Saturday, July 31, 2010

Day 22 - Battle of Britain

It is a typical summer day - warm with clear skies. To those who could get access to the the beaches, an increasing number of which had been cordoned off in expectation of the invasion, bathing was an option. And that morning, a Sunderland of No. 10 Sqn Royal Australian Air Force, based at Mount Batten, is escorting the merchant cruiser Mooltan, out from Plymouth after a refit.

Three and a half hours out, at around, 08:55hrs, the pilot, Flt Lt Bill Garing (pictured) - nicknamed "Bull" for his voice, not his size - sights a formation of five Ju 88 bombers heading for his ship. He flies his heavy flying boat at them aggressively and, faced with an aircraft nicknamed the "flying porcupine", the Germans decide that discretion is the better part of valour. They retire. Garing is awarded a DFC for the action.

No. 10 Squadron RAAF is an interesting unit. Established on 3 September 1939 by Australian personnel already in England, they take delivery of new Short Sunderland flying boats (pictured top). Attached to the RAF, they are the sole RAAF presence in the European theatre until 1940 when the first Australians trained under the Empire Air Training Scheme began to arrive. When the squadron is officially disbanded on 26 October 1945, its aircraft have flown 4,553,860 nautical miles, undertaken 3177 operational flights and sunk five submarines.

Read more on DAYS OF GLORY

Not a happy proposition

Li Ka-Shing, Asia's richest man, has bought EDF's British electricity network business for £5.8bn. This is a deal we are told, that will see its £500m pension deficit for UK workers reduced by a quarter.

Advisers to Li Ka-Shing said the investor was "delighted" by the deal and could now look to buy more regulated assets in the UK. They said he had been attracted by sterling's stability and the regular returns of the UK power market.

However, there is every reason why EDF customers – and the British nation – should not be "delighted". The market has been "surprised" by the £5.8bn price tag – 45 percent over the "mooted value" – after the Hong Kong investor entered a bidding war with another consortium.

Scottish and Southern Energy, a potential third bidder, withdrew earlier in the process saying the asking price was too high considering the assets' deteriorated state. We thus have a situation where Li Ka-Shing is paying massively over the odds.

EDF, of course, is keeping hold of its much more valuable electricity generation business, and has been keen to sell off the UK distribution side in order to reduce debt after its £12.5 billion takeover of British Energy in 2008.

But, while EDF will be happy, in the nature of things, nothing is for nothing. Li Ka-Shing will want his money back. And, in a relatively competitive market, there are few options for major price increases. One other option is to "sweat" the assets, squeezing every penny profit, while cutting back on the investment.

But, if Scottish and Southern Energy felt it could not make money out of the business, despite already having a similar business in place, it is very hard to see how Li Ka-Shing can squeeze out a sufficient return. That is not a happy proposition - there must be a hidden agenda here, which does not bode at all well.


Friday, July 30, 2010

Day 21 - Battle of Britain

While the previous day had been fair, this Tuesday 70 years ago was marked by unsettled weather, low cloud and drizzle. Flying, therefore, was heavily restricted. Nevertheless, before noon, the Luftwaffe was out hunting on the Channel and North Sea, with a group of Ju 88s (type pictured) attacking a convoy off the Suffolk coast without success.

Read more on DAYS OF GLORY

The latest WWF campaign

Really good one this, a jolly jape by WWF in Bonn, involving a toilet, Saudi Arabia and a nameplate. But it is all very well for the WWF to be "deeply sorry" now. What about its claims that its actions are conducted on the basis of "robust, peer-reviewed conservation research and analysis."

And while the WWF is in the "sorry" mode, could we have an apology for the terrible mess it made on its "Amazongate" claims, relying on a website for unsubstantiated information, rather than using "robust, peer-reviewed conservation research and analysis".


The dirty stuff

Somebody has to do it, and if I can't even bring myself to think about The Boy, then there is someone who is prepared to get their hands dirty – the redoubtable and combative Mary Ellen Synon.

This lady is much under-rated ... a sort of thinking man's Dellingpole, and much nicer looking. But that does not stop her ripping into Cameron with a gusto that is wholly admirable.

His current activity, she asserts, The Boy wants us to believe is true Conservatism. In response, the only question, says Mary Ellen Synon, is: "at what point are the true Conservatives going to rise up and roar that is isn't?"


Greeks baring rifts

It might have disappeared from the notoriously parochial British media, but it is still there – Greece, that is. And their problems have not been resolved. In fact, they seem to be getting worse. The current round of troubles started a few days ago when the nation's lorry drivers announced their intention to go on indefinite strike today over plans to open up their sector to new licenses, opening up the transport business to new entrants.

Predicted shortages of fuel and goods, particularly on the Greek islands, have not been long in materialising and, at the height of the season, hundreds of thousands of holiday-makers look set to get caught up in the chaos, with even food and shortages of medicine threatened.

The government has no choice but to persevere – this strike being one of many as ministers try to implement fundamental economic reforms to meet the conditions imposed by the EU and IMF. Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou, has been struggling to meet the targets to secure a second payment of €9 billion by September.

With at least 100,000 tourists who had driven to Greece from neighbouring Bulgaria and Serbia now stranded, thousands have abandoning their cars as a result of fuel shortages. Officials taking the highly unusual step of beseeching visitors to stock up on fuel in Macedonia.

Premier George Papandreou set out emergency legislation late on Wednesday, threatening the drivers that unless they returned to work they would face stiff fines and their vehicles being requisitioned.

This is only the fourth time since the end of military rule in 1974 that such legislation has been invoked, but as yet no one is sure how the drivers will react to it. Chances are, the riot police are going to be busy, and one or two heads are going to get broken.

What is particularly vexing the government, though, is that the entire administrative structure seems to be breaking down. Under the emergency legislation, so-called mobilisation orders are supposed to have been issues, but most lorry drivers have yet to receive them.

The government is left without its big stick, seeking to negotiate a settlement, yet finding more and more sectors – one of the latest being the air traffic controllers – withdrawing their labour. Greece, it would appear, is not the place to be at the moment. But then it never was when there are a rather large number of Greeks baring rifts.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Day 20 - Battle of Britain

The order to shoot down the German Seenotdienst aircraft, marked with Red Crosses, was still having its ramifications. Some RAF pilots were refusing to obey the order, and others wanted to see it in writing. Accordngly, on this day, the Air Ministry issued a communiqué.

Read more on DAYS OF GLORY

Right of reply

To the great Monbiot, The Guardian has given me right of reply. The comments are open on the piece – it will be interesting to see how the debate develops. If you comment there, you might also like to post a copy on the comment thread here, link below.


Bit more than a headache

Under the headline, "Europe's €30 trillion headache", Ambrose Evans-Pritchard tells us that European banks have amassed €30 trillion in liabilities.

This is according to a new report by Standard & Poor's, which says that the banks face a serious funding threat over the next two years as authorities withdraw emergency support.

We have now developed a situation where banks are at risk of a vicious circle as sovereign debt fears and financial stress feed off each other.

"Banking sector woes are eroding sovereign credit-worthiness, which is in turn reducing the real and perceived capacity of governments to support weak banks," says S&P. The EU's €750bn "shock and awe" rescue has gained time but not conjured away underlying concerns about the fiscal health of the EU states themselves.

In passing, do I recall the Chinese saying something which did not exactly contradict this?

Either way, this strikes me as being a little more than a headache ... unless you are talking about the sort of pain felt when an unprotected head meets a fast-moving sledgehammer. But at least that is quick.


In the interests of justice

And when they change the pigs, they sound just the same.

Home Office Minister Baroness Neville-Jones has defended the coalition government's decision to opt in to an EU order giving foreign police the power to demand evidence held in the UK. She tells peers: "We believe that opting into the EIO is in the interests of justice. It does not transfer any jurisdiction, which is what many might have feared."

Labour, Tories, Lib-Dims, Cleggerons ... all the same. Indistinguishable.


Scroll down slowly

... very slowly ... you will come to a picture ...

Elf and safety, anybody?


And your point is?

The Met Office, we are led to believe , is telling us that global warming evidence is "unmistakable".

This, of course, is the organisation which famously told us to prepare for a barbeque summer and the highway authorities that they needed no extra salt for the winter.

But, never fear. It has analysed ten indicators. Seven are rising: air temperature over land, sea-surface temperature, marine air temperature, sea level, ocean heat, humidity and tropospheric temperature in the "active-weather" layer of the atmosphere. Three are declining: Arctic sea ice, glaciers and spring snow cover in the northern hemisphere.

Without dissecting the detail – leave that for others – note a certain bias, such as in: Arctic sea ice is "declining". Well, maybe, maybe not. But Antarctic ice is increasing at a record rate. And then, while spring snow cover may be declining, winter snow cover is increasing.

In other words, our old friend the cherry-picker is at work here – alongside Mr Weasel himself, Dr Peter Stott, who tells us that short-term changes which counter the trend are simply "climate variability", and that long-term trends needed to be looked at.

Well, let us turn to the Arctic. There is good evidence here that the climate undergoes an eighty-year cycle. Yet the records being used go back to 1979 – very much the short-term, which Stott tells us to avoid. He and his ilk see "clear and unmistakable signs of a warming world" because that is what they want to see. The best they can manage though is a fraction of one degree – in an interglacial period where one would expect temperatures marginally to rise.

What none of them will address is whether this marginal warming is natural – a combination of the underlying rise and longer-term cyclical variation, or man-made. They see it as man-made, because that is what they want to see. Life is too short to deal with these people. They sap life energy and, were they not so dangerous, they would best be ignored.


Does anyone actually care?

Watching three days-worth of oral evidence at the Chilcot inquiry on the Iraq war is not for the faint-hearted, but it is better watching the video over the internet than being there.

The reason for so doing is to follow the strains of evidence related to the Snatch Land Rover and especially relevant was Tuesday's evidence from Lt Gen Sir Robert Fulton, Deputy Chief of Defence Staff (Equipment Capability) from 2003 to 2006, and his successor, Lt Gen Andrew Figgures. He held the post from 2006 to 2009.

I write this with some diffidence, but am bolstered by the comments of a contact with whom I have been working these many years. He articulated by own impressions – that these two senior generals, when it comes to protected vehicles and IEDs, are extraordinarily ignorant. If you have the time, watch the performance of Fulton (pictured). It is lamentable.

But with Dannatt yesterday, if you put the narrative together, from the evidence, you come inescapably to the conclusion that the Army blew it. When it came to protecting troops from IEDs, as Dannatt himself says, "It remains unsatisfactory that it is only now that we have closed with the issue ... We worked round the problem, we didn't actually confront the problem."

We also get from Dannatt some extraordinary claims about the Future Rapid Effects System (FRES). The man actually tells us that this had originally been envisaged in 2002 as a "short to medium term requirement" with the first vehicles to enter service in 2007.

Once again, Dannatt betrays his own ignorance. It may be difficult to understand that the professional head of the Army can be completely out of touch but, like politicians, senior officers also live in their "bubbles", completely divorced from the real world.

One of the reasons why the Israeli Army was so successful is that it was largely staffed by reserve officers, who had real jobs outside the Army. British Generals, with their Army mansions, their servants, chauffeur-driven limousines, and deferential staff, are dangerously insulated from reality. They really are terrifyingly out of touch.

Even then, if Dannatt really believed that FRES was going to be operational by 2007, then he is worse than ignorant. He displays a naivety of almost staggering proportions, neglecting as he does the last word of the acronym: "system".

FRES is what the US was calling FCS, the Future Combat System. It always was going to be complex and it was always much, much more than a vehicle replacement programme. It was to be a whole new way of fighting, part of the revolution in military affairs. It was to redefine military operations in the post-Cold War era.

Yet Dannatt claims he was "horrified" to learn in 2005 that the project had grown in cost and sophistication, with the delivery date put back to between 2015 and 2018. If he really expected otherwise and was at all surprised, then one really must wonder where he was ... to which monastery he had retired.

The thing is that even I was writing about FRES in 2004. Yesterday six years ago to the day, I wrote my first piece on the system, following up today, six years ago, with another piece. Don't take my word for it. Look at it, on the record. Six years ago, on 29 July 2004, I wrote:
... the government is preparing to sink around £6 billion into buying 900 vehicles, with an estimated budget for the total costs of ownership over the expected 30-year service life of almost £50 billion. That is a staggering £6.7 million average cost to buy each vehicle and an unbelievable life-time cost per vehicle – yes, each vehicle - of £55.5 million. To say that it would be cheaper to drive our troops into battle in a fleet of top-of-the-range Rolls-Royces hardly begins to illustrate the extravagance.
If I was writing that sort of thing then, how can Dannatt claim that he learned only a year later that, "the project had grown in cost and sophistication"? For that to be true, he must have been on another planet, or tucked away in that monastery.

If we did not know him better, we might think he is taking us for fools. In reality, the man has by now convinced himself that what he believes to be the truth is the truth. There are people like that. He is one of them. And the media, which has never followed FRES properly, nor understood it - any more than has the likes of Dannatt - allows him to get away with it. The journalists currently reporting on the issue have neither understanding nor history.

With Dannatt's evidence though, with Fulton, Figgures, and Jackson who also gave evidence yesterday, there can be no doubt that the MoD held off acquiring protected vehicles to protect the funding for FRES. There can also be no doubt that it took the politicians to push the military into acquiring the Mastiff.

Yet the journalists are completely misreading events. Both The Guardian and The Daily Mail are at it as well. They are inverting the truth with their narrative that the Army was warning ministers about vehicle deficiencies. But the Army was not. The minsters were kicking the Army, telling it to get protected vehicles ordered.

And, as a final twist, we learn from Fulton, that the military already had a replacement for the Snatch lined up - the Vector. In their minds, they did not need anything else when they already had something in mind. Left to themselves, Vector would have gone into Iraq as well as Afghanistan. That was the original plan. Even more would have died than actually did, had the Army been allowed to run the show.

The problem is, does anyone care – do they care enough to get it right, or is everyone seemingly content that a completely distorted view of history should prevail?


Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Booker has a few suggestions for Chris Huhne's employers, lovingly detailed in The Daily Mail .


Day 19 - Battle of Britain

The weather on this Sunday was fair, although it clouds over in the evening limiting flying in some areas. The morning sees attacks in Cornwall, Cardiff and Newport. In the early afternoon, a sizeable force of forty bombers escorted by Me 109s heads for Dover. Nos 74, 41, 11 and 257 Sqns engage. The raid is broken up.

Major Werner Mölders, Geschwader commander of JG 51 and one of the top three Luftwaffe pilots up to this time, is severely wounded after mixing it with Sqn Ldr "Sailor" Malan, CO of No. 74 Sqn. Mölders manages to return to base but takes no further part in the battle for over a month.

In Newcastle, twenty-five high explosive bombs are dropped almost in a straight line across the city. There is considerable damage. Three women are killed. One woman and two men are injured. (One report attibutes this to 18 July, although an official report puts it on this day and the newspaper confirms it.)

Read more on DAYS OF GLORY

Bills up by a third

Householders face a £300-a-year rise in their gas and electricity bills and significant cuts in how much energy they use if Britain is to "keep the lights on" and meet its climate change targets, the "Government" has said. Actually, this is that fool Huhne, who has said people would have to make "ambitious" cuts in their own consumption.

So, what he is proposing is that we should use less electricity and pay substantially more for it, ending up with higher bills despite cutting consumption. As a motivational message, this is little short of moronic, although we've stopped wondering what these people do for brains.

The worst of it is that Huhne is almost certainly under-estimating the costs. Earlier estimates have gone as high as £5,000 a year for our energy bills.

There is a third element here, as well. Even though we are set for higher costs, and reduced consumption, at this rate we will almost certainly have power cuts as well. Huhne's grasp of the electricity supply industry makes this almost a certainty.

And, run not away with the idea that this is a maverick minister, indulging in his own free-lance fantasy. This fatuous policy very much has the support of The Boy, who is seemingly happy to drive the entire population into fuel poverty.

We appreciate that there was not much choice at the last general election – but choice there was. One trusts now that those who thought a vote for Dave or his minions a good idea are fully appraised of their foolishness.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Day 18 - Battle of Britain

In view of what actually happens on this Saturday, 70 years ago, the official account almost has a comic element to it. Initially, we are told:
Enemy activity appeared to have further decreased and those aircraft with few exceptions approaching the coast seemed to devote their attention to reconnaissance of shipping and to attacks when opposition was not immediately encountered but turned away when fighters were in the vicinity.
In fact, Luftwaffe operations start about 09:45am, with an attack on a convoy off Swanage, Dorset. Simultaneously, two convoys off the estuary are bombed, and a group of ships off Harwich come under attack.

Read more on DAYS OF GLORY

Look at the timeline

An article in The Daily Telegraph (online), headlined: "Ministers were warned that troops would die in Snatch Land Rovers", declares:
Ministers were formally warned that using Snatch Land Rovers on the frontline would cost lives years before the vehicles were withdrawn, according to previously secret documents.
The copy, based on an agency report, thus continues a fictional narrative, eagerly seized upon by the Lib-Dims, which has been going on for years, about how an increasingly frustrated Army was desperately calling for better equipment, only to be rebuffed by "penny-pinching" ministers.

And, as always, the narrative – like the story – is wrong, a dangerous and ill-measured distortion which flies in the face of the evidence, even the evidence on which this story relies.

The basis of the story is a formerly secret minute, now released by the Chilcot (Iraq) Inquiry, written by Lieutenant General Sir Nicholas Houghton, then Chief of Joint Operations at the military's Permanent Joint Headquarters (PJHQ).

But the framing is that Houghton told the government in July 2006 that front-line commanders wanted better-protected vehicles so they could carry out missions "without unnecessary casualties".

Crucially, the date of the letter is 7 July 2006 and, to follow the story properly, you need to look at the timeline. There, as we all know, the Snatch issue broke into the public domain in June 2006, nearly a month before the Houghton letter was sent.

Then, looking at the letter, we see that it is a response to a letter sent on 5 July, two days earlier, where the procurement minister (Lord Drayson) "sought confirmation as to whether there is a requirement for a medium weight, armoured patrol vehicle as an alternative to the use of Snatch or tracked armoured vehicles on current operations."

In other words, this was an exchange initiated by the minister, asking the military whether there was a requirement. And, as handwritten note on the top of the page puts it, he got an "unequivocal yes". This is an entirely different scenario from that posited by the newspaper, which gives the impression that the "general", out of the blue, was warning ministers.

The newspaper, interestingly, does not mention this note, but refers to another, an "NB" which tells the minister he can no longer say in the House that there has been no request from commanders for an alternative to the Snatch.

Here, the background is interesting, as this note is being addressed to Drayson who, hitherto, has been up front in taking advice from the Army that the Snatch is fit for purpose. This can be read as an instruction, and you do not have to look very far to work out on whose authority it is written.

But there is then another minute, in reply to this, asking the military to set out by 1600 hrs on 14 July to set out the number of vehicles required and the plans to deliver them by November.

What then transpired, we know, is that by 23 July, buying Mastiffs was a done deal, and the official announcement was made the next day.

But, as to what was going on before Drayson wrote his minute on 5 July, the public record, through the BBC, Mick Smith's blog in The Times and this blog all give adequate testimony to the fact that the Army did not "call" for the Snatch to be replaced until, effectively, ministers asked for a requirement to be put on the record.

How then the Snatch continued in use, even after the military agreed that it use should be re-assessed, is perhaps something Gen Houghton should be asked.


Climategate, Amazongate, Bob Ward and the Murdoch empire

Guest post by Christopher Booker

To the colourful Daily Telegraph blogger James Delingpole, it was winner of the coveted award for the "Biggest front page non-story in history of journalism". What he was referring to was a tale published a week ago under the by-line of The Times's enviromment correspondent Ben Webster which led the paper, covering virtually the entire front-page and with a whole further page inside, beneath the huge headline "Oil giant gives £1 million to fund climate sceptics."

Everything about this story was bizarre. Its essence, based on information which as Webster told us was had been supplied by Bob Ward, policy director of the Grantham Institute on Climate Change, was that Exxon Mobil, the world's largest oil company, last year gave "almost £1 million" to four US think-tanks.

These hired lackeys had then shamefully gone on to describe the various official inquiries into the Climategate emails scandal as "whitewashes", apparently citing them as evidence that the dangers of global warming had been "grossly exaggerated".

The story concluded by suggesting that Exxon Mobil had clearly corrupted these four venal think tanks into giving "the oil company at least another year of freedom to reap the profits of its high-carbon strategy".

The most obvious puzzle was why this remarkably tenuous tale should have been put by The Times on its front page, presumably rating it as the most important news of the day. The evidence assembled by Mr Ward, who had apparently "been monitoring Exxon's links to sceptic groups," hardly seemed to stack up even in its own terms.

One think-tank had apparently received $50,000 last year, another had also received $50,000 - but how all this added up to "almost £1 million" in the past 12 months was far from clear. Furthermore, none of these think-tanks had really been anything but bit-players in the great ongoing row over Climategate.

As is familiar to anyone who has followed the details of that scandal and the various subsequent inquiries, it was hardly necessary for anyone to be given money by Exxon to describe their reports as no more than a blatantly perfunctory "cover up". Their sole purpose was clearly to shower the Climatic Research Unit and the various senior IPCC scientists involved in the incriminating emails with bucket-loads of rather murky whitewash.

Not one of the knowledgable sceptics who have torn those reports apart in detail, led by Steve McIntyre on Climate Audit, has ever received a cent of funding from "Big Oil". And what makes all this particularly laughable is that the penny-packets given to think-tanks which were almost wholly irrelevant to the debate are utterly dwarfed by the colossal sums poured into all the groups and organisations on the other side of the argument.

Even the big oil companies have long since been putting their real money into projects dedicated to showing how they are in favour of a "low carbon economy". In 2002 Exxon gave $100 million to Stanford University to fund research into energy sources needed to fight global warming. BP, which famously rebranded itself in 2004 as "Beyond Petroleum", gave $500 million to fund similar research.

In fact two things made The Times's grotesque overblowing of this story rather much more interesting than many Times readers might have guessed. The first was the fact that the origin of the story was Bob Ward, who has in recent years become familiar to followers of the climate debate as a tireless advocate in the media for warmist alarmism.

Looking raather like a night-club bouncer, though not so polite, Mr Ward seems to have set himself up as a professional attack dog for the cause, harrying anyone who dares publicly to promote scepticism by any means he can find.

He used to work in this capacity for the fanatically warmist Royal Society, in which role, in 2007, he organised a voluminous series of complaints to the regulatory body Ofcom, signed by "37 professors", against Channel 4's documentary The Global Warming Swindle. A year later, after wasting huge quantities of everyone's time, Ofcom failed to uphold any of Ward's complaints.

Since then Mr Ward (pictured top and right) has been employed in a similar capacity by the Grantham Institute on Climate Change at the LSE, where he acts as policy director alongside its chairman Lord Stern. Formerly Sir Nicholas Stern, this ex-Treasury official has, since his famous but much derided 700-page report in 2006, become one of the real high-priests of the warmist religion. And he has made a fortune from touring the world to advise mankind on how to reduce its "carbon footprint".

Since he joined the Grantham Institute, Mr Ward has not only written countless letters to the press and appeared frequently on TV, he has also launched a number of similarly time-wasting complaints to the Press Complaints Commission against articles by climate sceptics such as myself.

I have been the target of two such monster complaints in the past year, each wasting collectively hundreds of man-hours, and on each of which the PCC eventually found it impossible to rule in his favour. Mr Ward was also closely involved in the row which earlier this year much excited the warmist press over a misquotation from Sir John Houghton, one of the founding fathers of the IPCC and one of the doughtiest champions of Michael Mann's now wholly discredited "hockey stick".

Mr Ward's employer, the Grantham Institute, is backed by significantly big money. It was set up in two parts, one under Lord Stern at the LSE, the other run by another committed warmist Sir Brian Hoskins at Imperial College, funded with £24 million from Jeremy Grantham, an investment fund billionaire. Its chief purpose is to advise governments, firms and investment funds on how to promote and invest in ways to "fight climate change" - which is now of course one of the fastest-growing and most lucrative industries in the world.

Even more interesting in terms of its complex relations with the new worldwide climate industry is the vast business empire run by Rupert Murdoch and his son James, owners of the paper which last week published Ward's peculiar story.

If you mention to anyone in North America that the Murdoch empire might these days be moving towards rather active promotion of the warmist cause, they will only laugh, pointing out that, in the US, Fox News and the Wall Street Journal are two of the very few pillars of climate scepticism in America's media establishment.

But at the British end of the Murdoch empire, there have recently been signs that this is far from being the case. For the past two years, for instance, its television arm, Sky, has been teamed up with the world's richest environmental lobby group WWF (income £400 million a year), in a bid to "help combat climate change" by saving the CO2-rich Amazon rainforest.

Then a few weeks back there was that curious episode when the Murdoch Sunday Times published a grovelling correction of a story familiar to reader of this blog which soon made headlines round the world as "Amazongate".

This was the scandalous story, first dug out by the tireless researches of Richard North, of how the IPCC's latest 2007 report had included a shock-horror claim that 40 percent of the Amazon rainforest was under threat from climate change. This had no scientific basis whatever. The only source given for this claim was a WWF propaganda sheet, which in turn had drawn its key sentence from the website of a small Brazilian environmental advocacy group set up by Dr Daniel Nepstad of the Woods Hole Research Center (in turn closely linked to the WWF).

Even though The Sunday Times's report on this aspect of the story back in January was entirely correct (as was recently confirmed by WWF) for some inexplicable reason The Sunday Times agreed, following a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission, to retract its original correct claim about the IPCC.

Rather more shadowy still, however, are the Murdoch family's links with Bill Clinton's Climate Change Initiative. The head of strategy and communications for this influential and lavishly funded body is James Murdoch's wife Kathryn.

The "Climate Initiative" is in turn part of the William J. Clinton Foundation, fast-becoming one of the richest foundations in the world. It is supported to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars by the likes of Bill Gates of Microsoft. Thanks not least to its involvement with climate change, it likes to boast that it has recently been named as one of the world's "Top 10 Green NGOs".

Both Rupert Murdoch and his son are listed as among the Clinton Foundation's leading donors. Rupert, along with Barbra Streisand, was one of the three sponsors of a project to reduce the "carbon footprint" of 20 major cities.

And Mrs Murdoch's Climate Initiative, as can be seen from its website, is involved in co-ordinating and arranging finance for a whole string of "climate-related" projects, potentially worth billions of dollars, from building vast solar energy parks in countries such as India to developing schemes for "carbon capture and storage".

Another of the Climate Initiative's major projects is to find ways of turning the CO2 locked up in forests into "carbon credits", which can then be sold on the world market at a large profit. In this potentially lucrative enterprise it is teamed up with, among others, the Woods Hole Research Center. As was first revealed on this blog, this is the body which, along with WWF, is involved in a scheme to turn the vast Amazon rainforest into carbon credits, under the UN's REDD scheme (Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation).

Also backed by the World Bank, they hope to get finally approval for this sheme at the UN's Cancun climate conference later this year, According to a formula worked out by Woods Hole's Dr Nepstad, they reckon that turning the world's rainforests into carbon credits could generate in all some $60 billion, by selling the right to offset the CO2 contained in the forest's trees against that emitted by firms in the developed world.

The Murdoch newspapers may of course be perfectly entitled to champion a cause in which their proprietors so fervently believe. But when it comes to comparing the piddling sums in funding received by a handful of sceptical think-tanks to the oceans of cash poured into the other side of the climate debate, there is no contest.

How The Times's front-page headline might rather more relevantly have been re-worded was "Governments, foundations, multi-national corporations including the owners of this newspaper and Big Oil give hundreds of billions of pounds to promote worldwide climate bonanza." But doubtless The Times's editors would have ruled that this was too long for their front page.


It goes on

A British soldier has been killed in a blast in southern Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence announced Tuesday, bringing the country's death toll to 325 since operations began there in 2001. The soldier from 36 Engineer Regiment was working with a team searching for roadside bombs when he was killed in an explosion on Monday in the Sangin area of Helmand province.

"He was part of a search team that was involved in an operation to provide security in Sangin District when tragically he was killed in an explosion," said military spokesman Lt Col James Carr-Smith. And, as always, we get the ritual words, cut and pasted straight from the MoD template: "His sacrifice will not be forgotten. We will remember him" ... just like we remember The Few (scroll to the bottom).

How many more bomb disposal officers are they going to kill before we get the correct equipment? And how long will it take for the media to realise that these people are being sent out to their deaths because, once again, the military have got it wrong?

This is like sending turret fighters in the Battle of Britain up against single-seaters, even though they were not up to the job - which we did. Or sending unescorted bombers on daylight raids deep into enemy territory, even though we were daily slaughtering Luftwaffe bombers, despite their escorts. We did that as well.

Or it is like sending pilots to fight over the Channel, with no dedicated air-sea rescue service to pull them out when they ditched. That couldn't happen, of course – except that it did. The impressive, high-speed launch pictured above looks ever so good ... but it did not come into service until 1941, AFTER the Battle of Britain.

The RAF got some launches then only because the South African Air Force had had the foresight to order them in 1939, and the British government took over the order. In the meantime, as the winter in 1940 approached, it requisitioned civilian lifeboats, leaving the merchant seamen to go without cover.

As we fast-forward to Snatch Land Rovers and soldiers in Basra sleeping in tents while their quarters were mortared, we see that nothing really changes - not even the naïve belief that the military looks after its own and actually cares whether its people live or die. As for civilians ... they matter even less.


Wider not deeper

The mantra within what passes for the brain of your average "one nation" Tory like "Call me Dave" (who isn't a Tory at all really), is that the EU is a GOOD THING for trade.

All that nasty stuff about European integration that those continentals rabbit on about can be sorted by continued enlargement. This dilutes the rule of Brussels and allows the classic British stratagem of "divide and rule" to apply, over which the mandarins from Whitehall can benignly exercise their arts.

Being a "one nation" Tory also means that there are not enough brain cells to carry two ideas simultaneously, which means that the species goes around bleating "wider not deeper", as the answer to all things EU.

Needless to say, they remain sublimely oblivious to the fact that the last round of enlargement with those Eastern European Johnnies went wider and deeper. Enlargement thus remains the cure for all ills.

It is in that context that we must understand the latest exudation from The Boy. He is to urge the EU to drop the anti-Muslim "prejudice" against Turkey, which he says is blocking Turkey's membership.

It is not that the man is stupid, or even so detached from reality that we have difficulty believing he is on the same planet. Neither is the case. The real explanation is that he is a "one nation" Tory. This transcends stupidity.

Generations of inbreeding, combined with careful nurture within a microcosmic society which dictates the one permitted strain of thought of which the breed is capable, means that the likes of "Call me Dave" must come out with this tosh. It is the only thing for which he is programmed. It really is not capable of anything else.

Were he an animal, societies like the Kennel Club would intervene, and we would have pity on the poor creatures. But it is our great tragedy that the "one nation" Tories believe that they have an inalienable right to rule the planet. It is our even greater tragedy that so many of our fellow British are stupid enough to believe that they should. That is where the stupidity lies.

However, our fortune here is that enough people will judge The Boy's exudation as stupid (which it is not: see above) - so stupid as to be unbelievably crass. And, by and large, having had just as much of the "religion of peace" as they can swallow, they will most likely regard the call for greater tolerance as somewhat inappropriate.

Even more fortunately, many people will interpret this as a political death wish on the part of The Boy. And many, many more will now be willing to oblige him, and see that he gets his wish.


Not harder - impossible

I did discuss the Wikileaks memos with a number of people yesterday, as to whether I should do an analysis. But, scanning the diverse reports, one can only conclude that the papers offer something new, in principle, only to those who have not already been paying attention.

Thus, the main effect of the "stolen" memos is to give the anti-war media – which accounts for most of the media these days – an opportunity to ramp up the rhetoric which, in the not too distant future, will have us out of there.

Certainly, my attitude to the war changed, gradually over time. Our original stance was supportive, but taking the view that we should either do things well, or not at all. The emphasis, therefore, was on exploring what might be done or should be done, to help us prevail.

By this time last year, short of a couple of weeks, it became clear that nothing we are doing or can do will have the desired effects. Our politicians and military are living in a fantasy world, the only escape from which is to pull out our troops entirely.

Once that Rubicon is crossed, there is no going back. There can be no real debate or discussion as, to borrow from the warmists' litany, this is "settled science". The Wikileaks memos cannot change the minds of those whose minds are already made up, and determined that we should leave, so the net impact on us is nil. We have already bought the proposition.

But, if the "leaks" make the lives of politicians that little bit harder, that is a good thing, especially if it brings us closer to the day where we stop wasting lives and money on a futile endeavour.

Patrick Cockburn in The Independent says that the battle to justify this as a war worth fighting "just got a lot harder." He's dead wrong there. It didn't just get harder. It just got impossible. The sooner we all recognise that, the sooner our troops can go home.


Monday, July 26, 2010

Day 17 - Battle of Britain

This Friday, 70 years ago, low dark cloud and heavy rain all over Britain made any flying if not impossible, certainly more than usually difficult and dangerous. But still the Luftwaffe came.

As before, the convoys took their attention, with shipping south of the Isle of Wight providing a meaty target. Hurricanes from No. 601 Sqn were sent up to deal with the intruders, shooting down two bombers, at a cost of one of their own.

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Conspiracy in plain sight

For those who want an insight into what our masters are thinking, they need go no further than this 218-page document produced by the OECD.

Although it is now nine years old, writ large here is the tranzi agenda, in plain sight, for anyone who wants to see it. There are no secrets. It is a "conspiracy in plain sight".

Three main messages emerge, we are told. Firstly, "old forms of governance in both the public and private sectors are becoming increasingly ineffective." Secondly, "the new forms of governance that are likely to be needed over the next few decades will involve a much broader range of active players." Thirdly, key attributes of today's governance systems "look set to undergo fundamental changes."

This is a silent revolution in the making. We know nothing – or little – about it, but largely because the majority of people are not interested. From the very top to the bottom of this land, there are very few people who are in the least bit concerned about how we are governed.

So it is that those who are interested, mainly because they are paid to be or because they stand to benefit hugely from the changes, have the field to themselves, writing arcane 218-page reports that only a handful of people will ever read cover to cover.

But when the revolution comes, they can quite honestly say that they warned us, that their discussions were out in the open, accessible to all who wanted to participate. By the same token, however, we can also say, when the mobs rule the streets, that we too warned them. But no more do they read our stuff than we read theirs. So, as always, events will take their course.


Stolen files?

Big news of the day is how "a huge cache of secret US military files" provides a "devastating portrait of the failing war in Afghanistan". They have been obtained by the "whistleblowers' website" Wikileaks in what is described as "one of the biggest leaks in US military history."

The files have been made available to The Guardian, The New York Times and the German weekly Der Spiegel, with The Guardian in particular, pushing the boat out, running multiple stories and linking to the files.

But do we see here, or in The Independent, or even in The Daily Telegraph - which also features the files – any suggestion that they are stolen?

Largely, is seems they have been "revealed" or "leaked" and the contents "disclosed". But nowhere do I see the word "stolen" – so far. How so very different this is, then, from the treatment of the "Climategate" files, which had the media, and especially the left wing press, spluttering in its muesli.

We even had The Times report that: "UN officials have likened the theft of e-mails from university climate researchers to the Watergate scandal, " and that was after them claiming that "computer hackers were probably paid by people intent on undermining the Copenhagen summit."

Thus, whatever the merits or otherwise of "release" of the "war logs", as The Guardian is calling them, the difference in treatment is quite remarkable. Some might even call it hypocrisy.


In Europe and ruled by Europe

To all those happy, gullible little bunnies who were so convinced that "Call me Dave" was a eurosceptic, and just needed to be given a chance, there is only one word – schmuck. We could use other words, but that conveys the sentiment.

Our Dave never was a eurosceptic, is not now and never will be. A typical Tory, he runs with the hare and the hounds but, in the end, goes with the "colleagues" for an easy life. Voting Tory was never going to make the slightest bit of difference.

As so its turns out to be. In The Daily Mail today, we get the headline: "European police to spy on Britons: Now ministers hand over Big Brother powers to foreign officers."

Sadly, what the paper says (this time) is true – or close enough to the truth as to make no difference. Ministers are ready to hand sweeping Big Brother powers to EU states so they can spy on British citizens. Foreign police will be able to travel to the UK and take part in the arrest of Britons.

They will, says The Mail, be able to place them under surveillance, bug telephone conversations, monitor bank accounts and demand fingerprints, DNA or blood samples. Anyone who refuses to comply with a formal request for co-operation by a foreign-based force is likely to be arrested by UK officers.

The move, we are told, will spark a damaging row with backbench Tory MPs opposed to giving such draconian powers to Brussels. And, for the "money quote", the Tories were opposed to the directive in opposition, saying it showed a "relish for surveillance and disdain for civil liberties." But hey! Now they are in what is laughingly called "in power", ministers have made a dramatic U-turn and are agreeing this latest move from Brussels.

Perversely, this is all about the "Hague Programme" – which is rather appropriate, given the dismal excuse we have for a foreign secretary. We used to warn about this quite frequently, until we gave up because no one took a blind bit of notice. But now we have the Tories back again, we can look forward to another leap forward in European integration, just as we do every time we have a Tory government.

There is, I spose, one small comfort. We will hear less from those brain-dead retards who were telling us that The Boy was a eurosceptic. But it is a very small comfort.


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Day 16 - Battle of Britain

Seventy years ago, it is a Thursday not a Sunday. And the weather, instead of being gloomy and overcast, is fine. It is still cool for the time of year but winds are expected to be light. Heavier cloud is expected by evening with the possibility of rainy periods.

German Stukas are out early, attacking the 21-ship convoy CW8 working its way through the Dover Straits. But this time, the attacks are augmented by E-boat forays. To add to their misery, the ships are pounded by newly installed heavy guns from the French mainland. Five ships are sunk and five more damaged, with more to follow in the early hours, as the action continues into the next day.

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The march of progress

If I stood up, in all seriousness, and said that the moon was made of green cheese, my readers – I hope – might look a little bit askance at me, and conclude, as many already have, that I have finally lost it.

Yet, when we get ministers making assertions of the same order of impossibility, it now seems that the role of the media is diligently to record such exudations, affording inane jabbering more respect and credibility than it could possibly deserve.

Such was the case in June last year when Labour minister Lord Hunt got up on his hind feet (an impressive achievement for him), to pour out a stream of drivel, only to have the media uncritically to record his nonsense, as if it had any more value than the stuff you scrape off the sole of your shoe.

Yet, just over a year later, we have The Sunday Telegraph at it again – different minister, same drivel.

This time, it is that slime Huhne, a detestable example of a human being if ever there was one, a man who can actually state that offshore wind turbines are "incredibly competitive" in producing electricity, and have a newspaper print it, without the equivalent of a snort of derision.

The story is actually on the front page, but if you had journalists and editors worthy of their name (and pay), their front-page headline would be: "Minister claims offshore wind 'incredibly competitive'", with a list of worthies saying it isn't, the thrust of the story being that any energy minister who came out with such tosh is not fit for office.

And that really is the story. In such a vital issue as the national electricity supply, we really do have an energy minister who is not fit for office, backed by a man masquerading as prime minister whose only qualification is that he is similarly unfit.

Yet, far from a newspaper actually saying so, we get this unmitigated tripe regurgitated from the mouth of Huhne: "We have a tremendous natural resource in the Dogger Bank, which is an enormous shallow area of the North Sea, the same size as Wales ... It's relatively cheap to put wind turbines in that shallow area. It's beautifully windy so it does actually produce a lot of electricity – that is a really important natural resource for us."

This really, really is garbage, and we've said so many times. Offshore is hideously expensive and, while the North Sea may be shallow, the winter storms there are amongst the most vicious and cruel on the planet ... in part because of the shallowness of the water.

That alone makes for huge expense, and raises enormous questions about maintenance and durability, none of which have been addressed, much less answered. Yet, to base your energy policy on wind machines in these waters – in preference to nuclear, as Huhne is doing – is madness. No, it is beyond madness. It is insane, and it is about time the media started saying it, loud and clear.

But what do we get from The Sunday Drivel? Er ... an editorial telling us that "nuclear power must not be the poor relation", and offering the view that "the exploitation of renewable sources such as wind, wave and solar power is undoubtedly sensible."

For "sensible" read "suicidal", and you are close. But in those two words, you also see the progression of the media from what it once was to what it has become. That is the march of progress. The only difference now between newspapers and ministers is that you can burn newspapers to keep warm.

And this must be part of the reason why, these days, the media has nothing to say to us. These days I look at the newspapers more with amazement than interest, marvelling at how they are able to fill so much space with material of such little consequence. But, as a source of information, increasingly one is forced to look elsewhere.



"Ever more risibly desperate become the efforts of the believers in global warming to hold the line for their religion, after the battering it was given last winter by all those scandals surrounding the UN's IPCC." So writes Booker in his column which, to some, may seem curiously flat when it comes to naming names.

The column is thus the first instalment for the day. We expect to publish a guest post here, from Booker, later today.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Northing cn goe wring

I am not sure whether to be mortified or reassured by this report of an interview with a "cabin crew insider." It goes like this:
There have been moments where I've thought, thank God the passengers can't see us now, like the time I was sitting by a swimming pool in Cyprus at 5am, drinking martinis and watching our drunken flight captain flirting with a girl, and thinking, "He's got to fly a plane in less than four hours' time." Still, he was flying Airbus, which means they hardly have to do a thing – the computer almost lands it for them.
They said of the factories of the future that they would end up employing only a man and a dog each. The man would sweep the floor – the dog was there to stop him touching any of the buttons. And so it will be when we see pilots walk into the cockpit with a dog. Then, nothing can go wring.


Day 15 - Battle of Britain

This Wednesday seventy years ago, there is light cloud over Channel with rain in most other areas. Visibility is poor in the west.

The war started at 0630hrs when a hostile aircraft appeared over Glasgow and bombed the Hillingdon district. A printing works was seriously damaged. Some windows of the Rolls Royce factory were broken and a few minor casualties were reported. This aircraft was intercepted and it is reported that the rear gunner was killed and one engine put out of action. The enemy aircraft dived into clouds and was lost but it is doubtful if it will reach home.

At 0755hrs, an enemy formation was detected coming in from the German coast and heading towards a convoy in the Thames Estuary. No. 54 Sqn Spitfires from Hornchurch, currently using Rochford, are scrambled to make an interception. No. 64 Squadron Kenley (Spitfires) also intercepted. No German aircraft are shot down.

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Taken for fools

As one of the "baby bulge" children, I am of a generation that missed the war, but it is still very close and very real. As a child, much of my time was spent exploring bomb sites, old bomb shelters, pill boxes and the paraphernalia of war.

Churchill was still alive when I was born, he was to have a spell as prime minister as I grew up, and I was one of the hundreds of thousands who filed past his coffin when he died and watched his funeral (pictured). You really did then have a sense that a moment in history had passed.

With that, the war is part of my make-up and that of my peers. It shaped my generation and gave us much of our "world view", defined who we were and how we felt about ourselves. And within that period of the war, there is that very special Battle of Britain. It may not mean as much to the current generation – especially as history teaching is so poor – but it really does have a very, very strong influence.

It was about our parents, and the British nation, which stood up against the forces of evil. We, us and the Commonwealth and Empire, held the line and good prevailed. The Battle of Britain had a certain innocence and purity about it. It made you feel good about yourself because you were British, it was a British achievement and it was part of your heritage.

Perhaps, therefore, I should have stopped with the myth, and not looked too closely at the detail. For sure, I've read many of the books, seen the films such as "Reach for the Sky", watched the old newsreels and seen no end of documentaries. But look closer and much of the myth does not stand up to scrutiny.

That much should hardly come as a surprise – myths very rarely do. But what has been conveyed is a nation at war, protected by a Royal Air Force that was focused and, where it mattered, efficient yet humanitarian.

The closer one looks, though, the less efficient and – particularly – the less humanitarian the RAF begins to look. We are, for instance, more or less familiar with the decision in 1940 to shoot down German air-sea rescue aircraft, painted white and bearing red crosses. This is rehearsed in some detail by Robert Fisk and in this case one has to agree with him. The British were wrong to shoot them down.

Although the type used for rescues – the Heinkel 59 – was operated by the Luftwaffe, armed and camouflaged, the aircraft bearing red crosses were genuine "air ambulances". They were adapted and equipped for humanitarian missions and, cruicially, operated by a civilian search and rescue organisation, the Seenotdienst.

The Germans, in this case, played it absolutely straight, rescuing friend and enemy alike. Through the war, the unit saved 11,561 personnel from the sea – 7,746 Germans and 3,815 enemy – losing 278 of their own, with 114 missing.

But, if you can tolerate that, in the interests of our own survival, we broke international law, what is totally baffling is that, while we were shooting down German air-sea rescue aircraft which were saving our own airmen, we had no equivalent (or any) rescue provision of our own.

Thus, while the RAF was struggling to find enough pilots to man its aircraft, this fascinating report points out that "the absence of an effective SAR capability aggravated the situation since the downing of an aircraft in the Channel or North Sea usually meant the loss of its aircrew."

Here, it is not just the lack of concern over the humanitarian issue that offends. It is the utter stupidity of failing to value a scarce and, at the time, irreplaceable asset, upon which – as legend would have it – the fate of the nation rested. If we were so short of pilots, then it was criminal stupidity to allow them to drown when they were shot down over the sea, for want of a rescue service.

But, if this was 70 years ago, the sentiment – and the stupidity – has not changed. Still, as we saw with the "Snatch" Land Rover debacle and many other equipment issues besides, the State continues to be careless about putting lives at risk. And it still fails to take the most obvious and cost-effective measures to safeguard them.

What is perhaps the greater offence, though, is the legions of historians, analysts and writers who have so diligently and at such great length recorded the history of the Battle of Britain. Precious few mention this egregious failure and even Deighton gives it just one paragraph. "The fighting over the sea," he writes, "was an added worry for Dowding for, unlike the Luftwaffe, his pilots had no dinghies, no sea dye and no air-sea rescue organisation."

Patrick Bishop, on the other hand, repeats the canard that the ambulance aircraft were armed – they were not – and that they had been observed carrying out reconnaissance tasks. They had not.

As with the media, historians and others hold past events up to scrutiny, so that we might learn from them. In the absence of that scrutiny, we do not learn. And the lesson that we have not learned, sufficiently at least, is that even when its survival is dependent on it, the State will still throw your life away, for no reason than its own stupidity.

That we have been allowed the impression that, all those many years ago, the State knew what it was doing, and actually cared for those to whom it owed so much, is to have taken us for fools. More to the point, perhaps, we have allowed ourselves to be taken for fools. But the lesson is still there to learn. The State is not your friend. And, if you let it, it will kill you.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Day 14 - Battle of Britain

The weather early on this Tuesday yielded a slight haze in the Straits of Dover. Winds remained light in the Channel. It was showery with bright intervals in most other areas.

The Luftwaffe concentrated its attacks on a convoy codenamed "Pilot" which was steaming off the Lincolnshire coast. Two raiders were shot down by fighters. In the mid-afternoon, a lone Dornier dropped bombs on the old airship hanger at at Pulham and another attempted to bomb the Vickers Armstrong aircraft factory at Weighbridge, taking advantage of low cloud. Its bombs fell on the edge of the landing strip, missing the factory.

Pity the causal researcher though ...

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Stuffed, stuffed, stuffed

If ever there was a necessary state intervention, it was the loan agreed by a dying Labour government to Forgemasters to finance the production of components for nuclear power stations – of which there is a worldwide shortage of capacity.

Yet, one of the first things the Clegerons did was cancel the loan – and on grounds that now look very dubious indeed, if The Guardian and the rest of the media have got the details right.

With accusations of sleaze in the air, we are looking at an administration which is on track to be just as vile and disreputable as its predecessor, only in a fraction of the time, especially with that sleazebag Huhne being accused of messing up the loan – possibly deliberately (8 minutes into the video).

The current row follows on from a report by KPMG which tells us that without more direct support from the government, it is still uneconomic for utility companies to invest billions of pounds in nuclear power.

The view is that it is unlikely that the new generation of nuclear plants will actually get built – something which has been evident for some time – simply though noting the lack of news or actual progress. As the timetable slides, and as we see the Forgemaster loan go down the tubes, there is only one conclusion – we are stuffed, stuffed, stuffed.

The Chinese, who recently reported commissioning their first fourth generation plant, and has unveiled plans to increase its 9.1 gigawatts of nuclear power to 40 gigawatts by 2020, must be lost in amazement at the willingness of British politicians to commit economic (and political) suicide.

Our expectations of the previous administration were always low, but there are some who actually expected more of the present incumbents. But it seems to be a general rule of thumb when assessing governments that, just when you think things have got as bad as it is possible for them to be ... they get worse.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Day 13 - Battle of Britain

After a weekend of indifferent weather, the Straits of Dover for this Monday was set fair. The rest of the Channel was generally cloudy, with light westerly winds. There were bright intervals between showers in the east.

Readers of The Daily Telegraph were treated to headlines telling them of 24 "Nazi Raiders" shot down over the weekend. But this was to be a day when daylight activity was light, with only sporadic reconnaissance flights, occasional ineffective attacks on shipping and nuisance raids. Typical of this activity was at about 1145 hours when a Ju88 penetrated to Bristol and Cardiff and then Penarth, dropping bombs at the locations. The aircraft was intercepted and the rear gunner is believed to have been killed. The aircraft escaped across the south coast.

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Missing in action

The nation's favourite newspaper is having a tee-hee moment about the misuse of photoshop by BP. Photoshop, it then says, has been used to commit "some outrageous crimes against fact-based photography," offering us some more examples.

Of a certain crime against fact-based photography committed by a certain Adnan Hajj, however, there is no mention at all. Curiously, reference to the controversy is completely missing. One wonders whether this could be because it was a crime – one of many – in which the newspapers were complicit, carried out as it was by one of their own, the Reuters press agency.

And, while the newspaper is devoting considerable space to slagging off BP over this misdemeanour, one cannot recall it being so strident way back in 2006, even if its then picture editor was on the case. It is thus sometimes very hard to avoid walking away with the idea that double standards are being exhibited by the media


No news is the news

Many times in this blog we have noted that the real news is the stuff not being published by the MSM. Now, on the "climate change" front, that has never been more true. The silence speaks volumes.

That particular silence is the one that attends the publication of the Booker column on 11 July, revealing to the world that the IPCC did after all have feet of clay in its claims on the Amazon, with the source of "Amazongate" finally traced to a Brazilian website.

When you get an "exclusive" like that – especially as the original Amazongate story was rather high profile – other newspapers and news agencies tend to pile in and lift the story. This time, though, with only very few exceptions, there has been silence.

One of those exceptions was Lawrence Solomon in The National Post, who saw in the revelations the first test of the IPCC in a new post-Climategate era of openness and accountability that many seemed to be talking about. This, however, was even then a forlorn hope. The retraction on 20 June by The Sunday Times of its Amazongate story had already been hailed as a major victory by the warmists, who were set on exploiting it.

Something of this can be seen from the WWF press release which had Keith Allott, head of climate change (there's glory for you) declaring that it " ... hopefully indicates that after a period of some hysteria, balance and consideration is being restored to the media's reporting of climate science."

In fact, there was more expectation than hope. Led by the WWF, the warmists embarked on a sharply focused campaign against many of the newspapers which had written about Amazongate, demanding that they followed The Sunday Times lead and retracted their own stories.

Under this pressure, not a few editors were beginning to wilt, especially as there were hints of further PCC references. Booker's story, therefore, could not have come at a worse time. Although no newspapers have yet followed suit, it was noted and, at the very least, stopped the rot. No other newspaper has retracted its story.

Quite how finely poised the pendulum is now can be seen by the continuing silence. At the beginning of this week, a major international newspaper was to have published a piece calling for the retraction of The Sunday Times retraction, but internal politics have kept it off the pages so far.

And, while The Guardian and others were quick to publish news of Simon Lewis's complaint to the PCC, which triggered the ST retraction, none of the papers which so prominently announced this development have announced the complaint to the PCC about the retraction, a complaint which has now been formally accepted and is being investigated.

Interestingly, the silence also comes at a time when not only has the IPCC case on the Amazon been trashed but also, on the eve of the publication of a new tranche of research papers which seriously undermine the doom-laden scenarios promulgated by the warmists.

Just one of those, in the coming edition of New Phytologist, puts loss of the forest at a mere six percent. This is a paper by Marina Hirota et al on "The climatic sensitivity of the forest, savanna and forest–savanna transition in tropical South America." With this, the re-evaluation of earlier papers and the emergence of some which have been little-cited, the warmists' case has never been weaker. This makes the silence even more deafening,