Saturday, June 30, 2007
GLASGOW (Reuters) - A four-wheel-drive vehicle rammed into the main terminal at Glasgow airport on Saturday and exploded in flames, Glasgow police and witnesses said.BBC radio says it happened at 3 pm. The eyewitnesses say the jeep cherokee was on giving off smoke & being driven towards the main building but burst into flames before getting there & that members of the public helped police catch 2 or possibly 4 Asian men.
There were no immediate reports of injuries.
A Glasgow police spokeswoman said the vehicle had not penetrated the building and the blaze was under control.
Britain has been on alert after two cars packed with petrol, gas and nails were found in London's teeming theatre district on Friday. Anti-terror police said the car bombs could have killed or maimed scores of people.
A witness in Glasgow told Sky News that an Asian man who had been inside the vehicle scuffled with police immediately after the incident, was wrestled to the ground and detained.
Another witness said a second man, also Asian, was on fire following the blaze and badly burnt. The flames were extinguished and he was also detained by police, the witness said.
This looks like similar tactics, though rather more desperate, to what was tried in London. Again they have not enough explosives, thankfully, to produce a devastating explosion though if they had been able to get the car inside the building & set off gas canisters the effect in an enclosed area would have been very like an explosion. It must have been an attempt at a suicide bombing since, in the middle of the day in a, relatively, isolated airport (it is about a mile from the town of Paisley) they cannot have had a hope of getting away.
I would like to hope that these men will turn out not to be from Scotland & part of the group who set off the London bombs. I have said before that I believe in the death penalty & even if no civilian has been killed I think it would be just here.
Strange as it may seem this is the first serious act of terrorism in Glasgow. All during the "troubles" in Ireland the IRA had the tactical good sense never to try anything here - the religious splits in Northern Ireland is mirrored in the west of Scotland though the Irish descended Catholics are as well entrenched inn government as the Kennedys.
It is clear that we do have a real problem going beyond a few nutters as I have reported before. is why I hope & think they will not turn out to be from Glasgow's Asian community). Compared to the IRA they are politically unsphisticated but compared to the IRA they are more murderous.
UPDATE - Kenny McAskill, Scottish cabinet Minister of Justice has just announced, as I had suspected & hoped, that the terrorists were not from Scotland.
Friday, June 29, 2007
EARL the proposed train link to Edinburgh Airport, officially costed at £610 million, but for which virtually no work has been done may be successfully canceled.
The previous Executive decided to spend £200 million on a rail link, agreed to be uneconomic between Glasgow airport & the city centre when they had an offer for a monorail link via Paisley station for £20 million.
A new Forth Bridge is being costed at £2.5 billion, far above previous estimates of about £1 billion.
By comparison the original road bridge - "Mott, Hay and Anderson and Freeman Fox & Partners designed and constructed the bridge at a cost to £11.5 million, while the total cost of the project including road connections and realignments was £19.5 million." There has therefore been an increase of 12,800% over 49 years - which comes out as 10.3% inflation ever year.
The proposal for a tunnel comes in at a figure I cannot believe is meant seriously but only to discourage interest in anything but a bridge - £4.7 billion.
This was discussed online in the Herald where I said:
"Previous estimates of a tunnel have been between £250 & $500 million & even this is very high compared to the cost of Norwegian tunnels http://www.vti.se/Nordic/1-03mapp/tunnel.htm at £3.5 ot £11 million per kilometre (11 kroner to the £ on the link). To claim that it will cost £4.7 billion is deliberate fraud.
We should ask international companies to publicly tender for a crossing & see what Bechtel & the like offer"
Someone else mentioned:
"Give the job of building a new forth road bridge to the French, The Millau viaduct is a beautiful example of French engineering and cost only £320,million!"
What set me off to put this on my blog an announcement today that by comparison with the expense of such projects here Germany & Denmark have just agreed to build a bridge costing £3.7 billion pounds.
It is a 20 kilometre bridge.
We are talking about public projects in Britain costing 10s, possibly several 10s of times what they cost abroad. I can see no technological reason for this & if anybody can think of a reason, other than a cosy relationship between favoured suppliers & the civil service involving massive fraud I would be interested to hear it.
For once I am with the EU - all such projects should be put out to tender & not with the self serving conditions used to fake a tendering process for MacBraynes (eg requiring ferries which, coincidentally, happened to be MacBraynes ferries) but instead with the broadest possible requirements viz "any form of crossing as long as it can carry the traffic".
UPDATE By comparison according to this site the modern price of something costing £19.50 should be £314.96 so the new proposal is 8 times more than the the present day cost of the original bridge.
Reminds me of a scene in I Claudius where Claudius, having been told Rome needs a new harbour & given estimates looks up the records for a similar scene in Octavian's time & finds that his civil servants have given him a vastly inflated figure.
Jerry: The tunguska event caused global warming? The theory is that noctilucent clouds of ice crystals changed the world's thermal balance.
It always helps to find out what's going on...
This would fit with the early 20th C warming which went up to 1940. However it then leaves the warming from 1975 to 1998 (promised to start rising again real soon now since 1999 to 2007 are said to be merely statistical outliers). This may not disappoint the warmers but the real lesson is that we do not know.
However if putting more water into the stratosphere really turns out to induce warming & it seems already agreed that putting up sulfur reduces it we would have our hands on the levers of climate control without having to declare war on fire.
Actually the idea of our present political leaders being able to easily control the climate, however much it undercuts the warming scare, is not particularly reassuring.
As you say, the bottom line is that we do not know
Thursday, June 28, 2007
On the other hand way back in 2001 when the warming hysteria was enforced but less firmly, the BBC said
Five million people in England and Wales are at risk of flooding
Cars floating down city streets and fire crews pumping water now seem a regular part of the UK landscape....
The Environment Agency says global warming means we face extreme floods more regularly in the future....
As many scientists link extreme weather to global warming, becoming more environmentally friendly will help, experts say.
Chris Williams, managing director of Hydro-International, which has been working on flood issues for 25 years, says making new buildings should be made eco-friendly......
"Making sure that homes are energy-efficient buildings and are made from energy-efficient materials will help reduce their carbon footprint," he said.
Peter Ewins, chief executive of the Met Office, said there was no doubt that global warming was a reality.
But he said ill-informed comments by European politicians were making it easier for President Bush to duck America's responsibilities to help tackle the problem.
"UK Government ministers are remarkably well-informed and measured in what they say," he said.
"My criticism is reserved for some people in Brussels and elsewhere in Europe who seem to suggest that one-off severe weather events are in themselves proof of global warming.
'The case is so strong'
"These statements do damage the case, which we think is so strong.
"It is easy for the Bush administration to rubbish the idea that a one-off severe event, like a flood or a drought, is caused by global warming, and therefore it makes it easier for them to refute the whole European stance."
Helping genocide in Yugoslavia in the name of democracy & European civilisation (actually Hitler often claimed to be defending European civilisation too), locking up children in mental hospitals to stop home schooling & taking & imprisonimg someone from Canada for Holocaust denial.
Now they have decided they don't like somebody because he professes a strange minority religion.
Germany has barred the makers of a movie about a plot to kill Adolf Hitler from filming at German military sites because its star Tom Cruise is a Scientologist, the Defence Ministry said on Monday.....As a culture they just don't get the idea of not bossing people around do they?
The U.S. actor has been cast as Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, leader of the unsuccessful attempt to assassinate the Nazi dictator in July 1944 with a bomb hidden in a briefcase.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
What the Tories seem to have forgotten is that what the British public values most are steadiness under fire, intellectual integrity and rock-solid consistency. What a leader stands for is almost secondary to the issue of trust.Heinlein once wrote that if a politician can demonstrate sincerity & a command of the facts they are most of the way there. Nobody doubts the intelligence & command of facts that Brown has - I think he should struggle at all costs to maintain sincerity & to separate himself from Blair's lack thereof. Such PMs are rare - Thatcher, Atlee & perhaps Churchill. Lloyd George started with a reputation for sincerity & lost it.
When voters mutter to each other about a party leader ‘Say what you like about what he believes, at least you know where you stand with him’, the electoral battle is all but won.
Try saying that, first about Mr Cameron and then about Mr Brown.
Now she says, in my view correctly, what is wrong with the new EU Constit... er treaty.
If a nation cannot take the foreign policy measures needed to defend itself, if it can no longer decide to whom it will grant the right of citizenship, or exercise its own historic values of law, justice and liberty, it is no longer an independent nation at all.The last point in particular is vital & has been barely reported. A document which contains the mechanisms of its own alteration is a constitution whatever you call it. All 3 parties have made promises to have a referendum on an EU constitution (even though Bliar originally promised it was merely a "tidying up exercise" which, though not in exactly the same words, we are being told now. She believe that Brown should immediately drop the treaty or at least submit it to a referendum. I would not go as far as her on the first part since the people of Britain have the perfect right to give away their sovereignty if they wish, but is dead on on the the referendum, if he wishes to keep a reputation for integrity.
And even worse than all of this is the outrageous provision by which this treaty can be amended in future without the need for any further treaties.
So we are not merely signing away all the powers listed in this treaty; we are also surrendering our ability to thwart any future attempt by Brussels to extend its power over us yet further in any way it might decide.
Prime Minister Brown should simply refuse to countenance it at all. Indeed, how could any Prime Minister committed to upholding democracy do otherwise?
That should be Mr Brown’s own, absolutely non-degradable red line. After all, if he accepts this treaty what will his first Cabinet be other than a transparent charade? What is the point of selecting a new Foreign Secretary, Home Secretary or any other minister if they are to be merely ciphers of Brussels?
If Mr Brown puts this constitution to Parliament and in addition refuses to hold a referendum, he will not merely forfeit the voters’ trust at the very start of his premiership
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Newsnight, BBC2, May 29In case we are to assume that she was flustered & being a poor helpless woman, didn't know what she was saying - she followed up on her blog with
Jeremy Paxman Is there any one of you who would say knowing what you know now ... you would have voted against the war?
Harman Yes, I would. I voted for the war because I believed there were weapons of mass destruction. If I had known that there weren't weapons of mass destruction I wouldn't have voted for the war. Clearly it was a mistake, it was made in good faith, but I think with a new leadership we have to acknowledge the bitterness and anger there has been over Iraq ... I don't think Jon [Cruddas] and I are trying to wriggle out of our responsibility. I just think if you are looking forward and trying to rebuild public confidence you've got to admit when you have got it wrong.
Paxman Do you believe the party should say sorry for what happened?
Jon Cruddas I do actually, as part of the general reconciliation with the British people over what has been a disaster in Iraq.
Harman (interjecting) Yup, I agree with that.
Cruddas And I don't think we can actually rebuild a sense of trust and a dialogue with the British people unless we fundamentally reconcile ourselves to what the situation is on the ground and our own culpability in creating it.
Harman I agree with that.
to spell out ... that we have to acknowledge that we got it wrong on Iraq because there were no weapons of mass destructionNow it turns out she never said it.
Today, Radio 4, Monday: I've never said the government should apologise. What I've said is I actually voted for the war on the basis that there were weapons of mass destruction and I was wrong on that. How many times can I say it? I haven't asked anybody else to do anything - I've just explained what my position is.Well this is not only an outright lie but about the fastest, most obviously bound to be discovered lie possible. Under what circumstances can anything this woman, whose job is now to convince people to join the Labour party, its membership having halved over recent years, be trusted. It probably isn't really possible to remove her now but in an ethical world she would go.
Of course politics being what it is it might be possible to justify here role if she was any good
After Labour's victory in the 1997 general election, she became Secretary of State for Social Security and was given the task of reforming the Welfare State. However, she made little progress and fell out with her junior minister, Frank Field. During this period Harman became regarded as an over-promoted 'New Labour' apparatchik, and she was called 'Harriet Harrperson' by her fellow Labour MP Austin Mitchellaccording to Wikipedia (at least today)
Dammit we should aspire to a culture of government where people are at least under pressure to behave honestly. Just as a dead fish petrifies from the head down a society which does not aspire to honesty in government will end up rotten at all levels. There is not even the excuse that she is competent - in fact while I have no high opinion as to the integrity of Bliar I have no doubt that he would have found some lawyerly way out of this by bending rather than breaking the truth.
Monday, June 25, 2007
Harman's vote was noticeably stronger among the party members & weaker among MPs/MEPs - it seems that when John Cruddas was eliminated only 1 of them transferred to Harman.
My strong suspicion is that she got in because she is a woman. This must be a virtual certainty since she only won by 0.87%. That there was a movement to get "a woman" on the ballot is a matter of record & it would be an unusual member of the PC brigade who would not put a woman somewhere on their list of preferences. This is probably even more so among ordinary members who have less else to go on. On the other hand it can reasonably be argued that the unions, where she was beaten as well, are a traditionally masculine organisation. On the third hand the unions, being ever more public sector workers are becoming ever more female at least at the shop floor level.
I am not quite saying the men wus robbed because there was no great enthusiasm either way but it is an interesting example of how alternative voting works.
UPDATE Ministry of Truth has a much more detailed article on this - he says the members vote was 53% (though only 8% among union voters) which is still a fairly low turnout but not as unenthusiastic as I thought.