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April 2011 NEWS

Saturday 30 April 2011

china Bit more on concessions to Chinese truckers
  • China Car Times - "Highway Fees to be Lowered This Year".
    Because of vested interests, two previous decisions to remove tolls and bring in a gas tax were not implemented. The chances of any significant reduction in tolls is still zero.

    canada usa War of Words
    A battle has been going on over who will build a new bridge to supplement the existing privately owned toll bridge on the border - Detroit News - "Bridge company warns of toll war if second span is built"   Marion Star - "Editorial: Lawmakers for sale, and Matty Moroun is buying too many too easily"   Fox - "Bridge Company Paid Expert Pessimistic on New Span to Canada" video   MLive - "Is the proposed third Detroit-Windsor border crossing legal? Law professor hired by Matty Moroun challenges constitutionality".

    usa USA Roundup
  • From a cyclist who advocated "congestion pricing" for New York - Grist - "What’s the matter with elasticities? (Answer: maybe nothing)".
    The writer sets out to rubbish the idea (based on a recent IMF publication) that there is a very low price elasticity for oil. He does this because he is in favour of a carbon tax to save the planet from CO2. His main argument seems to be that between 1990 and 2010 the US economy grew by 65 per cent but vehicle fuel used only grew by 25 per cent because, he says, the gas price (in real terms) had increased by 40 per cent.
    The suggestion that in effect the amount of driving will change in line with GDP is nonsense. Driving by any individual is constrained by the amount of time that they are prepared to spend on travelling to get from A to B. In a fully developed and rich economy like America (i.e. where most people who want a car can afford it), changes in the amount of driving at a national level are mainly due to increased population and in particular the extent to which the growth is away from the main centres of work. Reductions in the amount of the gas used due to price may be mainly due to longer term factors such as drivers buying cars with better mpg, and driving at such a time and in such a way that they don't burn as much gas, and, of course, not living so far away from where they work!
    PS This is the article which the cyclist says "makes many of the points offered here ... and more elegantly" - Modeled Behavior - "Of carbon taxes and price elasticities". This is the recent IMF publication - "World Economic Outlook April 2011" pdf, (the bit about price elasticity for oil is on page 97).

  • Sundry stories - New York - "E-ZPass users hit with hidden fees"   Virginia / N Carolina - "Chesapeake, N.C. officials collide over higher tolls"   Virginia / N Carolina - "Toll on Va. expressway to NC’s Outer Banks tripling on weekends, worrying tourism leaders"   NJ - "Authority accepts union contracts"   Land Line Mag - "Could tolls return to Connecticut?"   NJ / Delaware - "Delaware Memorial Bridge users propose steeper hike to spare discount programs".

    newzealand Another example of Kiwis being taken for suckers
  • Voxy - "New Research Shows Fast Lane Fees Could Significantly Cut Congestion".

    canada Toll tales from Canada
  • Bit more on extension to 407 racket - MyKawartha - "Hwy. 407 tolls: one bill, two owners"   Peterborough Examiner - "Province moves ahead with 407 extension".
    Though the Province is paying for the extension, the people most likely to benefit from increased traffic will be the private owners of the 407.

    Friday 29 April 2011

    usa USA Roundup
  • PC World - "Who Else Is Tracking Your Location?".

  • - "Taking from poor to please the rich" letter.

  • Sundry stories - Washington State - "Viaduct Diversion, By the Numbers"   New York - "Schumer Targets 'Highway Robbery' Toll Fees Faced By NY Commuters"   Georgia - "Toll road proposed to skirt Atlanta congestion"   NJ - "Accord would save toll collector jobs"   NJ - "Toll privatization off the table as unions agree to cut salaries" lot of comments   N Carolina - "One Gaston commissioner opposes Garden Parkway, but others champion it"   Florida - "New High Tech Cameras Catching Toll Violators" video & comments   Louisiana - "It’s time to tank CCC tolls".

    australia Another Con floated
  • Brisbane Times - "Congestion charging: 'Time for Brisbane to have the debate'".

    portugal Tolls on fire
  • Portugal NewsonLine - "Toll equipment vandalised on Algarve motorway".

    europe "Eurovignette directive update"
  • HGV UK.

    britain" An electrifying success!
  • Guardian - "Electric car scheme has only 534 takers".

    earth Peacekeeping
  • Following the recent disturbing account from the New York based Human Rights Watch and others there is to be a new NATO campaign.
    President Obama has said, ".. I am sure that, like me, all American people will have been horrified to learn what has been going on. Over many, many years the regime has been involved in wars over almost every part of the Globe. There is even some evidence that it was responsible for the enslaving and brutal treatment of my own ancestors. The World can no longer tolerate regimes such as this, and having consulted with our allies (except one) we are going to use all necessary force to stop this and to ensure freedom and real democracy for its people."
    The regime is run by a hereditary ruler who's predecessors at one time used a feudal system. That was inefficient and was ended some time ago, but the native people are still exploited.
    A unique feature of the regime, is that it took over the church, stole all the assets that were used for the poor and sick, and still appoints an "archbishop" to exercise day to day control. The natives are expected to ask God to protect the regime's head and "make her victorious", "scatter her enemies, and make them fall", "confound their politics" and crush the rebels in the northern part of the regimedom - it was suggested that NATO should arm these rebels, but they seem to have been won over to the regime by large handouts at the expense of the natives in the southern part of the regimedom.
    The regime has a "democracy" where the regime's head has given a lot of power to her "Prime Minister", though the holder of the office has to be careful that they don't displease the regime's head. There is also a "Parliament" who's main functions are to levy the taxes and ensure that the population (particularly those who are drivers) is controlled. All the members of Parliament (many of whom are not elected) have to swear allegiance to the head of the regime and her children, as do all members of the Police and Armed Forces.

    Thursday 28 April 2011

    usa USA Roundup
  • Economist - "America's transport infrastructure - Life in the slow lane".

  • FireDogLake - "A Re-Evaluation of Trickle Down Economics – Turns Out It Is Fantastically, Outrageously Successful".

  • Another toll road with finance problems - Orange County Register (Cal.) - "73 road's 'loan mod': 6 more years of tolls?".

  • Sundry stories - Texas - "Tollway authority ready to open its books, answer criticisms about hefty toll late fees, cozy relationship with contractors"   Texas - "Under scrutiny? County judges to join NTTA board at special meeting today to discuss outside review"   NY - "GOP Pols Seeks Tolls On East River Bridges"   NY - "Republicans Look to Trade Payroll Tax for Bridge Tolls"   Florida - "Expressway authority catches more toll runners"   Ohio - "Oversight on leasing turnpike weighed"   Louisiana - "Audits find mispayment, faulty contracting involving Crescent City Connection funds"   Louisiana - "Crescent City Connection financial irregularities uncovered, state transportation officials say" comments.

    singapore Another comment about Con not stopping congestion
  • Channel News Asia - "NSP's Goh Meng Seng blames SM Goh for high cost of living".
    This is similar to what Lee Kuan Yew said in 2008 - the cost of owning a car in Singapore is so high, that you will use it as much as you can despite ERP.

    germany Greens go to war on cars
  • GT Spirit - "Tensions Rise in The Heartland of German Automotive Industry".

    south Bit more on new tolls
  • EyeWitnessNews - "Team to report back on proposed Gauteng tolls".

    Thursday 28 April 2011

    earth Pop
  • Part of the Australian Anglican Synod has suggested that baby bonuses should be scrapped, but the politicians and bishops want them kept - Herald Sun - "Gillard Government vows to keep baby bonus despite church calls" inc Poll.
    HSBC amongst others wants more people so as to prevent "wage pressures" - Sydney Morning Herald - "Increase migration or waste the boom"

    Wednesday 27 April 2011

    london The Air Con
  • The first part of American funded research on the Con and air quality has been published - HEI Publications - "The Impact of the Congestion Charging Scheme on Air Quality in London" various free pdfs.
    About the only reaction we can find to this is - Guardian - "How can we clean up London's air?"   Reuters - "No air quality benefit from London's traffic levy". Both the BBC and the Evening Standard seem to have ignored it.

    london No to a new crossing, and a PS that they want Dartford tolls removed
  • Gravesend Messenger - "Resounding no to lower Thames crossing".

    britain" Establishment snub?
  • BBC - "Tony Blair and Gordon Brown royal wedding 'snub' row".
    However much the Royals may look down on Labour, it is possible that this is a mistake. After all can the Queen have forgotten that when her family were relieved that Diana had been removed, it was Tony Blair who advised Windsor & Co to hide their true feelings and arranged for them the canonisation of Diana?

    britain" Back to the past
  • Britains GDP is back where it was six months ago - BBC - "UK economy grows by 0.5% in first quarter of 2011"   ONS - "Gross domestic product preliminary estimate 1st Quarter 2011".

    earth AGW
  • More junk science on the BBC - BBC - "'Neglected' current could keep Europe warm".
    The story assumes that the Gulf Stream will stop flowing due to "Climate Change". It also refers to that great science documentary "The Day After Tomorrow" where "Climate Change" causes "a new Ice Age".
    In the real world, there has been doubt for some years that the Gulf Stream has a significant warming impact, and it has recently been suggested that the cold (relative to western coast of Europe) winters on the eastern seaboard of USA are due to the Gulf Stream leading to cooling of the land on that side of the Atlantic rather than the Gulf Stream warming the British side - Watts Up - "Warm water, cold winters".
    As for the "Ice Age", we have been in one since the Pliocene-Quaternary glaciation began about 2.5 million years ago, and the suggestion that new glaciation will result from the Earth getting warmer is impossible to square with the claim from the same AGW acolytes that the existing glaciers are melting because of AGW.

    Tuesday 26 April 2011

    usa USA Roundup
  • Sundry stories - NY - "Hudson Valley State Senators Want East River Tolls Instead Of MTA Payroll Tax"   "Connecticut legislative panel OKs Route 11 toll bill"   Washington State - "Road tolls could be implemented on all routes" letter   NY - "As Gas Prices Rise, Thruway Traffic Falls"   Indiana - "Questions about I-69 stall toll-road bill" inc Poll.
    New Jersey - "The Bell May Toll for Jersey Toll Collectors"   New York - "Swap the Suburban Payroll Tax for East River Bridge Tolls — Deal or No Deal?"   Illinois - "Privatization woes: Wouldn't it be nice to freeze Skyway toll increases to offset gas prices?".

    usa A problem a bit closer to home than Libya is
  • - "Is the United States filling the mass graves of Mexico?".

    wales Too fast for tolls
  • Bristol Evening Post - "Speeding drivers put staff on Severn Bridge, Bristol, in danger".
    The AA spokesman agrees with slowing vehicles down, a pity that he didn't suggest that removing the tolls was a better way of removing the problem.

    ireland More woes for Ireland
  • Independent - "Tax places heavy toll on motorists"   Independent - "Motorists face triple whammy of hikes in tax, tolls and petrol".
    Ireland's long economic boom was fuelled by massive EU subsidies. As with those UK regions that received such subsidies, none of it went into the roads infrastructure, instead there were dubious road tolls deals done in Ireland, which will for decades harm the economy by impeding agglomeration benefits.

    israel More on Con plan
  • Israeli Diamond News - "Government to Embark upon Tel Aviv Traffic Congestion Charge Scheme".

    newzealand Kiwis taken for suckers
  • 3News - "Motorists support congestion charges - survey"   NZ Herald - "GDP growth faces traffic jam".

    m6toll January to March traffic
  • At the end of last week the Australian owners of the M6 Toll published their latest quarterly figures. They showed a very small decline in traffic, year on year. The traffic numbers have been bouncing along the bottom for some time, though the income has been increasing because of toll rises. There are more details of traffic at - our M6 Toll traffic page.

    earth Peacekeeping
  • Given the other developments around Africa and the Middle East, NATO will be anxious to win the war in Libya as quickly as possible in case it needs to use military power elsewhere. America, Britain and France will therefore be pleased that Italy has decided to join in more actively - BBC - "Berlusconi backs Nato strikes by Italy jets".
    As we mentioned on the 30 March, Italy has only recently agreed to pay five billion dollars as compensation for what it had done during its occupation of Libya. Perhaps Belusconi believes that the IOU can now be torn up?
    America and the ex Colonial powers are facing major problems as the civil unrest that they helped to promote spreads to an increasing number of countries. Very few of these countries are significant to the West, but the effects will be very great if the Western backed oildoms of the Gulf lose control of their subjects or if the Chinese establishment loses control and there is then greatly increased uncertainty about the US debt that is held by China (just for starters, there is the Chinese Central bank holding one trillion dollars of the US Federal debt). Threats to oil supply or the dollar would have a major impact on oil prices, but based on the prices in the oil futures market, it seems that there is no chance of either the oildom subjects or the Chinese people getting freedom.

  • Wikleaks on the fate of the prisoners of war taken from Afghanistan early in 2001 - Guardian - "Guantánamo leaks lift lid on world's most controversial prison".
    The people still in the gaol are perhaps the lucky ones, who were not killed when captured or at some stage handed over to non American authorities who may have treated them even worse. Though perhaps the oddest thing about this issue of the prisoners, is that America still occupies part of its former colony of Cuba, and is thus able to largely ignore laws that would apply in the 50 states and also ignores the Geneva Convention on the Treatment of Prisoners of War.

    earth AGW
  • More Climate misdirection on the News media - BBC - "Climate change to reduce US West water supply - report".
    Even if AGW were real and even if one of its effects was to reduce water supply, that would not be significant compared with the effects of population growth. The report mentions various states covering the south west including California which had 2.4 million people in 1910 and 37.3 million in 2010, with growth in the last decade of 10 per cent, and Texas which had 3.9 million in 1910 and 25.1 million in 2010 with growth in the last decade of 20 per cent.

  • BBC - "Carbon emissions 'hidden' in imported goods revealed".
    No problem, to achieve their targets, all they need to do is to hit drivers even harder!

    Monday 25 April 2011

    usa USA Roundup
  • The Florida trolls are building another tolls plaza, but with the aim of not getting more money - - "New Beachline tolls explained".
    No doubt the drivers won't mind having two lots of toll queues rather than one!

  • More on the start of a fight to make sure that tolls are removed as per the current law - Nola (Louisiana) - "Crescent City Connection toll renewal fight is brewing".
    This story includes a poll, where 27 per cent of drivers have taken the trouble to say that they want tolls kept. Perhaps a lane could be reserved so that these drivers could pay while other drivers enjoy the freedom of no tolls?

  • Sundry stories - "Illinois Tollway offers online option to dispute toll violations".

    ireland Irish trolls to appeal court ruling
  • Post - "CRG to challenge tolls ruling in Supreme Court".

    earth Money
  • BBC - "Gold price jumps to new record as dollar falls further".
    Most of the time, gold has been a poor investment, it does not yield any interest and for long periods the price can be static - from 1982 to 2005 it hardly moved away from a price of 400 US dollars an ounce. But since 2006 there has been a strong steady climb and it is now just over 1,500 dollars an ounce. This could be a sign that money is due for a big fall, and that those in the know are borrowing cheap and spending on whatever they can buy.
    One of those in the know will be the Prime Minister who last week killed any prospect that his predecessor might take over at the IMF - PA - "Cameron could block Brown IMF bid". The Prime Minister seems to have forgotten that he himself was a "Special Advisor" to the Tory Chancellor of the Exchequer at the time of Black Wednesday. He also seems to be quite happy that the man who was the Governor of the Bank of England at the time of the near economic meltdown is still in his job!

    earth AGW
  • Telegraph - "Lobbyists who cleared 'Climategate' academics funded by taxpayers and the BBC".
    Despite Globe International's links to Governments, including those of Britain and the EU, it really inhabits the twilight world where some capitalist interests and some green interests come together on issues such as "Climate Change".
    Its International President from 2006 until May 2009 - Scunthorpe Telegraph - "MP resigns as president of GLOBE UK" was convicted earlier this month for false accounting of his expenses as an MP. The current International President is possibly best known for an incident in 1990 - BBC - "Gummer enlists daughter in BSE fight".

  • A layman's guide on how the movement of the jet streams is the main reason why, particularly in the British Isles, it is warmer or cooler than usual, and a theory as to what causes the jet streams to move - Irish Weather Online - "How The Sun Could Control Earth’s Temperature".

    Sunday 24 April 2011

    usa USA Roundup
  • There is a seven mile queue at the tolls. Is the solution to get rid of the corrupt tolls system? Off course not! - "Go for manual tolls' extinction".

  • Sundry stories - NY - "Bonacic legislation would drop payroll tax, place tolls on MTA bridges".

    china Chinese truckers offered a few concessions
  • FT - "Shanghai offers fee cuts to defuse strike".
    The puzzling part of this story is why in Communist China are the truck drivers responsible for all these charges? The answer seems to be that all of the truck industry is privately owned, and that though there are big firms, there are two million or more operators with only one truck.

    britain" The Future is already foreign
  • BBC - "Vauxhall boss warns over UK car-making future".
    British manufacturing industry was pulverised during the Thatcher years and will never recover. Volume production of cars for the home market is already almost dead. According to the SMMT, in the first 3 months of this year there were 357 thousand cars produced, of which only 60 thousand were for the home market.

    britain" The Future is Light
  • BBC - "Lasers could replace spark plugs in car engines".
    We could already have had more efficient engines - lean burn, but they were killed by the politicians because it was difficult to meet emission standards when this type of engine was fitted to larger, mainly German, cars.

    britain" The Dave and Nick Show
  • BBC - "Clegg attacks Cameron over alternative vote"   BBC - "Cameron and Clegg differ publicly on internship places".
    These two stories are examples of the way that the news media are amoral and will pass on any rubbish that is fed to them. The reality is that the two party leaders are peas from the same pod, but they are scared that both parties will be damaged by former Lib Dem voters switching to Labour or UKIP.

    earth Pop
  • Population growth and immigration are not a problem, people in places like Britain and America should change their lifestyles and consume less per head - Centre for Research on Globalization - "Population Growth, Pollution and the Global Environment".

    Saturday 23 April 2011

    usa USA Roundup
  • More Etolls fun (or should that be insanity?) - New-Sun (Illinois) - "I-Pass problem takes a toll on single mom"   King5 (Washington State) - "New 'Good to Go' toll stickers could lead to unwanted charges" video.

  • Regulating the heating fuel used by one per cent of the city's buildings "will do more than congestion pricing to clean up the air", according to New York's Mayor AMNY - "Bloomberg: City will eliminate dirty fuel oils by 2030".

  • To stop drivers avoiding new tolled road, the alternatives may also be tolled - Seattle Times - "Tunnel report suggests more tolling around region"   Kirotv - "Study Says Solution To Drivers Avoiding Tunnel Tolls May Be ... More Tolls"   Seattle Times - "All routes may be tolled for commuters who avoid Highway 99 tunnel"   Seattle Pi - "SDOT consultant questions wisdom of Highway 99 tunnel plan".

  • More on tolls returning to Connecticut- Hartford Courant - "Budget Deal Includes A Plan To Finish Route 11 And Install Tolls"   The Day - "Initial OK of tolls bill could give boost to finishing Route 11".

  • NJ Toll collectors lose legal action to protect their jobs - - "Toll collectors' suit against N.J. Turnpike Authority is dismissed" - "N.J. considers bids to operate Turnpike, Parkway tolls as privatization vote nears".

  • A Louisiana politician calls for tolls that are due to end next year to really end - WDSU - "Rep. Calls For End To CCC Tolls" video. Given the corruption that goes with tolls, it is almost impossible to get rid of them, even if the point is reached when they were supposed to stop. (And given the money lost through waste and handouts, the authorities can often arrange it so that there is always debt.)

  • Sundry stories - "Texas likely to expand authority to lease highways to developers"   Trucker - "Ohio willing to lease toll road, but won't sell it "   W Virginia - "Drop in turnpike toll revenue expected"   Florida - "Local counteroffer posed in toll road grab"   NY - "Private builder-operator for TZ?".

    canada Toll tales from Canada
  • BCLocal - "Developer of Pitt Meadows business park wants tolls reduced".

    britain" Plea
  • Scunthorpe Telegraph - "Ministers urged to plug £2.2m shortfall in Humber Bridge Board budget".

    vietnam Vietnamese tolls increased
  • Vietnam News Agency - "HCM City to increase road tolls ".

    japan More on Earthquake tolls
  • Japan Today - "Gov't to scrap Y1,000 expressway toll limit in June".
    The Government has now totally abandoned its election promise to remove tolls. This is a victory for the trolls, corruption, and those who want fuel taxes to remain low and so not encourage less use of oil.

    earth Peacekeeping
  • Britain and France are quite happy to engage in quasi colonial wars, but the recent unrest must be a conundrum for President Obama, whose father was Kenyan.
    Most countries, including nearly all those in Africa and the Middle East are either dictatorships or one party states. The infrequent changes in leadership are for more likely to come about through the bullet than the ballot box. So which Government leaders to be invited to the White House and supplied with arms, and which are from countries where the rebels are to be aided and used by the CIA and where "regime" forces are to be bombed?
    The answer to this question is presumably, that it depends on how it will affect the short and long term security of America's oil supply.   Arabian Business - "S&P says Saudi unrest could have adverse global impact".

    earth Pop
  • Star - "Can the world still feed itself in 2050 when the global population hit 9.6 billion?"   Guardian - "This will be the Arab world's next battle".
    The interests that promote population growth and migration usually say that it is not a problem, because, after all, have we not coped up to now?
    Things that these interests don't tell you include -
    # Each generation tends to create a surplus that we all enjoy in the form of physical and intellectual assets that are passed on. But if the population is growing then this inheritance - per head - is diminished.
    # Given that it has not already hit a significant boundary or limit, a population can grow at a rapid pace - until the boundary or limit is reached, when there may then be catastrophic results.
    # The boundaries have to a very large extent been pushed back over the last century or two, but it is a major error to assume that new methods will always push boundaries back at a rate that accommodates growth.
    # Many of the "advances" that man has made to accommodate population growth have come at a cost - to man (overcrowding and poverty), to the environment (reduced natural spaces and increased pollution), and to the animals that are treated in inhumane ways to increase yields of affordable food.

    Friday 22 April 2011

    germany Bundesrepublik Deutschland rules out car tolls
  • Times Colonist - "Germany rules out highway tolls".

    britain" It's nice to have friends
  • BBC - "Prince Charles to fly to US in borrowed private plane".
    This particular friend seems to be well connected and was for a long time head of a Washington bank - Wiki - "Riggs Bank"   Wiki - "Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo". The bank was fined for the money laundering, though it is quite possible that the bank in this, and other things, was only acting for the US Government.

    earth Pop
  • Daily Mail - "We must halt the explosion in population to offer decent life for all, says Sir David Attenborough".
    An older comment on "The Last Taboo".

    earth AGW
  • Blowing hot and cold - NASA - "NASA Orbiter Reveals Big Changes in Mars' Atmosphere".
    You may wonder what this NASA report has to do with AGW (apart from the GISS arm of NASA being one of the main evangelists for AGW). The connection is that the atmosphere of Mars is 95 per cent CO2 (Earth's is about 0.4 per cent), yet the temperature on Mars is so cold (about minus 63 degrees Celsius) that, as per this report, a lot of the CO2 is frozen.
    Earth's other near neighbour is Venus, and like Mars has a lot (about 96 per cent) of CO2 in the atmosphere. It also has very high temperatures - said to be 464 degrees Celsius and claimed (based on very little data) as being at this temperature at all altitudes, day and night. As you might guess the high temperature on Venus is said to be due to the CO2.
    The main factor that affects planetary temperatures (average of day and night) is of course their distance from the Sun. Despite the NASA spin, the other big factor seems to be, not CO2, but the density of the atmosphere.

    Thursday 21 April 2011

    usa USA Roundup
  • Etolls fun - TCPalm (Florida) - "New turnpike toll system gets right name, but wrong person, plate and car ".

  • Sundry stories - Florida - "Local officials: Let us keep authority, take over area expressways"   Texas - "LBJ headaches to begin for Dallas commuters as 5-year project gets under way"   Virginia - "Bridge-tunnel proposals set aside for more study" comments   "Toll collectors offer N.J. Turnpike Authority concessions"   Washington State - "Consultant: Tunnel tolls will clog Seattle streets"   Connecticut - "Tolls on highways remain a bad move".

    britain" Latest annual figures from Motors sector
  • The Society Of Motor Manufacturers And Traders: Motor Industry Facts 2011 (pdf).

    britain" More disinformation from the Government
  • BBC - "Smog alert in England and Wales"   DEFRA - "High pollution episode warning: First “summer-smog” of 2011".
    There are two main lies. The first is that they deliberately don't tell people that the danger from ozone is greatest in country areas rather than in cities as most people think. The other main lie is the suggestion that the pollution mainly comes from cars. Cars do cause pollution, but they are only responsible for about 8 per cent of PM10s and about 12 per cent of Ozone - Our Air Quality section.

    australia NIMBY
  • Brisbane Times - "Push to move Moreland's Citylink toll point".

    Wednesday 20 April 2011

    usa USA Roundup
  • A developer in New Jersey wants more road tolls in the State. The reason given is that people and businesses are moving to Eastern Pennsylvania and "The road to Pennsylvania is free. Let there be a little pain when they go to Pennsylvania." - "Tolls and sales taxes find support in real estate group".
    Rather than bringing in tolls on the border, might it not be better for development if they removed the tolls within New Jersey?

  • Sundry stories - Maine - "Don't blame turnpike workers for bosses' excesses".

    tanzania More tolls for Africa?
  • New Vision - "Museveni woos road investors".
    Tanzania, like almost every other African country, is effectively a one party state. Perhaps they think that having foreign owned roads will make it less likely that the Government is interfered with!

    britain" Banks and the Cleaners
  • Banks take Government to the cleaners - BBC - "Banks paid too little for state help, say MPs"   Public Accounts Committee - "MPs report on the financial stability of UK banks".
    Banks get taken to the cleaners - BBC - "UK banks lose Payment Protection Insurance challenge".
    One area where the banks seem to be invulnerable from the courts and the politicians is interest rates. Most savers are ripped off as what they get is squeezed under the low borrowing rates and the big margins of the banks and the building societies, where the regulators generally seem to have little idea of what the banks and building societies are up to. Presumably the majority of judges and MPs are not savers!

    britain" From the Let Inflation Rip Committee
  • At the lsat meeting there were three who did not toe the line - BBC - "Bank of England policymakers remain split on rates"   BofE - "Minutes Of The Monetary Policy Committee Meeting 6 And 7 April 2011" pdf.
    The aim of the Old Lady and the Government is not to reduce inflation, it is to reduce the real size of Government debt and to reduce most people's incomes by a gradual devaluation of the pound (domestically and internationally). Such policies usually cause substantial labour unrest, which makes things worse than if the authorities had done nothing. This time the authorities may be successful because over the last decade or two, the work force has been largely emasculated.

    earth Peacekeeping
  • Britain and France are to increase their overt support for the rebels in Libya - BBC - "Abdul Ati al-Obeidi warns UK plan may worsen war".

    earth Pop
  • Don't worry - Chatham House - "Global Demography: Population Inflation".
    The writer says that "The media is alive with projections that the global population will reach seven billion people by the end of 2011" but "the seven billion mark will only be reached by 2012-13". The reality is that most people in the news media will have no idea what the total population is. Given that the British Government has not got an accurate idea of Britain's population figure, it is unlikely that world figures are accurate and we may already have reached seven billion.
    The writer also suggests that the total population may fall, and mentions a range going down to a total world population of only two billion by the 2100s. This fall will apparently be due to increased prosperity and in particular to improved education for women. This ignores the effect of those religions where large families are generally encouraged. As the proportion of the world's population that is adherents of those religions will automatically increase, this factor will at least partly offset other factors which will tend to lower overall growth rates.

    Tuesday 19 April 2011

    usa USA Roundup
  • Sundry stories - Ohio - "Bill would prohibit deal for turnpike" comments   "For Sale: Ohio Turnpike?" video   Florida - "Expressway Authority Wants To Spend $1.4B Over 5 Years" video   Texas - "Toll road violator reaches plea deal"   DC / Virginia - "Dulles rail decisions generate lawsuit, audit".

    ireland More on proposal for more Irish tolls
  • Herald - "More road tolls? Madness. They just punish us motorists and cause jams".

    indonesia More on Jakarta Con
  • Berita Jakarta - "Four Companies Interested to Invest in ERP"   Jakarta Globe - "Waiting for ERP? Won't Happen This Year".

    europe Bit more on Tolls Über Alles
  • Europolitics - "Eurovignette: Express delivery sector concerned about costs".

    wales More quibling
  • BBC - "Severn bridge cash-only toll shut 'for weeks' by fault".
    "Motoring organisations" and politicians seem to be very concerned about being able to pay tolls using credit cards or about problems at toll booths, but they never call for the tolls to be removed.

    earth Pop
  • The President of the Phillipines is trying to do something about pop growth, but the Catholic Church are fighting him - Manila Standard Today - "Aquino shrugs off excommunication".
    Fifty years ago the population was 29 million, now it is 102 million.

    Monday 18 April 2011

    usa USA Roundup
  • Sundry stories - Florida - "Battle brewing over your Expressway tolls" video   California - "What’s next for the South Bay Expressway?".

    ireland More Irish tolls
  • Joe - "Tolled roads to double".

    germany German tolls?
  • The Local - "Road tolls canvassed in secret ministry paper".
    The few details sound more like a vignette designed in the spirit of EU unity to catch non German vehicles. The chance of German motorists accepting a real toll system is zero.

    greece Bit more on Greek Government bailing out toll roads
  • New Europe - "The Greek way of building roads".

    britain" Route barred
  • Telegraph - "M1 remains the road to nowhere with chaos set to drag on for days". (Since this story was published, there are reports that the M1 could be partly closed for even longer - BBC - "Roads Minister Mike Penning: Damage to M1 'very serious'" video.)
    It is normal when there is an accident for the authorities to give great weight to the possible health and safety effects if they don't close a road and to completely ignore the costs (including possible accidents) if they do close it. It is also normal for them to ignore risks such as that from allowing the storage of scrap and gas cylinders under one of Britain's busiest roads.

    earth Pop
  • Telegraph - "Hungary considers giving mothers extra votes".
    What this story does not say is that Hungary has a low birth rate (down to one child per woman), except for the minority who are "Roma" who have a very high birth rate (about 7 chidren per woman). It is not clear whether the aim of this right wing proposal is to increase the total Hungarian population or a forlorn attempt to stop the gradual ethnic shift.

    Sunday 17 April 2011

    usa USA Roundup
  • Sundry stories - Oregon / Washington State - "Politicians need to get focused on new I-5 Columbia River bridge"   California - "The future of a bankrupt toll road"   DC / Virginia - "N.Va. toll fight has ripples statewide".

    Saturday 16 April 2011

    usa USA Roundup
  • Ohio Toll Road for sale - Toledo Blade - "Turnpike turnover"   Toledo Blade - "Leasing turnpike too costly" letter   Toledo Blade - "Turnpike may be leased, not sold, ODOT chief says"   Trucker / AP - "Ohio willing to lease toll road, but won't sell it".

  • More on the legal threat to the DC Airport's cash cow - Washington Post - "Federal, Va. officials object to underground Metro station at Dulles airport"   Consumer Affairs - "Revolutionary Road: DC Motorists Protest Toll Road Taxes".

    south Bit more on new tolls
  • IoL - "Govt handed petition against tolls".

    earth Peacekeeping
  • BBC - "Libya conflict: Gaddafi 'cluster bombing Misrata'".
    Whoever in Libya may or may not have been using cluster bombs, which are "banned by more than 100 countries", America used them in Afghanistan, and according to Wikipedia, Britain and America between them dropped two million cluster bombs on Iraq.

    Friday 15 April 2011

    usa USA Roundup
  • We reported yesterday on the GOP in Indiana giving the Governor the absolute power to toll new roads. The press is spinning this as a victory for drivers, as he was not also given the power to toll existing lanes - Courier & Press - "Indiana House committee moves to block toll roads".

  • Drivers take it out on the toll collectors who earn up tp $76 thousand - Kennebec Journal (Maine) - "Collecting tolls, and anger, on turnpike".

  • A rare case of a newspaper defending the gas tax - Bangor Daily (Maine) - "Don’t Abandon Gas Tax".
    Putting this story with the previous one, you have the answer as to why Maine politicians favour tolls over gas tax. With gas taxes it is harder to commit highway robbery and then share the loot out.

  • Sundry stories - - "Virginia: Toll Road Users Sue Over Diversion of Funds to Rail"   DC / Virginia - "Federal lawsuit filed against MWAA"   DC / Virginia - "VA Secy of Transportation: Dulles Project 'Almost Impossible' to Fund"   Illinois - "Cashing out on I-74 bridge toll proposal".

    nigeria More unofficial tolls
  • Inside All Africa - "Check Police Extortion on College Road".

    canada Toll tales from Canada
  • More of the Montreal Gazette campaign for tolls - "Who'll pay for the bridge?".

    greece Greek Government to bail out toll road plans
  • Forex - "Debt-laden Greece offers guarantees to save toll roads".

    earth Peacekeeping
  • BBC - "Libya: Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy vow Gaddafi must go".
    Going by the experience in the West's wars against Serbia and Iraq, Britain and France may soon need a rest from bombing while they replenish supplies and arm anti Government forces. So we may soon have a truce.
    The news media largely repeat Government propaganda, and the majority of people may believe that the sole aim of the war is to protect "civilians". The latest Amnesty International report, has this to say about the oppressive "regime" - "The authorities used a wide range of repressive measures to suppress freedom of expression and other legitimate activities. Hundreds of people were arrested as suspected terrorists. Thousands of others arrested in the name of security in previous years remained in jail; they included prisoners of conscience. Some 330 security suspects received unfair trials before a newly constituted but closed specialized court; one was sentenced to death and 323 were sentenced to terms of imprisonment.
    Women continued to face severe discrimination in law and practice, despite some signs of reform. The state did little to tackle widespread violence against women, particularly against domestic workers. Shi’a Muslims and others were targeted for practising their faith. The rights of migrants, refugees and asylumseekers were violated. The administration of justice remained shrouded in secrecy and was summary in nature. Torture and other ill-treatment of detainees were systematic and carried out with impunity. Sentences of flogging were regularly imposed. The death penalty was used extensively. At least 69 people were executed, including two juvenile offenders."

    Actually, the above is not really describing Libya, it is Amnesty describing the country that is possibly the main paymaster for the war against Gaddafi, but there isn't much harm in the news media twisting the facts a bit more.

    Thursday 14 April 2011

    usa USA Roundup
  • GOP in Indiana gives the Governor the absolute power to toll new roads - Indy Channel - "House Approves Toll Road Compromise" video.

  • States to collaborate on tolls enforcement - Seacoast Online - "N.H., Mass., Maine eye deal to target toll cheats".

  • Sundry stories - NY - "New Hochul commercial touts effort to fight Thruway tolls"   W Virginia - "Toll relief: Time to take advantage of discounts"   Illinois - "I-74 toll isn’t pie in the sky"   DC - "Local leaders to pull funding for Dulles Metro project?".

    costarica Autopistas Del Sol takes the prize
  • Inside Costa Rica - "Autopistas Del Sol Tolls Highest In Costa Rica And Latin America".

    south Bit more on new tolls
  • Fin24 - "Union to protest against tolls".

    australia Tolls system trouble
  • Brisbane Times - "Motorists stung after toll glitch"   Courier Mail - "Clem7 and Gateway Motorway toll glitch could sting motorists".

    europe Bit more on Tolls Über Alles
  • European Voice - "Parliament paves way for ‘polluter-pays' law".

    london MP's Con claim turned down for lack of receipts
  • This is South Devon - "MP's £32 congestion charge expenses claim refused".

    earth Pop
  • The PM pretending that he will limit immigration - BBC - "Cameron promises to cut immigration to '1980s' levels'".
    Even if the PM really wanted to do something, then he would be stopped by those interests that benefit from pop growth. And even if immigration could be restricted to a low level, Britain's pop would still increase due to the high fertility rates of those migrants already here.

  • Church still pushing for more pop growth - Catholic News Agency - "Poverty not reduced by population control, states Vatican’s UN observer".

    earth AGW
  • More Global Warming doom from the BBC - "Red and Arctic foxes clash in Russia ".

  • Latest global temp figures - GISS - "GLOBAL Land-Ocean Temperature Index".
    As usual taking the figures at face value, March was 0.57 degrees Celsius warmer than what they say was the average for 1951 - 1980. Taking the hot year of 1998 as a starting point, this makes March 2011, according to them, the 8th warmest out of 13.

    Wednesday 13 April 2011

    usa USA Roundup
  • Texas using Federal money and gas tax to support building of more toll roads - Star-Telegram - "Texas puts up $6 billion in gas tax funds to guarantee toll roads for 20 years".

  • Another Editor selling tolls - Fox (Alabama) - "Editorial: toll roads".

  • Sundry stories - DC - "MWAA to Dulles Toll Road users: Shut up and pay"   Indiana - "Lawmakers Back Off Controversial Toll Road Bill" video   N Carolina - "Transportation leaders considering adding toll road to I-77"   New Jersey - "Garden State Parkway union offers givebacks".

    ireland Dublin Con may be on the way
  • Irish Times - "Transport strategy takes toll on drivers".

    europe Bit more on Tolls Über Alles
  • Bit more on MEPs voting for higher lorry tolls, with the proceeds being spent on anything - Express - "EU Tolls Soar For Truckers"   European Parliament - "Eurovignette: a hard-fought compromise on a "fair price" for road transport".

    canada Toll tales from Canada
  • Comment on more tolls for B.C. - BC Local - "Tolling should not be expanded".

  • Anti-drivers group joins in the Montreal Gazette campaign for tolls - "Tolls urged for new Champlain Bridge".

    earth AGW
  • Fish flee from the Global Warming conflagration, with a little help from the Government - Telegraph - "Fish carried up a mountain on backs of llamas to escape global warming".

    Tuesday 12 April 2011

    europe Latest on Tolls Über Alles
  • Euractiv - "MEPs stand firm on re-investing road toll cash".

    britain" Fall in value of sterling slows a bit
  • BBC - "UK inflation rate falls to 4% in March"   ONS - "Consumer price indices March 2011" pdf.
    The more widely based RPI has only fallen from 5.5 to 5.3 per cent, so the Government and the Old Lady are still largely succeeding in their target of reducing the worth of money. At the current rate of inflation, the pound will, as it were, be worth only 50 pence in 9 years.
    Within the index, one of the items showing the largest inflation is fuel for "personal transport equipment"; month on month it is 2.7 per cent inflation and over the last 12 months it is 15.9 per cent.

    usa USA Roundup
  • The Governor of Washington State is so besotted with tolls, that she is complaining about a delay in starting tolls on a currently free crossing - KirovTv - "Gregoire: Delay On HWY 520 Bridge Tolls 'Unacceptable'"   Seattle Times - "Highway 520 floating bridge tolls delayed to June" lot of comments.

  • The trolls at HNTB have published another one of their surveys which claim that people support more tolls far more than any other method of paying for infrastructure - American City & County - "Survey: Americans support infrastructure investment"   HNTB survey 2011(pdf).
    The 44 per cent in favour of tolls compares with 39 per cent in the last survey - HNTB survey 2010(pdf). The numbers not prepared to pay in any way for more infrastructure was slightly up, oddly so was the number of people plumping for the various ways to pay (some people chose more than one). Those who chose higher gas taxes increased from 18 per cent to 28 per cent, which is another odd result, given that gas prices are already higher than a year ago.

  • Sundry stories - Land Line Mag - "Rhode Island bills would ban tolls on two bridges"   Land Line Mag - "Return of Connecticut tolls one step closer; diesel tax hike sought"   Washington State - "Taxpayers Still Paying For "Bridge to Nowhere"".

    earth Pop
  • From one of the few groups that dares to say that population growth is a problem -Californians for Population Stabilization - "Earth Day: Population growth is the overwhelming, and overlooked, problem".
    California in 1900 had 1.5 million people, by 1950 it was 10.6 million, today it is over 39 million. It's no wonder that some of California's roads look like very long car parks.

    earth AGW
  • Man made CO2 is killing the penguins - BBC - "Penguins suffer as Antarctic krill declines".
    What are the chances that any scientists are being paid to come up with evidence that increased CO2, or any warming related to it, are actually benefitting life on Earth?

    Monday 11 April 2011

    usa USA Roundup
  • SF Examiner - "Evading tolls on Bay Area bridges might cost you your car".

  • Sundry stories - DC / Maryland - "Has the ICC Proven Itself to be Folly? "   Washington State - "I-405 tolls close to becoming reality".

    bangladesh Bangladesh Con
  • Financial Express - "Congestion charging: An option to reduce traffic jam".
    Bangladesh population in 1950 - 46 million, now - 158 million.

    israel Israel Con
  • Globes - "Gov't plans Tel Aviv congestion charge".
    Israel population in 1950 - 1.3 million, now - 7.5 million.

    earth AGW
  • Time for a nitrogen tax?   Nitrogen pollution 'costs EU up to £280bn a year'   Nitrogen in Europe - "European Nitrogen Assessment".
    Though the emphasis is on farming, part of the report deals with other sources and says (in chapter 12) that the source of 58 per cent of the Nox in Greater London is - road transport. The National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory gives sources for all emissions in Britain as a whole, and according to that, cars are responsible for about 10 per cent of all Nox emissions if natural sources are included.

    earth Peacekeeping
  • BBC - "Libya: Gaddafi government accepts truce plan, says Zuma"   BBC - "Ivory Coast: New air strikes near Gbagbo residence".
    As usual, the news contains lies and omits to give the full picture. On Libya - "Nato says its planes destroyed 25 government tanks on Sunday alone." Unless the Libyan Government troops have a death wish, it is extremely unlikely that they would be anywhere near a tank. So what are NATO bombing?
    Apart from the usual one sided war reporting, there is no mention of the big mystery. The West seems to be abandoning those Governments (unless they are ruled by the sheikhs), who, whatever else they did, were helping to oppose Muslim extremism. In some cases, the West is also using overt bombing and covert special forces to bring down these Governments. So what is the aim of this new policy?

    Sunday 10 April 2011

    india Update on Indian tolls
  • Deccan Herald - "For whom the levy tolls".

    spain portugal Drivers from both sides of border demonstrate against tolls
  • Reader - "Anti-toll demostrate at Spanish-Portuguese border".

    usa USA Roundup
  • Though nearly all existing toll roads are money spinners, proposed new tolls face difficulties even where the Federal Government is slipping them a few dollars - Courier Post - "Delaware roads: Midstate highway faces more obstacles"   News Tribune - "$1.4M in federal funds OK'd for Knik bridge".

  • Two letters - Pennsylvania - "Pa. drivers privileged to pay state three ways"   Washington State - "Just say no to light rail and tolls".

    Saturday 9 April 2011

    usa USA Roundup
  • More on a Federal judge ruling as legal, tolls that discriminate according to where you live - Providence Journal - "Court affirms discounted Pell Bridge tolls for residents".

  • More on to be or not to be - Fox - "Fla. Senate backs off on SunPass discount repeal"   Orlando Sentinel - "Bypass this road bill".

  • Sundry stories - Indiana - "Controversial legislation could lead to truck-only toll lanes on I-70".

    canada Toll tales from Canada
  • Montreal Gazette selling tolls - "Let's be smart about a new bridge".

    usa Paper cut
  • BBC - "US Congress agrees last-minute budget deal"   ABC News - "No Government Shutdown: Officials Agree to Deadline Deal".
    The American economy is like a juggernaut which is already dead, it just has not crashed to the ground yet. The Federal budget deficit for the year just starting is projected to be 1,645 billion dollars - OMB. The agreed cuts will make little difference to that deficit or the waste and corruption. If the President and Congress really wanted a more efficient America, then they could start by scrapping all tolls, increasing the Federal gas tax, and agreeing a fair formula as to how it will be distributed.

    earth AGW
  • More nonsense / science from the BBC - BBC - "Carbon emissions linked to Europe's hay fever rise". The link from this story to another BBC story "Climate change 'will increase heart deaths'" shows where the BBC is coming from.
    The real facts are that all life is carbon based, and that plant life benefits from increased CO2 - in greenhouses they aim to boost it from 400 ppm to 1,000 ppm. Doubling CO2 increases "C3" plant yields by 41 per cent and "C4" plant yields by 22 per cent ("The Direct and Indirect Effects of Increased Carbon Dioxide on Plant Growth"), most of the plants used for food are type C3.
    The burning of fossil fuels has so far increased CO2 by about 100 ppm, without this increase, there is little doubt that a lot more people would be going hungry.

    Friday 8 April 2011

    usa USA Roundup
  • A Federal judge has ruled as legal, tolls that discriminate according to where you live - Providence Journal - "Judge: Discounted bridge tolls for RI residents constitutional".

  • Small beer, compared with what is stolen from drivers by the trolls that run the toll roads - - "Three N.J. Turnpike toll collectors accused in theft that netted $10K this year" lots of comments.

  • To be or not to be - Orlando Sentinel - "Senate prez: SunPass discounts will survive"   Tampa Bay Online - "Florida Senate votes to end SunPass discounts".

  • Sundry stories - California - "Number Of Bay Area Bridge Toll Violators On The Rise" video   Rhode Island - "Panel told tolls could pay for R.I. road projects"   DC / Virginia - "A shocking revelation"   DC / Virginia - "Decision to put Dulles Metro underground draws criticism"   Washington State - "Metro’s emissions plan must cut traffic"   Columbia River Crossing - "Rivers firm in opposing CRC tolls".

    london Possibility of tougher rules for Carbon perk
  • Fleet News - "New 80g/km threshold proposed for congestion charge discount".

    britain" One law for the Rich
  • "News of the World apologises for phone hacking scandal".
    The Royals and other people in the public eye make their money from publicity, but get to share in twenty million pounds of "compensation", while those organisations that oppose authority are under electronic surveillance by the Government and local authorities, under the shadow of RIPA - that is something that you will never read about in the News of the World or any other newspaper.

    earth AGW plus
  • More nonsense from the BBC - BBC - "New York set to be big loser as sea levels rise".

    london Damascene conversion?
  • Evening Standard - "Ken Livingstone: I won't bring back the C-charge extension if I'm Mayor"   Telegraph - "Ken Livingstone: my policies "make no sense" "   Guardian - "Ken Livingstone: his congestion charge shift and other intriguing adjustments".

    britain" Privatisation
  • DfT - "The terms of reference for a wide-ranging independent review of the Strategic Road Network (SRN) has been published today by Transport Secretary Philip Hammond.".
    The aim is probably to see how far the Government can get away with spending even less on the roads, and bringing in more tolls, while still masquerading as the "friend of the motorist".

    britain" Lib Dems want Kent Con
  • Kent Online - "Should Kent get a congestion charge?" comments.

    wales More crumbs on offer
  • This is South Wales - "Plaid Cymru pledge to cut toll for Severn Bridge to less than £2".
    You can tell when it's election time, as the politicians come out with gigantic whoppers. None of the parties have lifted a finger to do anything to get the Severn tolls reduced and removed. And the "promise" to reduce tolls "within the next decade" is an insult, as under the current law the tolls should be removed altogether in about five years.

    united Sheikhs short of Dirhams?
  • National - "Dubai to sell future Salik receipts to finance projects"   Khaleej Times - "Dubai to raise Dh2.9b on Salik securitisation"   Financial Times - "Dubai to raise $800m on road tolls".

    portugal Delay to new tolls in Portugal
  • Portugal News Online - "Polls before tolls".

    italy Delay to new tolls in Italy
  • AGI - "ANAS To Dely Introduction Of Tolls".

    india More on Delhi Con
  • Mid-Day - "A new tax in town?"   Economic Times - "Delhi may soon levy congestion fee on vehicles".

    canada Toll tales from Canada
  • More on temporary tolls reduction on empty bridge, from a troll - BC Local - "The toll experiment", from an unbeliever - BC Local - "TransLink should be history".

  • Bit more on the recently removed toll - BC Local - "The toll experiment", from an unbeliever - Telegraph-Journal - "Liberals cast doubt on bridge pact".

    south Bit more on new tolls
  • News24 - "DA supports ANCYL on tolls" comments   Times Live - "DA supports ANCYL on tolls" same story, different comments.

    britain" Old Lady keeps on feeding inflation
  • BBC - "UK interest rates held at record low of 0.5%"   BofE - "Bank of England maintains Bank Rate at 0.5% and the size of the Asset Purchase Programme at £200 billion".

  • Not suprisingly the combined effects of what the Old Lady is doing and the "peacekeeping" in Libya is that oil prices are up - BBC - "Oil prices surge to fresh two and a half year highs".
    Most currencies are sick, including the dollar, so the pound is not doing that badly against the dollar (it currently buys about $1.61, as against $1.50 at the time of the General Election and $2.00 three years ago), but whatever the sterling rate is, it is lower than it should be because of the low interest rates, and thus inflation in Britain is higher.

    earth Peacekeeping
  • BBC - "Nato refuses to apologise for strike on Libya rebels".
    It is not clear whether some people at NATO believe all their propaganda about bombing Libya to protect civilans, or whether they don't like to admit that they fired on their own side by mistake.

  • BBC - "Ivory Coast: More than 100 bodies found, says UN".
    You may be puzzled why France, the UN and Euroland are helping one side in a conflict where there is no oil. Part of the answer is that the country is the world's biggest supplier of cocoa beans. The other part is that when the UN backed President was last in power, he sems to have privatised everything and introduced road tolls!

    earth AGW
  • BBC - "New warning on Arctic ice melt".
    Despite what almost everyone believes, we are still in the "Pliocene-Quaternary" Ice Age, though we are in a warm interlude (known as the "Holocene" interglacial). Being in an interglacial means that sea ice melts and glaciers retreat until the next glacial period within the Ice Age (or the Ice Age ends). Any retreat of the ice, does not mean that it is getting warmer, though an increase in the rate of ice melt would do so. Anyway, how many would bet that (as per this report which cites 2016 give or take three years) there may be no ice in the Arctic in the summer of 2013?

  • Last Weather Action press release (30th March) pdf.

    Thursday 7 April 2011

    britain" chimaera Fat Cats still pushing road tolls
  • CBI - "UK needs strategic vision for road network".

    canada Toll tales from Canada
  • Bit more on the tolls that were removed - Times&Transcript - "Saint John Harbour Bridge debt questioned by Opposition".

  • Bit more on temporary tolls reduction on empty bridge - BC Local - "Toll reduction a unique idea".

    south Bit more on new tolls
  • Times Live - "AScrap Gauteng tolls, ANC youth demands" comments.

    wales Crumbs on offer
  • BBC - "Tories would freeze Severn Bridge tolls for car drivers".

    britain" Can't count
  • BBC - "7m households face Census visit".
    If significant numbers avoid appearing on the Census, there is no point in having a "100 per cent" survey. The official form return rate for the 2001 Census was only 94 per cent, though this was somehow bumped up to 98 per cent by enumerators completing estimated returns for some households (it is not clear how enumerators knew how many people there were in these households, let alone how they could have guessed the answers to the numerous other questions).

    earth AGW
  • Wind unlikely to help with energy - John Muir Trust - "Report Questions Wind Power’s Ability to Deliver Electricity When Most Needed".

    Wednesday 6 April 2011

    usa USA Roundup
  • Turnpike trouble - Land Line Mag - "Panel subpoenas former Maine Turnpike CEO"   Sun-Journal - "12 to testify about Turnpike Authority spending".

  • Papers turn into trolls - Montgomery Advertiser (Alabama) - "Editorial: Toll roads can be useful tool"   Statesman-Journal - "Are toll roads in Oregon’s future?".
    The Alabama editorial prompted this in a Florida newspaper - Times-Union - "Alabama to look at toll roads; could Florida be next?". The headline is a bit like one saying should we bring sand to Nevada!

  • Sundry stories - Indiana - "Question of Tolls on I-69 Concern Legislators, Drivers" video   Washington State - "Amendment targets tolls on I-405"   "If Connecticut Gets Toll Roads, what's to Distinguish Us from New Jersey?"   Maryland - "PETA offers ads as toll-reduction plan"   DC / Maryland - "ICC Traffic Down, Fees Up"   DC / Maryland - "ICC logs a third of initial traffic after tolls levied".
    Washington State - "Changing commutes"   Illinois - "Tolls forecast for scaled-back Elgin-O’Hare expansion"   Kentucky / Ohio - "Local leaders lean against Brent Spence tolls".

    europe Europe and tags
  • NASDAQ - "EU, Companies, Privacy Watchdogs Sign Agreement On RFID Chips".
    No matter what this piece of paper says, lots of people will have access to TAG information, both officially and not.

    south More on new tolls
  • ITWeb - "April reveal for e-toll talks"   Sowetan Live - "Gauteng tolls more than richer countries"   Business Day - "High Gauteng tolls ‘could undo project’s economic benefits’"   Times Live - "Road tolls 'exorbitant' by world standards" comments   Times Live - "'State needs toll fees regulator'"   Fin24 - "Minister to get tolls report by end-April"   Fin24 - "Toll fees to hike bread, milk prices" comments   Times Live - "Sanral defends Gauteng road toll fees"   Business Live - "Toll fees equal 2% rise in income tax - economist".

    hongkong Question and answer on HK tolls
  • 7th Space - "Tolls of the three road harbour crossings".

    canada Toll tales from Canada
  • The trolls at one paper complain about the tolls being removed - Daily Gleaner - "Be careful what you vote for".

  • More on tolls being temporarily reduced on empty bridge - Vancouver Sun - "A problem with too many tolls? Or too few?" video   Ctv - "Are you paying the price by not paying the toll?" video   BC Local - "News Views: Discounted rate"   Global BC - "Golden Ears toll reduced 30 per cent".

  • Langley Advance - "Bridge tolls: Langley mayor has a valid point" letter.

    australia Effect of tolls reduction on empty tunnel
  • Brisbane Times - "Traffic falls as Clem7 tolls rise"   Courier Mail - "Clem7 tunnel toll rise leads to another fall in traffic" lots of comments.
    Where there is an alternative for drivers, most of them will avoid a toll, whatever the price. But those who do use a toll road, despite a free alternative, tend to be price insensitive, so toll operators will make more profits (or smaller losses) with prices high, even though traffic will be less.

    britain" Bit more on Liverpool toll increase
  • Wirral News - "Thirteen people turn up to protest tunnel tolls increase".

    earth AGW
  • According to the Met Office almost everywhere in Britain was a lot hotter than usual in March - "The UK mean temperature for the month was 0.6 °C above the 1971-2000 average" - March Climate summary.

  • A "Hole" in the Ozone, this time over the North Pole as well as the South. The hole has been caused by colder than normal conditions in the stratosphere, which are said to be due to "climate change" - European Space Agency - "Record loss of ozone over Arctic".

    Tuesday 5 April 2011

    south More on new tolls
  • East Coast Radio - "Road tolls 'excessive': report"   East Coast Radio - "Gauteng tolls to hurt the poor" comments.

    canada Toll tales from Canada
  • Tolls temporarily reduced on empty bridge - Vancouver Sun - "Golden Ears toll reduced 30 per cent"   Maple Ridge News - "Toll discounts to be tested on Golden Ears Bridge"   Global BC - "Golden Ears Bridge reduced-tolls set for April 1"   CBC - "TransLink tests lower Golden Ears tolls" video and lots of comments   Province - "Reduced-fare rates for Golden Ears set for test run April 15" lots of comments.
    The trolls must be mad to think that this limited concession will have any effect, but they have suppoprters in the local press - BC Local - "Editorial — A step in the right direction". What will eventually bail the trolls out is population growth - which is why the trolls want more babies and more immigrants.

    australia Prof sells tolls, without mentioning the dreaded word
  • Business Spectator - "Congestion tax – the great traffic jam breaker".

    britain" Pop
  • BBC - "Migration policy figures missing, say Oxford academics".

    earth Peacekeeping
  • BBC - "Arms export deals: MPs criticise UK's stance"   Parliament - "Scrutiny of Arms Export Controls (2011): UK Strategic Export Controls Annual Report 2009, Quarterly Reports for 2010, licensing policy and review of export control legislation" pdf.
    The concern of MPS over arms sales is limited. The report indicates that they are aware that Saudi Arabia has used weapons supplied by Britain to attack Yemen in 2009 and 2010 and more recently to help Bahrain stop the recent protests, but they do not suggest doing anything to stop arms sales to what is one of our biggest customers.
    Arms sales prsumably does not cover the supply, announced yesterday, of "communications" equipment to the Libyan rebels. This equpiment is probably devices that will help to identify rebel vehicles when NATO is attacking cars and trucks.

  • BBC - "David Cameron 'to seek fresh start' in Pakistan visit".
    According to the last annual report from Amnesty (pdf), about our ally, in parts of the country - "... civilians faced severe abuses, including arbitrary arrest and detention; torture and other ill-treatment; a near total absence of due judicial process; stringent restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly; religious and ethnic discrimination; and violence and discrimination against women and girls...".
    Amnesty also complained about Libya, including the treatment of "Former detainees at Guantánamo Bay returned to Libya by US authorities".

    Monday 4 April 2011

    usa USA Roundup
  • Star Ledger (New Jersey) - "Citizens Against Tolls tells the Gov how to help drivers".

  • Sundry stories - New Jersey - "Rethink plan for toll cheats"   "Coming Soon: Connecticut Tolls?"   Connecticut - "State issues A real toll on the facts"   "Alabama governor considers adding toll roads to meet transportation needs amid budget woes".
    Columbia River Crossing - "State may look into private bridge funding"   "Are tolls on I-95 in Pennsylvania’s future?"   Indiana - "Toll Road rates to rise for most users in July" comments   "Drivers' complaints about North Texas Tollway Authority leading to legislative action".

    britain" Liverpool toll increase
  • BBC - "Mersey tunnel toll protest turnout disappoints campaigners".
    There is more about yesterday's protest against this increase here - Mersey Tunnels Users Association.

    canada Toll tales from Canada
  • Some negative reaction to removal of toll - Telegraph-Journal - "Bye-bye tolls, hello bridge disrepair?".

    britain" Pay back
  • "Mortgage pay-off at a new record".
    This could be one explanation of why over recent months, there has not been a big increase in money supply despite the efforts of the Inflation "King".
    Bizarrely most of the payback will be because of artificially low interest rates combined with a very high net interest spread (difference between interest rates when borrowing and lending money) enjoyed by the banks. This means that there is a big incentive to repay borrowings rather than use the same money as savings. As borrowers are also paying less interest, it also means that they have more money to repay debt - unless they lose their job.

    earth Peacekeeping
  • BBC - "Ivory Coast: Ouattara forces promise Abidjan offensive".
    The French miltiary involvement in the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire goes back at least 8 years, during which they have fought against both sides in the dispute between the two Presidents, with the UN backing the one from the Muslim north against the one from the Christian south, where the capital is currently under siege by northern forces. A few days ago, hundreds of civilians died as the northern forces took over Duekoue. Once the UN backed President has control of the whole country, it it not clear whether civilians will be any better off than if the French and the UN had kept away.

  • BBC - "RAF planning for six months in Libya, says chief".
    The official fighting is most unlikely to last six months, as either there will be a deal where Gaddafi steps down or the West will increase its support for the rebels till he does. As usual there is the fog of war compounded by one sided reporting. But it seems that the rebels may be working on the assumption that anyone with a dark skin is a "mercenary" in the pay of the Government and it is not known what happens to them.

    Saturday 2 April 2011

    usa USA Roundup
  • Letter querying the legality of border tolls - Asbury Park Press - "Higher E-ZPass charges to out-of-staters faulted".
    Whether this is legal or not, it is certainly against the priniciple of "united" states.

  • Speed limit increased to encourage truckers to use toll road - Plain Dealer - "Ohio Turnpike drivers can press the pedal a bit more as speed limit climbs to 70 mph".

  • Another politician who wants tolls rather than the gas tax - WTOP - "Va. House Speaker: Gas tax is 'dinosaur tax'".

  • Florida may end tag discounts - Orlando Business Journal- "Big Brother on your ID and no more toll discounts?"   WPTV - "Higher tolls for Sunpass users, maybe even on side streets" video   WTSP - "Florida lawmakers may drive away Sunpass discounts" video.

  • April Fool in Wisconsin - WTOP - "Newspaper fools on April Fools'" video.

  • Sundry stories - Connecticut - "Legislators Mull Reinstituting Tolls"   Texas - "Committee passes bill to curb excessive tollway fees"   California - "Crucial Questions Remain As Golden Gate Bridge Plans Future Without Toll Takers".

    canada Toll tales from Canada
  • One bridge toll gone, at last - Telegraph-Journal - "End of an era"   Daily Gleaner - "Grits rip deal to remove tolls from bridge"   Times&Transcript - "Bridge toll removed in Saint John"   Telegraph-Journal- "Bridge tolls gone".

    Friday 1 April 2011

    europe britain" ABD comment on Tolls Ueber Alles plan
  • "ABD Opposes Back Door Road Pricing in New Proposals".

    usa USA Roundup
  • Sundry stories - Virginia - "IOW supervisors need to stand against bridge toll"   "Delaware budget: DelDOT may face nearly $1B hole" comments.
    New Jersey - "Christie aide: Tolls or gas tax eventually must rise"   "Ex-Tollway employee charged with stealing tolls"   New Jersey - "Stricter toll enforcement is problematic on Parkway".
    Nevada - "Senate bill seeks toll road around Boulder City"   Washington State - "More services for Asians? An unexpected benefit in tolling"   Texas - "No more huge late fees for tolls".

    britain" Count Dracula comes to Whitby
  • Whitby Gazette - "Whitby to get congestion charge".

    europe britain" Tolls Ueber Alles comes to Dartford
  • Kent Online - "Toll changes mean drivers pay in Euros".

    canada Toll tales from Canada
  • The political ball passing means that tolls have not been removed on bridge - Times&Transcript - "Tolls to stay in S.J."   Telegraph-Journal - "Don't put away those quarters"   CBC - "Saint John bridge tolls still in place".
    PS CBC - "Tolls will be lifted: Boudreau".

  • Toll increase - Chronicle Herald - "Harbour bridge tolls rise today".

  • Montreal paper pushes for tolls on a currently free bridge - Gazette - "Champlain Bridge: let's ensure we do the right thing".

    australia Queueing to get OFF the toll road
  • The Age - "Freeway to a dead end".

    britain" National Health Service?
  • BBC - "Prescription charges abolished in Scotland".
    It is not surprising that England gets the worst deal in almost everything. Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have their own governments; English law and administration comes under the control of MPs from the whole of the UK.

    britain" The choice is no choice at all
  • BBC - "Ad campaign to raise awareness of voting referendum".
    Northern Ireland has the single transferrable vote system but with six member consitutencies, the overall effect is close to full PR.
    Scotland has the additional member system where just over half the MSPs are elected on first past the post, but the rest of MSPs are selected to give an overall efect which again is close to full PR.
    Wales also has an additional member system, but with an unusual variation which is again close to full PR but not as close as Scotland.
    The system proposed for Westminster elections is the alternative vote system with one member consitutencies. Not only is this nowhere near proper PR, it is also unfair as it gives some voters more than one bite at the apple.

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