Sunday, 30 December 2012

Man Knighted for being 'Asleep at the wheel'.

Eyebrows were raised when a man was awarded a knighthood despite being accused of being 'asleep at the wheel' by the Treasury Select Committee chairman John McFall as the UK fell over the fiscal cliff.

Sir Hector Sants was in charge of the Financial Services Authority when RBS, HBOS, Northern Rock, Bradford & Bingley, Alliance & Leicester and Dunfermline Building Society all failed leaving the UK taxpayers to pick up the tab.

In mitigation, Sir Hector said that the FSA was generally powerless and in the case of RBS it wasn't able to prevent them from buying ABN Amro for £40Bn which hastened the collapse of the bank. The Dutch bank ABN Amro turned out to be pretty much worthless. He also told the Treasury Select Committee inquiry that he personally ordered RBS’s former chief executive Fred Goodwin to raise fresh capital via a rights issue in order to help stave off the collapse. The £12Bn the bank raised from institutional and retail investors was almost entirely lost since the bank was bust five months later.

Sir Hector joined the FSA in 2004 and said "insider trading and market abuse have been top of his hit list" and he "introduced a more "pro-active" approach to regulation".

Despite being a 'powerless and ineffective institution' the pay at the FSA was excellent at £807,000 per year for Sir Hector.

Sir Hector won't be running the new 'Prudential Regulatory Authority' which will take over control from the FSA next year. He is moving to Barclays in January on a £3m package as Head of Compliance and Regulation. Sir Hector stepped down from the FSA in June this year in the same month the FSA fined Barclays £59.5m for manipulating the interbank borrowing rate (Libor).

UK declared debt has more than doubled under the leadership of Sir Hector and is reaching 100% of our GDP at over £1trillion pounds. Hidden debt ( PFI, public sector pensions, bank underwriting etc), is thought to be between £4trillion and £7trillion but may be higher.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

First Minister's Christmas message.

BBC Scotland didn't have a spare 3 minutes to show the First Minister of Scotland's Christmas message so here it is......

The Christmas tv schedule was even more rank than usual this year. The same old rubbish with 'Christmas special' tagged on the end to make them sound special.

Paul O' Grady with some Christmas dogs. Some ancient 'Carry on' films and the usual chat shows with the associated mad screaming and clapping at every nuance or movement or amazing utterance from the man on £1m a year. The guests were the usual suspects. Lefty comedians ready to slag off the Tories and Boris as they drift from chat show to comedy panel show. Who is 'Miranda' and where did she come from and why do people watch that guff ? You could grab someone off the street to write the sketches for these 'comedy' shows and they would do a better and less predictable sketch.

'Outnumbered', the middle class family BBC sit com managed to outnumber the jokes with cliche's.

Their 'Christmas special' was a party in their house where everything predictable happened.

The chief butt of jokes was a creepy UKIP supporter who was a closet racist and didn't know everyone laughed at him and deserved everything that was coming to him. His wife was committing adultery with another woman . What fun they had with their nemesis.

We had lying policemen and kids doing online gambling ( it's ok because she made money and it's only the underclass who do online gambling badly...watch out for our Panorama New Year 'special' on the poor and how online gambling is ruining their lives.)

Someone with mental health issues. But he can be mocked...it's the BBC here for goodness sake....we can be funny about these things....heck loosen up it's Christmas. But woe betide anyone we don't like trying it though.

Oh and this is the funniest .....someone eats too much trifle........and is sick LOL. That's 'laugh out loud'. Definitely not 'lots of love'. No quarter asked for or given when the not so subtle brainwashing is being done.

To get an insight into the mindset of a monolith like the BBC you just have to watch one of their 'comedy shows'. They all follow exactly the same theme.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Making it up as they go along. Fibs being told about the European Free Trade Association.

From the BBC

"Norway's foreign minister has urged the UK to assess the advantages of staying in the European Union, rather than consider leaving.

Norway is not in the EU but has access to the single market [ via the EFTA/EEA]. UK Eurosceptics use it as a model for how the UK could relate to the EU from outside.

But Foreign Minister Espen Eide said Oslo had "limited scope for influence".

"We are not at the table when decisions are made" he told Radio 4's The World This Weekend.

Mr Eide is pro-EU, though Norwegian voters have twice rejected the chance to join the EU in referendums in 1972 and 1994.

Sir Nigel Sheinwald, a former UK ambassador to the US and to the European Union, said: "The issue is - do you want to be part of the single market? All the economic indicators are that the UK needs to be. "But [... the Norwegians] have no role in negotiations. They have no impact, no influence and there's no accountability. So this is regulation without representation"

The truth of course is that Norway does have influence in the EU (as the picture above shows and seen in this pdf document) with it's membership of the EFTA ( European Free Trade Association) and that the UK could operate better outside of the EU but with access and influence in the single market.

EFTA statement..

"One of the ways in which the EEA EFTA States participate in shaping EC legislation, i.e. when the Commission is drawing up legislative proposals, is by submitting comments on important policy issues. The comments are elaborated by working groups, cleared by the relevant subcommittees, endorsed by the Standing Committee and officially noted by the Joint Committee after they have been sent to the relevant services in the Commission and the European Parliament. "

EFTA countries 20th Anniversary..

"The European Community's plan to complete the Internal Market by removing all barriers to the free movement of goods, services, capital and persons inspired seven Member States of the European Free Trade Association to join forces with the EC to work towards this common goal.

On 2 May 1992, after more than two years of negotiations, the Agreement on the European Economic Area was signed in Porto, Portugal, by the European Community and its 12 Member States, together with the EFTA States.

The EEA is a dynamic and unique integration agreement, which today brings together 30 states in a single market which is constantly evolving. The EEA Agreement has served both the EU and the EFTA States well and has proven to be a durable instrument of economic integration."

Getting out of the EU would save on our contribution to the £4.5Bn a year in wages alone..

From Hansard.....

EU: Salaries

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

"To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of the total salary bill of the European Commission and other EU institutions; and of the level and total amount of personal taxation levied on those salaries.[HL3798]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): EU institutions' staff members are not subject to national income tax. Instead, salaries paid by the Commission to its officials are subject to a community tax which is paid directly back into the EU's budget. An additional levy is also in place for EU officials. These taxes result in around €700 million in revenue for the EU budget each year. The total salary bill of the European Commission and other EU institutions totals €4.5 billion every year.

I wonder why the BBC are repeating these fibs about the EFTA ? Hasn't Lord leveson asked broadcasters and the media in general to get their houses in order ?

Scotland would be in an excellent position, post Independence, to negotiate with the EFTA and take our place as an in independent country outwith the EU but as friends and trading partners with our European neighbours.

H/T to EUreferendum for highlighting the fibs

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Drought warnings cancelled.

Phew. Experts have amended their forecast that drought " could last beyond Christmas "

The England and Wales Environment Agency report from April 2012 warned..."A longer term drought, lasting until Christmas and perhaps beyond, now looks more likely – and we are working with businesses, farmers and water companies to plan ahead to meet the challenges of a continued drought."

Yesterday's Environment Agency report "Flooding forecast for festive get-away" said..."People in Southern and south western England, south Wales, the Midlands and the north east of England are being urged to remain prepared for flooding over the weekend. There are currently 68 flood warnings and 244 flood alerts in force across England and Wales. "

Despite warning of catastrophic global warming by the end of the century the experts can't even forecast the weather just months in advance. This hasn't stopped them from signing us all up to the 'renewables revolution' that will make energy a luxury that the poor can no longer afford. A bonanza for land owners but a disaster for the rest of us.

So we will go on building inefficient wind farms and destroying our landscape....

"Otherwise we end up with no energy supply and go back to living in caves. "You may be happy to live in a cave but think of your children and grandchildren and future generations. "Surely you do not want them living in caves with wood fires? So even if you do not like wind farms yourself, please do think about future generations. Yours sincerely John [Mason. MSP. Deputy Convener of the Finance Committee. Chartered Accountant and former grammar school boy]."

Quite a scary statement. The opposite is actually true. Wind farms are too inefficient to produce sufficient electricity for the mass market. They only operate with 100% back up from conventional power stations. Their load factors are only about 20% ( actual average output over a year compared to the maximum output written on the tin). Steadily dropping over their short lifespan. They need major refurbishment after 7 to 10 years so will most likely be left to rot as in other countries in the world. After 10 years their output will have fallen by a third. The offshore ones are even worse with undersea currents making their bases unstable and their useable lifespan even worse than onshore wind farms and costing up to four times as much to build and operate.

Being part of the UK and therefore part of the DECC ( Dept of Energy and Climate Change) helps to share the burden of ROC's ( renewable obligation certificate payments) to wind farms. This is helpful with Scotland having 60% of the UK onshore windmills. Unfortunately we will have to shoulder the whole burden post independence. The most recent estimates of Scottish ROC payments are £2Bn annually by 2020. This figure assumes that only half of the current Scottish wind farm applications are approved and the load factor is 27%. So the real figure will probably be higher. Especially if the "100% renewable revolution" is achieved. For Scotland's 2.4 million households it works out at £300 a year per household for the conservative estimates.

So Mr Mason's statement is back to front. We came out of caves and have progressed steadily. Using our amazing brains to develop technologies that make life easier and safer.

Windmills are taking us backwards to an era where we survived on our wits and strength to stay warm and feed ourselves and our families. The wealthy will be immune from the march of the windmills and many will make good money from them. Whether the wind blows or it's a dead calm. But the poor and weak will freeze and starve.

Just like in the cave man days.....

UPDATE : My friendly sparring partner 'cynical' alerted me to the fact that new wind power capacity was outstripping new gas power generating capacity in the US. I pointed out that this was due to a rush to beat the subsidy deadline.

The real story of course is that the quoted new wind power generating capacity in the US ( 6.5GW) is misleading. You can divide this by 4 as the load factor will be 25% at the most. Whenever you see a windfarm quoting it's output figures a good rule of thumb is to divide by 4 and ask how much the land owner is getting.

Then you must factor in the 100% back up from conventional power when it's not windy. Plus the constant back up on permanent stand by ( very inefficient). Then the upgrade to the grid to compensate for the intermittent output from wind power. Then the payments to land owners etc.

And of course the devastation to the environment, wildlife and amenity for local home owners.

A 'green' windmill foundation..

A 'green' mine in China digging for rare earths for the windmill gear box.

Windmills can kill things 24/7. Infra red camera sees them killing bats here.

Of course their favourite food is still birds..

Windmills make sense if the plan is to force us all to use power when only 'green' energy is available. Talk of "smart meters and dynamic power management" will enable our power to be controlled from a central location and maybe we should no longer expect to have power at the touch of a button. For our own good of course.

It's back to those cavemen again...

Friday, 21 December 2012

24 years since Lockerbie.

It's hard to believe that 24 years have passed since the Pan Am jet blew up over Lockerbie in 1988. Excited passengers flying home to the US for Christmas and people on the ground in Lockerbie going about their daily lives. Then devastation

I can still remember the night as I was walking across to my neighbour's house to deliver their Christmas card and he called me in to show me the reports on tv. We thought it was a tragic accident and wondered how it could have happened. The weather seemed ok. Just cold and dark. Later reports mentioned a bomb and fingers were pointed at Syria or Iran who were accused of carrying out the bombing in revenge for the downing of an Iranian passenger jet by the US Navy. But then the blame swung towards Libya. And the rest is history. A myriad of blogs and theories as to the real culprits abound but I expect it will never be settled without a new inquiry that looks at all the new evidence.

The ousting of Gaddafi from Libya was expected to reveal more evidence but nothing has been forthcoming. The Libyan Government has just announced that it will soon reveal any papers it has but this remains to be seen. They've already had over a year to produce any files of interest.

The SNP Government have repeatedly stated that the conviction of Megrahi is totally safe and that they had no doubt of his guilt so it's hard to see any new evidence being looked at with an open mind.

Megrahi dropped his appeal when he was released on humanitarian grounds so the new evidence didn't make it to court

Every Anniversary will bring added sadness to the families and friends of the bereaved so I wish them well and hope they can find the strength to have a Happy Christmas.

The next deadly threat to the planet......Water Vapour !!!

Phew, we survived the Mayan Apocalypse. But wait. There's another disaster on the way.....DEADLY WATER VAPOUR !!!. ( scary photo above).

Yes the experts are warning that this deadly fresh water vapour being emitted from COOLING TOWERS is "wrecking the climate"."Wrecking" doesn't sound very technical. Next they will be advising us to bury harmless hot air under the sea or something. Oh hang on........"Governments and greens alike may well regret neglecting CCS in favour of more glamorous technologies"

CCS ...carbon capture and storage...the billion pound bonkers idea of burying harmless hot air under the sea ? Not glamorous no. Just bonkers.

I suppose while there's billions to be made from the global warming myth then we'll have to put up with all this green rubbish.

Even the met office agrees that there's no global warming despite thousands of new power stations opening up around the globe....

Hallelujah ! Mayan Apocalypse Cancelled.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

It's a bit wet out there.

This is a good site to see the sequence of weather for Europe for the next hour viewed from the SAT24 satellite.

It gives a better picture than the standard weather forecasts which are confusing with the green land now replaced with various shades of brown.

And the standard forecast doesn't account for the aircraft trails that can see forecasts of blue skies cancelled out by lunchtime leaving the sky dark and overcast

...

November 13.00 hrs....

Wonga banned in Dundee Libraries.

This is a strange story. Dundee libraries blocking an FSA compliant and fully legal company from their computers.

It's sad that despite taxpayers pumping £400Bn into our banks people still can't get access to bank loans and have to use payday loan companies to survive.

People will still need to use payday loan companies so will use a friend's computer or one of the other companies instead.

Just more hassle for people trying to survive.

With the scourge of drugs in Dundee and the frequent deaths due to drugs I wonder if HSBC are blocked as well ? They were recently fined $1.9Bn dollars for laundering $9Bn of drug money. Without the help of the banks there would be hardly any drug problem as there would be no means to finance the operation on such a worldwide scale. Of course other banks have taken up the slack from HSBC but that's another long story.

The US investigation into HSBC found that drug dealers would sometimes come to HSBC's Mexican branches and "deposit hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, in a single day, into a single account, using boxes designed to fit the precise dimensions of the teller windows."

It goes without saying that nobody at the bank was prosecuted although it "agreed to partially defer bonus compensation for its most senior officials"

Maybe they've blocked Barclays bank who were recently fined £290m for fixing libor rates that determine things such as the mortgage interest rate people pay. They were doing this from as early as 2005.

Traders would fix the rate in order to ensure their bonuses were safe. Handing over bottles of bollinger as a thank you.

One Barclays trader told a trader from another bank in relation to three-month dollar Libor: "duuuude... what's up with ur guys 34.5 3m fix... tell him to get it up!".

Millions of people have / will lose their houses due to rates that were artificial forcing many to lose their credit rating and be forced to use payday loan companies such as Wonga instead.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Tony ready to help to save the Union ?

In a 'boost' for the 'Better Together' campaign, the former PM Tony Blair has offered his help in fighting against independence for Scotland.

The 'Better Together' campaign said "Mr Blair was a big political player and it would be willing to discuss his participation in the run-up to the 2014 referendum"

The pro Independence 'Yes Scotland' campaign said his intervention was an "early Christmas present" for the Yes campaign.

Will the 'Better Together' campaign have the 'dream team' of Johann....

And Tony ?....

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

12 shillings for a stamp.

Unbelievable. 60 pence for a postage stamp.

And if you have a slightly large Christmas card to post then it's worthwhile getting it measured otherwise the recipient will get fined a 'handling charge' of a pound if it's not fully funded.

The maximum measurements are....

Length: 240mm max Width: 165mm max Thickness: 5mm max weight : 0 to 100 g

Any card outwith this range and it's a bit of a lottery as to the cost.

If you're not in the house when the postie arrives and the card is not fully paid up and has money outstanding for postage then you will get a note saying that there is 'a packet' for you to collect at the sorting office. If it said 'card' then you would just ignore it and throw the note in the bin. But 'packet' gives you the impression that it's an exciting parcel waiting for you so the long wait in the cold will be worthwhile. Sadly they will probably just hand you a tattered Christmas card and charge you for the privilege. A minimum of a pound but possibly more.

The reasons for the long slow decline in our postal service are too numerous to mention and it will probably be totally privatised soon and will no longer be able to offer a fixed charge for anywhere in the country. Companies will cherry pick the most profitable parts and leave the rest to decline and wither.

The biggest disaster has been the various EU Directives that have forced the postal service to open up to competition. Overseas companies have been able to cherry pick all the best services. As usual the UK went further than required by the Directives and we now reap the results.

Skyfall.

I finally got around to seeing the new Bond movie 'Skyfall' the other night and enjoyed it. The cinema audience were deathly quiet for the whole film so I think they must have been enjoying the film as well. One of my favourite scenes wasn't the high tech fights or the helicopter attack on his Highland home, but the scene where he gets his old Aston Martin out of the lock up and escapes with 'M' into the night.

Then a comforting return to childhood when all the worlds problems could be sorted out by 'Bond......James Bond ' with the re assuring music that meant help was on the way....

Britain's version of the US 7th Cavalry. Bond in his Aston Martin. The bugles replaced by the orchestra.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Still no place for Christ in First Minister's Christmas card.

I've just had a look at Scotland First Minister Alex Salmond's Christmas card for 2012 and see there's still no place for Jesus on it. Just some flowers this year. I know the original painting is sold for good causes but is there any chance of something related to Christmas next year ? The clue to what might be on the card is on the name of the card....."Christmas". The average person would think I was taking the mickey if I sent them a Christmas card with some summer flowers on it. 'He's finally cracked poor lad' or words to that effect.

Previous SNP 'Christmas' cards...

2011.....'Bella Caledonia' ...

2010....'Let's Twist Again' .

2009....'A new journey'.

It’s been fun, but lots more to do – Johann Lamont

Happy First Anniversary to the Labour leader in Scotland.

A wee tune to celebrate....

Speaking in 'The Scotsman' newspaper she said the highlight of her year was......

"ambushing Alex Salmond by producing two pensioners who had suffered from a lack of hospital blankets" The SNP apologised after dismissing complaints of a blanket shortage."

Mmmm...not really much to celebrate there.

But good luck for another year of success !

Sunday, 16 December 2012

A seat at the top table.

The Deputy First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon made a speech in the Scottish Parliament the other day and said that she wants Scotland to have a 'seat at the top table' in the EU if we get independence from the United Kingdom. Thus ignoring her fellow Scots who would prefer to stay as an independent country running our own affairs in our own shiny new parliament in Edinburgh. Without any interference from Brussels. She is setting the agenda to make our EU membership settled without asking what we think about such a move.

Our Scottish representatives won't have much trouble finding a seat and hopefully they will keep quiet and not waken up their EU colleagues...

Come on guys it must be more exciting than that ?

At least they showed up for their 12,000 euros a month plus exes. And it's only the rubber stamping part of the EU so there's no decisions to worry about

The decisions are made by the guys on the big bucks and they aren't elected and we aren't invited.

Ms Sturgeon's speech in full....

I am pleased to have the opportunity to make a statement on an independent Scotland’s continuing membership of the European Union and to respond to recent statements by the President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso.

Firstly, let me be clear that the Scottish Government believes that Scotland should continue to be a member of the EU; a view that does not appear to be shared by a UK government that is displaying ever increasing signs of Euro-scepticism. Indeed, in my view, it is the overtly hostile stance of the UK government – or at least significant parts of it – that presents the real risk to Scotland’s continuing membership of the EU.

This government believes that Scotland does benefit from EU membership and that the EU benefits – enormously – from having Scotland as a member. It is also our view that Scotland’s interests would be better represented in the EU by an independent Scottish Government, with a seat at the top table, able to speak up for our national interest without having to seek the prior permission of UK ministers; and a government able to work closely and constructively with partners across these islands, and across the EU, to advance our shared interests.

Presiding Officer, that is our ambition for Scotland’s future in Europe. It is positive and constructive – with Scotland’s and Europe’s best interests at its heart – and it stands in sharp contrast to the stance of the UK government.

Let me turn now to the recent statements of the President of the European Commission.

As head of the Commission, Mr Barroso’s opinion on this matter should be – and will be by this Government – treated seriously and with respect.

That is why I have written to him seeking an early opportunity to discuss the particular process by which Scotland would become independent and the implications of that for our continued EU membership.

However, in doing so, it is important that I also set out the following points.

Firstly, the European Commission, however important, is not the final arbiter of these matters. Mr Barroso’s statements do not constitute a ‘ruling’, as some have suggested. Nor does the Commission even claim to be specifically addressing the particular situation of Scotland.

Indeed, the President of the Commission himself made clear, in his letter to the House of Lords Committee, that ‘the European Commission has expressed its views in general…’

Second, there is absolutely no provision in the EU Treaties for the dis-application of those Treaties or the removal of EU citizenship from a country and its people when they exercise their democratic right to self-determination. And it would be extraordinary if anyone in this chamber – or indeed anyone else committed to the principle of democracy – was to suggest that there should be.

Indeed, Mr Barroso said in response to a question on 10 November 2012, ‘There are no provisions in the Treaties that refer to the secession from a member state.’

Therefore, what I want to outline to the President – and indeed hear his views on – is the specific process by which Scotland would become independent and the way in which we would seek to ensure that our intention to remain within the EU is achieved.

Firstly, let me deal with the process of independence. As a result of the Edinburgh Agreement that process is democratic, agreed and consensual and the result will be respected and implemented by both the Scottish and UK governments.

Following a ‘yes’ vote in 2014, a process of negotiation will take place with the UK government on the transfer of powers to an independent Scottish Parliament. As I said last week, it would be the intention of the Scottish Government to invite representatives of the other parties and of civic Scotland to contribute to that process. It is a process that we would intend to have completed in time for the next Scottish election in 2016. However, in the period between autumn 2014 and May 2016, Scotland would still be in the UK and, therefore, by definition, still within the EU.

In parallel to negotiations with the UK government, it would be our intention to negotiate the terms of an independent Scotland’s continuing membership of the EU.

And here I should point out that the need for negotiations with the EU was made clear by the Scottish Government in Choosing Scotland’s Future in 2007, in Your Scotland, Your Voice in 2009 and in Your Scotland, Your Referendum in 2012. And it is worth remembering that these are matters that are likely to be about political negotiation more than they will be about legal process.

Let me also pause here to reflect on the position of the UK in such negotiations. It would be interesting to hear those who argue that an independent Scotland would have to reapply for EU membership explain in some detail why that same argument wouldn’t also be true of the rest of the UK, given that the democratic process we are engaged in would lead to the dissolution of the UK in its current political form. However, since I do not believe that we would be in a formal re-application situation, I will not dwell on that point.

However, what will undoubtedly be the case is that negotiation on terms of continuing membership will be highly relevant to the rest of the UK which will require to determine, for example, its own number of seats in the European Parliament and its revised financial contribution.

So, I believe Scotland and the rest of the UK would have a shared interest in concluding such negotiations smoothly and quickly.

And I believe that such a sensible process of negotiation will result in Scotland’s continuing membership of the EU on terms that are reasonable. And by that I mean, for example, that just like Sweden, we would not join the Euro until and unless it was in Scotland’s interests to do so and we had satisfied the conditions for doing so. And, just like Ireland, we would not enter Schengen but would instead look to co-operate with Ireland and the rest of the UK in the Common Travel Area. Both of these positions are practical and justifiable and would, I am sure, be supported by all parties here in Scotland. And, given their approach in other circumstances, the evidence suggests they would be understood by our European partners.

I will cite two reasons for my view and, in so doing, I am very deliberately relying, not simply on arguments of law or process, but on arguments of common sense, reality and mutual self-interest.

Firstly, the EU is an organisation that welcomes new members. It wants others to join – it most certainly would not want to see existing parts of its territory leave.

Let me quote, again, the words of Mr Barroso, this time on 11 September – ‘I see no country leaving and I see many countries wanting to join.’

The EU is also an inherently flexible organisation – it adapts, as indeed it should, to the changing circumstances of its member states. To demonstrate that, we just have to look at how quickly and smoothly the former East Germany was integrated into the EU following re-unification. Indeed it’s instructive to read the press release issued by the Commission about East Germany in 1990. It said, ‘The community institutions have all done their utmost to bring about the integration of what was the German Democratic Republic as smoothly as possible and within the timescale allowed by the unification process.’

There was no direct precedent for what happened with East Germany – just as there is no precedent for what might happen in Scotland – but the EU found a solution that is consistent with the principle of sincere co-operation that lies at the heart of the EU Treaties. They adapted and they did it on the basis of common sense and accommodation of internal decisions taken by one of its member states.

My second reason for believing that Scotland would continue in membership of the EU is that it is overwhelmingly in the EU’s interests for us to do so.

And by that I don’t just mean that to go through the complicated process of putting Scotland outside the EU, just for us to be readmitted later, would be – as Graham Avery, an Honorary DG of the Commission, said – ‘not feasible’.

I mean that Scotland’s vast assets – fishing, oil and gas, renewables; our value as an export market to other member states; our education system enjoyed by thousands of EU students every year; and our status as home to tens of thousands of EU citizens, mean that the economic, social and political interests of the EU would be best served by Scotland remaining in continuous membership.

Let us just look at some of that in more detail. We have around 90% of the EU’s oil and gas reserves. We accounted for around two-thirds of EU crude oil and a fifth of EU natural gas production in 2009. An independent Scotland would be the largest producer of oil and the second largest producer of gas in the EU.

In 2010/11, there were more than 16,000 EU students enrolled at Scottish HEIs and 150,000 EU citizens living here by virtue of the freedom of movement that comes with us as being part of the EU.

We are an integral member of the EU and it is not credible to argue that the other nations of the EU would not want to retain access to the vast array of resources and opportunities that Scotland brings to the EU table.

Indeed, if the opposition parties have Scotland’s best interests at heart then – notwithstanding their opposition to independence – they will accept that, in the event of a ‘yes’ vote, the process I have outlined today would be in the best interests of Scotland, the UK and the EU.”

It's quite a depressing speech and makes me quite sad.

Begging to join an institution that's crumbling from within and that will drag us down with it. Sucking out our resources on the way down. We could have had a bright independent future like Norway instead of this.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Bah Humbug !

I was in Dundee City Centre today doing my annual Christmas shopping and spotted Desperate Dan with a new best friend on his head. The streets were packed with shoppers which surprised me with the double dip recession. I asked some of the shoppers if they were worried about the potential loss of our 'AAA' credit rating and whether the new Goldman Sachs guy at the BofE could turn things around. They said they 'didnae ken'.

There was an outside market with food and drink on sale. The 'buffalo burgers' were sold out at 1pm...probably due to the hundreds of fans down from Inverness for the football game against Dundee United ( 4-4 after United were winning 3 nil...disgrace !). They love their buffalo up there in 'teuchter' land.

I tried the German food instead..spicy hot dog at £3. It was ok but is still bubbling away in my belly. Time for some sudafed I think.

Getting home was difficult with the 'Wellgate Shopping Centre' closing the escalator next to 'Poundland' for maintenance. I was weighed down with bags from 'Poundland' full of 'things that might come in handy' so had to struggle to try and find a way up to the car park and escape from the city.

I didn't manage to find any presents so will go back when it's quieter.

I bet Desperate Dan doesn't have all this hassle every year...

Friday, 14 December 2012

£41,000 for ten rubbish bins ?

To be fair they're solar powered rubbish bins with a built in battery that powers a crusher for the rubbish, allowing up to 8 times the usual capacity for rubbish. And there's a built in wifi that provides a free wifi hotspot.

Hopefully we will get some sunshine and it turns out to be a successful waste management project. If things go well then more will be bought.

We seldom see much sunshine these days so I'm not too hopeful of them operating efficiently. Days that are forecast as 'blue skies with sunny spells' usually turn out like this...

And this...

After about 30 of these fly over in a few hours..

There was a report on Sky News today saying that the recent lack of sunshine in the UK was resulting in a huge rise in cases of rickets, TB and diabetes in the UK population.

Also according to a report in The Herald...

" Scotland's largest health board has reported a seven-fold increase in the number of young Scots struck down by multiple sclerosis (MS). NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) diagnosed 20 people under the age of 30 with the incurable neurological condition last year – up from just three in 2007. Overall, Scottish health boards say that in the past five years there has been a 30% increase in Scots of all ages diagnosed with MS. Health experts blame the rise on a lack of sunshine – which provides vitamin D – and other environmental factors."

People are being advised to take Vitamin D to supplement the deficiency due to lack of sunlight.

Young folk do spend more time on computer games and other types of indoor activity compared to 20 or 30 years ago so will get less exposure to the sun than my generation did. Obesity in the young in Tayside is also a major problem with NHS Tayside saying they " struggled to articulate the size of the child obesity problem in Tayside. [and] feel 440 is just the tip of the iceberg."

Despite the need for more sunshine and exercise there's a plan to close parks in order to save £30,000 a year. Surely health costs for obesity and disease due to vitamin D deficiency would outweigh any savings made from park closures ? Would it not be possible to lease the solar powered rubbish bins for a year and use the spare cash to keep the parks open for a year ? To spend £41,000 on bins for what the spokesperson said was 'a trial' seems odd. I've not previously heard of a trial on a new product where all the cash is paid up front. Why not let the manufacturers take the hit if a year long trial is unsuccessful ? This would give the authorities a year to re allocate funding for the parks. I know the money is from a different money pot ( Zero Waste Scotland or local authority ) but it all comes from the same taxpayer in the end.

Once closed, these parks will be prime targets for development as they're predominantly situated in urban areas close to other amenities.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Rumours of Mayan 2012 Apocalypse over Dundee quashed.

I was going to file a report of earth shattering news today as I witnessed and photographed a giant chunk being ripped out of the clouds over Tayside. Thinking it may be the rogue planet Nibiru or 'Planet X' which was scheduled to collide with Earth on the 21st December I ran for my camera and recorded some pictures for posterity. A last record for future generations to ponder over.....

Sadly, after googling " big hole in the clouds" (top tip : keep it simple), it turned out to be a 'punch hole cloud' and my scoop turned to dust.

" Punch hole clouds, also known as fallstreak holes are large circular clearings that can appear in cirrocumulus or altocumulus clouds. Such holes are formed when the water temperature in the clouds is below freezing but the water has not frozen yet due to the lack of ice nucleation particles. When a portion of the water does start to freeze it will set off a domino effect causing the water vapor around it to freeze and fall to the earth as well. This leaves a large, often circular, hole in the cloud."

More pics of the non apocalypse. Seems to be two punch holes here. Worse than buses. You wait for years to see one, then they all turn up at once...

Broughty Castle.....which was to be my refuge from the impact of Planet X

Oh by the way we were supposed to get blue skies today with brilliant sunshine. Another FAIL for our 'weather forecasters'.....

EU pauses to collect Peace Prize before picking it's next fight.

The EU collected it's Nobel Peace Prize today and they hadn't even had time to finish the celebratory champagne before starting another squabble.

President Barroso said that Scotland would have to reapply to join the EU if we became an independent state. This seemed to go against what we've been told by the SNP for many years. They assured us they had it all sorted and that we would be automatic members. Totally ignoring the thousands of Scots who don't want any part of the EU and would prefer a referendum on joining. Not really sorted. Just sort of sorted then.

Ms Sturgeon, Deputy First Minister of Scotland, was on BBC Newsnight to assure us that it was all a misunderstanding and that we would be in the EU. She said that the Spanish fishermen wouldn't be impressed if Scotland wasn't part of the EU.

You bet they wouldn't. Or the rest of the EU boats that are hoovering up our birthright.

The EU Fisheries Policy has been such a success hasn't it ?. Heck we've got so much fish we dump the ones we don't want....

Monday, 10 December 2012

Remploy employees 'empowered' by getting sacked.

Sad news about the Remploy employees in Dundee being sacked just before Christmas. Their factory will join 30 others throughout the country that are being closed.

From 'The Courier'...

" Earlier this year, the Government acted on the controversial Sayce Report, which recommended that disabled workers would be better served in mainstream employment rather than a supported environment such as Remploy."

The Sayce Report recommends " empowering disabled people and employers by opening up Access to Work, widening access to information and peer support and ensuring support can go with the individual, from job to job, equipping disabled people for the economy of today and tomorrow. Young people do not expect a job for life – so we need to design support that can go with the individual, from job to job.”

Liz Sayce who compiled the report is Chief Executive of radar 'the disability rights people'

Ms Sayce is also Common Purpose. which is a sort of shadow administration which teaches graduates to lead 'Outside Authority'. There are estimated to be about 20,000 graduates throughout the public sector and each 3 day graduate course costs taxpayers about £4,000. Selection for the course is by recommendation.

Remploy employees are probably like myself and had never previously heard of 'The Sayce Report' or 'radar' or 'Common Purpose' but if the government are using these experts to advise them on who to sack then we had better learn fast.

The Courier article continues....

"In a statement to Parliament yesterday, the Minister for Disabled People Esther McVey MP said Remploy in Dundee is ''not commercially viable'' and has ''little realistic prospect of being sold''

The Government did find £2.9Bn to fund various 'green projects' abroad such as Kenyan rain dancers (£25m), windmills in Turkey (£31m) and special vegetation that would help stop Colombian cattle from farting and causing global warming (£15m). It's a sort of green troubleshooting fund where we will fund any hairbrained scheme as long as it has 'green' in the request for money form.

Remploy should have designed a windmill powered water bed that sprinkled you with genuine Kenyan rain water whenever you farted and they would have been sorted.

(UPDATE 1..... 1st Feb 2013. Remploy employee found dead on day of closure of Springburn factory. Recently presented with award for 40 years loyal service.)

(UPDATE 2.... 5th Feb 2013 "Furious disabled workers accuse Tory axewoman Esther McVey of throwing them on scrapheap in wake of Remploy closures". Ms McVey goes to Dundee to talk to workers.)</p>

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Soon be time to put up the Christmas tree.

I was just contemplating the annual climb up into the loft to retrieve the Christmas tree from under all the other junk when I found this picture....

I've got a similar set of silver christmassy ladders in the shed so it's definitely a goer. It would save me from having to climb up into that cold and dusty old loft.

There's a lot of snow forecast for next week and this wee snow clearer looks just the business...

H/T..thereIfixedit.

energy saving trust / Scotland

The energysavingtrust have been advertising on tv and delivering letters to Scottish households over the last few weeks and I'd advise people to take notice. There are serious offers available from free insulation to complete central heating systems. The free offers are dependent on many factors including your age and the condition of your house and associated heating and insulation etc. It's not all means tested and is on a first come first served basis with limited funding for each financial year.

I prefer our money going into these practical projects rather than into wasteful windfarms , solar farms and wave energy.

So don't ignore this chance of keeping cosy as we enter a new little ice age. You might just get general advice but you may be eligible for a spanking new combi boiler and new radiators.

UPDATE : Advertising on tv is directing people to this website....

http://www.greenerscotland.org/warm-homes

Thursday, 6 December 2012

The Sequestration of Exhalation.

Delegates at the climate change conference in Qatar test out the 'new mask' that will filter out their carbon dioxide exhalations and help save the planet from global warming...

Don't laugh. These delegates set the agenda that gets governments building expensive wind farms and have led the way on the farcical carbon trading scheme and feed in tariffs etc. Forcing up our energy bills as we all freeze to death.

The spoof video saw the delegates agree that the CO2 killing masks were a good idea and that they would be happy for their kids and pets to be masked up as well.

H/T Oh What Now

" It's easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled."

I think Mark Twain had these guys sussed out.

Of course the man made global warming myth is just the latest nonsense that has infected the gullible. History is full of stuff that eventually becomes less fashionable and believable..

Soon be Christmas ladies. Get your requests in to your man....

Smokers are now treated like satan's spawn but it wasn't always so...

H/T pics from woodsterman.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Dalai Lama snubbed again.

The guy must be starting to get a complex. Snubbed by the Tories and Lib Dems this time. I think it was a snub by the SNP last time. And Labour the time before that.

From The Telegraph....

" The ministers – Tim Loughton and Norman Baker – were barred from attending a private lunch with the Tibetan spiritual leader in the apartment of the House of Commons Speaker John Bercow minutes before it was due to start. The pair then wrote to the Prime Minister to protest after the “deeply embarrassing” incident in June this year, according to a copy of the letter obtained by Channel Four Dispatches programme. Mr Loughton told the programme that he and Mr Baker had originally been cleared to meet the Dalai Lama on his visit to the UK between 14 and 23 June this year."

Mr Rennie (H/T Caron)....

Mr Rennie of the Scottish Liberal Democrats was furious at one of the 3 snubs and said..

" It’s not good enough........ This is about making a stand on China’s human rights record, a country where 500,000 people are detained without trial and women are forced to have abortions on the orders of the government.......... This behaviour is unacceptable. This is not some spat between politicians. It’s an issue of human rights. It matters."

The comments section in the Telegraph article always enlighten us. Dougie has a strange perspective on the issue..

..... DougieCM

Today 05:20 AM

"Salmond did the same with the Dalai Lama. Trading away Scottish steel jobs for the new Forth crossing to the Chinese in exchange for a pair of queer pandas, snubbing the Dalai Lama and generally being indifferent to human rights. Given the extended history of the SNP, from plotting to setup Scotland as a Nazi puppet state to referring to the intervention against ethnic cleansing in Kosovo as "unpardonable folly", none of this surprises me...

When did Ravenscraig Steel Mill close again ?

A popular choice for some.

Impress your neighbours and friends.....

Easyjet faces new competition.....