobby, who attended the course last year, said he won't be boasting of his achievement. 'I haven't bothered framing it,' he said.

More than 920 young people had signed up for the BRAG (Bury and Rochdale Active Generation) course last year and around 300 would have been awarded some sort of accreditation - either for sporting prowess or through an AQA qualification. The annual cost of running BRAG events is £20,000, paid for through a Government grant.

Barbara Lewis, of Youth Support Services in Bury, said: 'This certificate isn't just about getting on the bus, it's about time management, working out bus routes and for some people, travelling alone for the first time. 'We encourage people to make their own way to the range of activities on offer and work with parents by asking them not to drop them off in the car. For some it may be the only qualification they get. 'The idea is that it's about teaching young people self reliance and emotional well-being through fun and challenging activities. We try to reward young people for their achievements and their social and personal development.

AQA awards 49 per cent of full course GCSEs and 42 per cent of Alevels in England. Pupils sit more than 3.5million exams with it each year. A spokesman said: 'We expect centres to ensure that candidates are entered for units that are appropriate to their needs and abilities.'


Yet another false rape claim exposed in Britain

These cases are coming thick and fast. Cry-rape girl, 20, dragged man into toilets for sex to claim £7,500 compensation -- with the usual shocking effects on her male victim

A woman faces jail after luring a man into having sex with her and then crying rape in a plot to claim thousands of pounds in compensation. Sarah-Jane Hilliard, 20, applied for £7,500 from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority days after falsely accusing Grant Bowers, 19, of raping her. Yesterday, the telesales employee was told she faced a jail term, after her web of lies was exposed in court in May.

Hilliard told police she met up with Mr Bowers, whom she regarded as a friend, at Liquid nightclub in Basildon, Essex, on July 26 last year. She said he joined her and a friend in their taxi home, but when she stopped in a public toilet by the railway station he came in and attacked her.

In reality they had met at another club and walked to the station, and it was she who lured him into the toilet - even telling him he 'better be there for the baby' if she became pregnant. Mr Bowers was arrested and bailed. But eight days later, after police failed to find CCTV images of the pair outside Liquid, Hilliard's friend confessed that they had actually been in the nearby Colors nightclub all night. CCTV footage from there clearly showed Hilliard and Mr Bowers, both from Basildon, kissing and holding hands before leaving. Officers contacted Mr Bowers and told him he would not be charged and instead arrested Hilliard for perverting the course of justice.

But this did not save him from being made a hate figure. 'The last 11 months have been horrendous,' he said. 'I've lost all my self- confidence. I don't know why she did it but her lies have ruined my life.'

Mr Bowers's father, Tony, 48, said his son had to move out of Basildon because of threats against him. He said: 'After the court case people started kicking the door of his flat in and shouting "rapist" though the letterbox. 'He moved into temporary accommodation but he heard that people were offering £100 to find out where he was. He's been threatened and chased through town with a knife too. 'He's petrified. He's left Basildon and is staying with friends because he's worried about what's going to happen.'

In Hilliard's trial at Basildon Crown Court in May, Andrew Jackson, prosecuting, said: 'This incident has changed Mr Bowers. 'He speaks of his lack of confidence approaching young women, not trusting them and having trouble sleeping. 'He was physically sick through worry, constantly teary and feeling like he wanted to cry.'

Jacqueline Carey, defending, said Hilliard had an 'extremely difficult period in her past' which she had discussed with a psychiatrist. Hilliard was found guilty and was due to be sentenced yesterday but that was adjourned until next month to wait for further psychiatric reports.


After 12 years of Leftist government, Britain has a real modern-day Gestapo: Two people have been successfully prosecuted for refusing to provide authorities with their encryption keys, resulting in landmark convictions that may have carried jail sentences of up to five years. The government said today it does not know their fate. The power to force people to unscramble their data was granted to authorities in October 2007. Between 1 April, 2008 and 31 March this year the first two convictions were obtained. The disclosure was made by Sir Christopher Rose, the government's Chief Surveillance Commissioner, in his recent annual report. [Are Americans looking forward to getting a "Chief Surveillance Commissioner"? It's your turn next if America's Leftists stay in complete control for long. Note that the trial appears to have been held in secret and the names and prison sentences (if any) of the "offenders", plus what they were originally suspected of are all secret. Even the Gestapo could not do better secrecy than that]

Why British parents should oppose vetting: “If we understand and appreciate the vital role played by other adults that makes raising a family something more than a thankless chore, we should be very clear about the destructive consequences of Britain’s national vetting scheme. This scheme subjects all adults whose paid or voluntary work is seen to give them the opportunity to develop a relationship of trust with other people’s children to a criminal record check, and puts their details into a gigantic database that will constantly ‘monitor’ their status.The purported aim of this scheme is to prevent convicted child abusers from gaining access to kids. The consequence is a systematic poisoning of the relationship between generations.”

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