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Saturday 29 May 2010

usa USA Roundup
  • Sundry stories - California - "Golden Gate Bridge to charge carpoolers $3 toll"   California - "Golden Gate Bridge to charge carpoolers for the first time beginning July 1"   Louisiana - "WBR Council OKs authority to build La. 1, I-10 toll road".

    earth AGW
  • Canada whipped by Mexico - Globe and Mail - "Mexico's President pushes Ottawa to act on climate change".
    In 1950, the population of Mexico was 28 million, it is now 112 million, despite mass emigration to the north. By the end of this century, the Mexicans won't be pushing the Canadians, they will be El Canadians.

  • More witchcraft - WateronLine - "20th Century One Of Driest In Nine Centuries For Northwest Africa". This study says "One of the most important ways to understand the climate variability is to use the proxy record, and one of the most reliable proxy records is tree rings ... The team found the region's 20th-century drying trend matches what climate models predict will occur as the climate warms."
    All plant life (and indirectly animal life) depends on four things - sunlight, warmth, water and CO2. It will also be affected by many other things. Despite this, the width of tree rings has been widely used by the AGW camp as a proxy for past temperatures and when from selected samples there was more growth, the AGW scientists said that this was due to greater warmth.
    Unfortunately samples of tree ring growth since the 1980s have not show increased growth. The AGW explanation for this is that a plant's growth will be determined not by an incresae in all the factors, but by an increase in what ever factor(s) are low and are stunting it. If this factor was warmth, then increasing warming will increase growth up to a point when temperature is optimum, and then further increases in warmth will have no effect on growth.
    This explanation is plausible, but to increase yields in a horticultural greenhouse, the temperatures and CO2 levels are kept artificially much higher than in the outside atmosphere. So why if that boosts growth, have we not seen growth in tree rings when CO2 should certainly have been increasing over the last 30 years and, according to the official pronouncements, temperature has also increased?

    Friday 28 May 2010

    earth More AGW
  • Keeping an eye on the Sun - Space Fellowship - "NASA Keeps a Close Eye on the Sun's Irradiance".

  • Two from the Telegraph - James Delingpole - "Why Man-Made Global Warming is a load of cobblers; Pt 1"   Gerald Warner - "Latest climate climbdown: the Royal Society reviews its statements on global warming".

    britain" Hypocrisy
  • BBC - "Teenagers' deaths 'not caused by mephedrone'".
    So a drug which may be harmless is a "Class B" drug, which carries a gaol sentence of up to five years for possession or 14 years for selling it. The two most dangerous drugs are tobacco and alcohol, which are not only legal, but until recently, MPs and Governments blocked all attempts to restrict the advertising and promotion of them. It would be interesting to know to what extent this inconsistency was because of stupidity or corruption or the influence of the news media and their advertising customers.

    costarica Tolls on road to nowhere
  • Inside Costa Rica - "Autopistas Rules Out Opening Tolls When It Closes The San José - Caldera".

    britain" Cosmetic change
  • BBC - "Annual board elections in new code for top companies".
    Some people may be fooled by this, but the reality is that it will make almost no difference. When the funds that own most of the shares do have a chance to vote out a director, they rarely use their power.
    What we really need is independent auditing and reporting to all those interested in the fate of big companies - shareholders, lenders, employees, suppliers and customers. But all we will get is cosmetic changes as the Financial Reporting Council is part of the cosy club where British business is controlled by a clique of interlocking directorships who vote each other mega pay.

    south Another toll complaint
  • Business Report (Johannesburg) - "Proposed toll fee equivalent to doubling fuel price".

    usa USA Roundup
  • More on proposal for tolls on most roads in Washington State - Sunbreak - "Tolls Planned for All Puget Sound Major Roadways"   Komo News - "Ken Schram: Reaming residents who drive" LOT of comments   Seattle Bubble - "How Will Ubiquitous Freeway Tolls Affect Home Prices?".

  • More on proposed - North Carolina / Virginia border tolls - Star Exponent - "Perspective: I-95 toll at Virginia line would hurt N. Carolina"   Reflector / AP - "Va. gov: NC mulls tolling I-95 south of state line".

  • Prison Planet - "Toll privatization scheme in Michigan HB 4961 amounts to a tax paid directly to private corporations, without representation".

  • Sundry stories - California - "Free Ride May Be Over For Golden Gate Bridge Carpoolers"   New Hampshire - "'Open road tolling' begins in Hampton, New Hampshire" video   California - "Six-lane addition proposed to ease daily I-5 backups"   New Hampshire - "High speed toll lanes debut on I-95 tomorrow" comments   New Hampshire - "Relief in sight for toll backups".

    australia E-tolls for thee
  • Suggestion that the multiple administration fee racket may not be lawful - Northern Star - "Teen hit with e-toll charges".

    earth AGW
  • The Queen's scientists to look at toning it down a bit - BBC - "Society to review climate message".

  • More "science" which by coincidence was partly funded by the Royal Society - Science Daily - "Scientists Detect Huge Carbon 'Burp' That Helped End Last Ice Age".
    Apart from the mystery of what causes the CO2 burps (too much tonic in the gin?), there is the usual muddying of the fact that the last Ice Age has not ended.
    The current Ice Age began about 20 million years ago in Antarctica and the ice began to spread (the "Pliocene-Quaternary glaciation"), in the northern hemisphere about 2.5 million years ago. We are currently in an "interglacial" which are relatively short (10 to 20 thousand years) warmer interludes within an Ice Age. The current interglacial ("Holocene") began 10 to 12 thousand years ago. About the only thing that we can be certain about the climate, is that the current level of temperature, glaciation and sea level are atypical and 99 per cent of the time the Earth's climate is significantly different.

  • Aim to be the craziest ever - BBC - "Queen's Speech: Government aims to be 'greenest ever'".

  • James Delingpole in Telegraph - "Why I keep banging on and on about Global bloody Warming".

    Thursday 27 May 2010

    britain" More DfT stats
  • "Road Goods Vehicles Travelling to Mainland Europe - Q1 2010" (links to data at top right).

    britain" When is road pricing on existing roads not road pricing on existing roads?
  • The new head of DfT in his "first major interview" reveals that - "Tolls and private finance will be considered for all new road schemes because of the shortage of money for investment. However, Mr Hammond is ruling out “pay as you drive” for existing roads" - Evening Standard - "Philip Hammond: I want a new regime that ends the Heathrow hassle".
    Though Phil Hammond has had a lot of business experience and a PPE degree and is probably numerate, he appears to have no financial quallifications or any knowledge of tolls. The reality is that the private sector will not build a tolled crossing or road unless the Government can in some way guarantee their income and get round the problem that most drivers will avoid tolls if it is reasonably possible to do so. The easiest way to achieve a guarantee to the toll operator is to also toll the existing free route, which is the plan for the new Mersey crossing. So either Phil Hammond does not know this or ruling out “pay as you drive” for existing roads" does not exclude tolling some of them.

    britain" Another rip off
  • BBC - "Capital Gains Tax: No coalition split says Vince Cable".
    The new Business Secreatry says that a capital gains tax of 40 to 50% will make things "fairer" by bringing capital gains into line with taxes on income. It is not possible to say whether he is a fool or expects that everyone else is ignorant of the facts.
    Capital gains are different from income in that they may have accumulated over many years, and may not in real terms be gains at all. When capital gains tax was introduced in 1965 it was primarily intended to tax short term gains - for a start it excluded asets bought before 1965. After a while the effects of inflation were brought in, with a system of "indexation" so that tax was only payable on real gains. Indexation was scrapped in 1998 and replaced by a complicated system of "taper relief" which no longer directly measured the effect of inflation, instead the tax payable was reduced according to how long the asset had been held. There is more detail of this in "Development of Capital Gains Tax" here - Tax Cafe. BUT, this does not cover the last significant change, which was that from April 2008, the complicated sytem of taper relief was abolished. The effect of abolishing that was offset by reducing the rate of tax to 18 per cent.
    If the new Government now raises that 18% rate and does not reintroduce indexation, then no doubt the rich friends of the Government will manage to avoid paying the tax, and it will again be the people in the middle who are robbed.

    australia Captain Bligh orders more tolls
  • Courier-Mail - "Anna Bligh plans new tolls to help fund infrastructure".

    usa USA Roundup
  • Hartford Courant - "Highway Transportation Isn't Self-Sufficient".
    The claim that "gas and vehicular taxes and tolls, which are the most widely cited source of funding for roads, paid only around half of the $192 billion raised for highway spending in 2008" exaggerates the real position.
    The 192 billion seems to come from Table HF-10, that also shows income from "Motor-fuel and vehicle taxes" of 85 billion (Federal 31, State 51 and local 3) and Income from tolls of 9.3 billion, which is presumably where the "around half" comes from. But part of the Highways related income of 192 is 17 billion interest on unused funds and 20 billion from the proceeds of bond issues, and these should be excluded from both sides when calculating what road users share of expenditure is. So the amount of highways expenditure financed from taxes and charges is 155 billion dollars, of which the taxes and charges on drivers on drivers is 84 billion or 60 per cent.
    Or rather it isn't, as part of the fuel and vehicles taxes and tolls is not used for Highways but for mass transit and other non-highway purposes - Table SDF. The best indication of overall income and where it goes seems to be - Table HDF. It shows total revenues from fuel taxes, vehicle taxes and tolls of 122 billion. So roads users are paying nearly 80 per cent of the 155 billion taxes and charges used on highways. If sales taxes on fuel etc were included in the income, and "highways" expenditure not primarily for the benefit of drivers could be calulated and excluded from the expenditure, then what drivers pay might be very close to 100 per cent.
    FHWA - Index to all 2008 stats.

  • More etolls "fun" - CBS (California) - "FasTrak Hires Collection Firm to Chase 'Scofflaws'" video .

  • The HOT lanes coming to Virginia - Inside Nova - "Lack of funds, cheating motorists are reasons to charge for highway use, official says"   Fox - "Managing The HOT Lanes" video   Washington Post - "How HOT lanes will work" comments   Virginia Business - "Construction begins on HOT lanes Operations Center"   Fredericksburg - "HOT lanes move forward"   WTOP - "Construction of HOT lanes moving forward in Va.".

    canada usa New toll bridge approved by Michigan pols
  • Detroit Free Press - "Bill on new U.S.-Canada bridge barely clears state House"   Windsor Star - "DRIC clears hurdle".

    ireland Toll troubles
  • Independent - "Charlie Weston: VAT charges yet another blow for consumers".
  • HGV Ireland - "IRHA angry over M3 tolls".

    london Fleet problems
  • Fleet News - "Congestion charge mayhem continues for fleets".

    vietnam Vietnam considering motorbike toll
  • Judging by the picture, they might do better by charging pedestrians!   Vietnam Net - "Minister to consider Phu My Bridge toll for motorbikes".

    australia "Australians are not used to the concept of toll roads"
  • The academic who said this ought to get out a bit more!   ABC - "Toll roads: Australia's love-hate relationship".
    Lot of comments including "We already pay taxes for out roads when we buy fuel. But the government does not spend this money on roads. We pay tax when we register our car and insure it. Why should we get used to toll roads? I would rather travel a bit further in many cases than pay a toll. We are always being ripped off and it never stops.".

    canada More on Red Indian toll
  • Fort Frances Times - "Toll booth drawing outside support".

    indonesia "Force Vehicles Off Roads to Cut Gridlock"
  • Jakarta Globe.

    earth AGW
  • A dry forecast - Telegraph - "Met Office predicts a return of the summer of 1976".
    The Met Office and othe AGW evangelisers have it covered all ways. They say that extra warming means more extreme weather, so for British summers they predict both more floods and more droughts. Whatever happens, they can say "I told you so".
    For winters they say - "Heavier winter precipitation is expected to become more frequent, potentially causing more flooding." - Met Office - "What about the UK?". This last winter in Britain, this failed to materialise as, according to the Met Office, rainfall "total is 249 mm, which is 75% of the 1971-2000 average" - Met Office - "Winter 2010". Though in circumstances like this when what we experience is obviously different from what they predicted, their fallback is that "it's just weather".
    By the way, the Weather Action people (who sell their forecasts, and don't give much away for free), seem to be predicting that it will be a typical British summer, with brief hot and sunny periods, but with no shortage of rain.

    japan A world away from Britain's chronic trade deficit
  • Japanese export boom - BBC - "Japan exports soar 40% on car and semiconductor demand"   Wall Street Journal - "Japanese Exports Rise 40.4%".

    Wednesday 26 May 2010

    britain" Missing the point
  • Economic Voice - "More electric cars equals more power stations"   Telegraph - "Turning all cars electric in Britain needs boost in power supply"   Royal Academy of Engineering - "Electric Vehicles: charged with potential" pdf.
    The "Senior Fellow" of the Academy is Prince Philip who will not be too worried about all this as he drives his four-in-hand carriage. The President of the Academy is Lord Browne, who until 3 years ago was head of BP and is now a director at Riverstone, a private firm with interests in both oil and "renewables". The Academy say that the purpose of a switch to electric cars is because - "There is now little doubt that global warming is happening, that it is largely caused by CO2 emissions from human activity, that the effects on some communities will be devastating and that a substantial cut in future emissions will be necessary to limit the damage."
    Atomic power and "renewables" are always on, so it is poor economics if their output is not used first. So at the margin, any extra electric consumption on electric cars (or any other electricity use) will come from the burning of fossil fuels. (As "renewables", and possibly atomic power, are at this time far more expensive than burning fossil fuels, it is also poor economics to replace fossil fuel power stations.) The Academy to some extent seem to realise this point, and then ignore it.
    The report's introduction says that "As it would be impractical to differentiate between electricity used for EVs and for other uses, large-scale adoption of EVs is likely to accelerate the need for a comprehensive system of road pricing or another mechanism for pay-as-you-drive taxation." The trolls influence goes deep into all parts of the establishment, and it may be that the purpose of reports like this is to con a few more drivers that tolls are inevitable, so they may as well accept the idea now.

    australia Toll fines
  • Courier-Mail - "Toll evaders on Gateway and Logan motorways pay the price". Not surprisingly Queensland's RAC is on the side of the trolls.

    usa USA Roundup
  • Sundry stories - Texas - "City Council approves road money zones"   Washington State - "Plan: Tolls on all Seattle-area freeways by 2030" lots of comments   Pennsylvania - "Planner: Tolling I-80 still bad idea despite shortfalls".

    south Bit more on opposition to tolls in KZN
  • Times Live - "Court to be asked to stop toll road".

    phillipines Phillipines toll increase
  • Bulatlat - "Bayan slams outrageous-SLEX toll hike, blames privatization".

    europe britain" Breaking the banks
  • BBC - "Europe seeks new levy on banks to create crisis funds".
    As usual Europe's and Britain's politicians are doing the wrong thing. Any levy or insurance fund will tend to protect those who take excessive risks. Such a policy is paid for by those who are more careful. It is also most unlikely that any such levy or fund would have been big enough to deal with the last crisis where the UK Government had to go massively into debt in order to directly and indirectly bail out the two banks based in Edinburgh.
    Three things are really needed. The first is a requirement for bank capital / reserve requirements to be raised. The second is better regulation to make sure that when risks are taken, then those risks are properly reflected in the bank's accounts. The third thing that we need is better regulators, the FSA are probably not competent and the Bank of England is part of the same cosy club as those it is supposed to regulate.
    The problem is that politicians and the Bank of England really don't want the banks to do any more then they have already done themselves, as that would mean that lending would fall and the spivs would be hit. So we are more likely to get some form of one off tax which will nominally be paid by the banks, but will in reality be just another tax on all of us.

    tajikistan New member of tolls society
  • Global Post - "Tajikistan's highway to profits - and protests".

    russia New Russian toll
  • Rus Business News - "Russian Roads Lead to Onerous Duties".

    london Air anomaly
  • The proposed changes to the London Con include replacing the current exemption for electric and hybrid vehicles with a "Greener Vehicle Discount" which will exempt "cars that emit 100g/km of CO2 or less and that meet the Euro 5 standard for air quality". The CO2 limit is the same as the current VED band A (those that emit less than 101 grams of CO2 per kilometre travelled) and all new cars in the EU were supposed to meet the Euro 5 standard from September 2009.
    At the moment there are 21 cars in VED band A, 20 with diesel engines and one petrol. The news has been welcomed by Volvo who campaigned for such a change, and make one of the 20 diesels in band A. But what will this do for air quality? CO2 is not a pollutant. The real pollutants are higher with diesel engines than with petrol engines. Though the authorised limits for the level of these pollutants (from all cars) are a lot lower than they were, the new Con proposals will encourage more people to buy diesels (in band A) and to drive them into the centre of the city.
    PS One good thing from the new regulations is that the Lexus hybrids will cease to be exempt from the charge. Not that drivers who can afford such cars will be bothered about a ten pound charge!

    britain" Bit more on the possible toll plan
  • The Raw Story - "Rothschild plan would see privatization of Britain’s massive public motorway".
    When this plan was put forward by the bankers last August, Vince Cable was quoted as saying - "This is an attractive, positive idea which could release considerable resources to the public finances and may have real environmental merits. The scale of it is vast — it makes rail privatisation look like small beer."
    PS Report on Prison Planet - "Rothschilds Engineer Fire Sale Of UK Infrastructure To Offshore Corporations".

    canada More Toronto tolls touting
  • Toronto Sun - "Time to chat about road tolls: transport minister".

    earth Double worry
  • BBC - "Infections link to bees decline".
    There are two concerns. One is that a lot of the food that we eat relies on bees as pollinators - Wikepedia - "List of crop plants pollinated by bees". The other is that if scientists can't sort this out, then how long before that over populated species - homo sapiens sapiens - faces a similar catastrophe?

    britain" More Education disorder
  • BBC - "Schools are being invited to become academies"   Politics - "Voice: Queen's Speech - reckless rush risks ruin".
    As half the cabinet went to public schools, perhaps they could start their reforms by making those schools "free" for all.

    earth AGW
  • Some of the organisations "persuading" the authorities to outlaw fossil fuels - The Ecologist - "How to campaign: climate change and energy".
    Against zealots who are well organised "charities" funded by local authorities and the Central Government, drivers stand little chance.

  • Give us yer money - now - Reuters- "UN urges rich to honor $30 billion climate aid pledge".

  • From the "Africa Progress Panel", who's members include Sir Bob Geldorf - Eyewitness News- "Climate change - Africa’s biggest challenge".
    While people in Afica and outside are encouraged in these delusions, the main cause of Africa's problems is ignored. According to the US Census Bureau, in 1950 the population of Africa was just under 230 million. Today it is over one billion.

    Tuesday 25 May 2010

    britain" The Queen's Bills
  • BBC - "Queen's Speech 2010: Bill by bill".
    A week ago the Government were asking the public to suggest which existing laws should be scrapped, well they could start by not bothering with this rag bag. The only merit is that none of them seem to be directly aimed against roads users.
    One of the bills is the "Equitable Life Payments Scheme Bill" which will make it legal for the rest of us to hand over money to those who had investment policies with this firm. The firm - which was a mutual - went bust because one group of members thought that they were being treated unfairly compared with other members - the disagreement meant that most policy holders lost out, while the main gainers, apart from a few members, were the lawyers. If you are wondering why the taxpayer should compensate the losers, the answer is that unlike your average co-op, many of the members of this mutual were well off and VERY articulate.

    usa USA Roundup
  • Texas toll trouble - KXAN - "Alarming fees for overdue tolls - Tough to enforce 4000 percent fee on late payments" video & comments   KXAN Journal - "Tough road ahead collecting late tolls - Courts would be overwhelmed, no way to enforce" video & comments.

    london Tainted air questions
  • Evening Standard - "Boris Johnson urged to use C-charge cameras to catch polluting vehicles".
    Clever cameras if they could catch "polluting vehicles", presumably they will just go by the car model rather than actual pollution.
    The story says that "Motorists would be offered financial help to upgrade these vehicles". Why? Drivers are usually robbed by the political highwaymen rather than given free gifts. And once "upgraded" will the vehicles really be welcomed with open arms into central London?
    The story implies that vehicles are responsible for "more than 4,300 premature deaths in the capital every year" This figure comes out of thin air. Whatever the figure is for the number of deaths in Britain due to air pollution, very little of that is due to transport our Air Quality section. And why is a new measure being proposed when there is already a London wide Low Emission Zone being phased in?

    japan Japanese trolls pushing hard
  • Asahi - "EDITORIAL: Expressway tolls".
    There is strong pressure on the Government to abandon the promised removal of tolls. This editorial says - "The United States and nations in Europe are now gradually moving away from the tradition of toll-free highways and introducing charges, citing fiscal problems and harmful climate change." If these were the real motives, then Japan would be increasing its low fuel taxes and not keeping tolls.
    The editorial also says "the government should reaffirm the principle that toll cuts should be realized through the management efforts by expressway operators. That was the primary objective of privatizing the public road operators". The idea that private operators would volunteer to cut tolls is not believable. The Highway Public Corporations were privatised because of bid rigging and corruption, which can be ignored when the politicians are not directly responsible for it.

    earth AGW
  • Polar bears are disappearing - again - BBC - "Polar bears face 'tipping point' due to climate change".
    To help the polar bears that are finding it too warm to survive there are "harvest quotas" to limit the amount of official culling - Examiner - "Canada's growing polar bear population 'becoming a problem,' locals say ".

  • A bit more fun - BBC - "Nasa's Phoenix Mars lander 'broken by ice'". Ice on Mars is believed to be formed from CO2. This "greenhouse" gas makes up about 95% of the thin atmosphere on this cold planet (average temperature about minus 60 degrees Celsius). Perhaps they need to burn some more fossil fuel!

  • A bit more on the sceptics conference - Examiner - "Heartland Institue 4th Annual Climate Change Conference".

    Monday 24 May 2010

    britain" Bikers rule
  • BBC - "Motorcyclists bring Tyne Tunnel to standstill".
    In a tunnel, motorbikes take up as much length of carriageway as a car. They also produce more real pollution due to their poor exhaust systems. But on many tolled crossings, bikers don't have to pay because, unlike car drivers, they are prepared to demonstrate and don't mind if their actions inconvenience others.

    london Another consultation
  • BBC - "London mayor plans £2-a-day congestion charge increase"   Guardian - "Boris Johnson unveils plans to scrap western extension of London congestion charge"   Mayor Watch - "Boris finally announces consultation to scrap c-charge extension"   TfL - "Congestion Charge consultation".

    britain" Significant?
  • The new Chancellor cuts £6 billion from "wasteful spending" - BBC - "George Osborne outlines detail of £6.2bn spending cuts".
    In terms of the total Government spending of about £700 billion, and of the major cuts that had already been announced by the last government, these cuts are obviously not significant - except to those who may directly or indirectly lose their jobs or lose services received. They may not agree that spendng on them was wasteful. Everyone will agree that there is waste, but people will have very different opinions as to what is waste.
    Two things may be significant. The first is that the cuts were not announced in Parliament and may show how the coalition will rule. The second is that the Chancellor said that "We need to take urgent action to keep our interest rates lower for longer". This shows that the new Government and its old friends in Threadneedle Street (who are largely responsible for the mess) will increase inflation and keep the value of the pound low.

    usa USA Roundup
  • Tolls future for North Carolina - Winston-Salem Journal - "Opinion - Toll roads".

  • Sundry stories - Florida - "Wekiva Parkway plans are slow going now"   Colorado / Wyoming - "Get out your wallet for E-470"   Indiana / Kentucky - "Cost, scope of Ohio River Bridges Project toll options study grow".

    phillipines More on on/ off/on tolls VAT
  • Business World - "P7B in back taxes due from tollway firms -- BIR".

    britain" Start of the softening up?
  • Times - "Ministers eye plan to sell motorways"   Mail - "Radical plan to privatise motorway network which could pave the way for toll system".
    It is suggested that drivers would not pay tolls, but that the Government would instead pay "shadow" tolls. This is most unlikely. If the Government merely wanted to get the private sector to manage and maintain main roads, then it can do this without tolling - shadow or real. There are already some shadow tolls in Britain, which have been researched by Jean Shaoul of the Manchester Business School and found to be a rip off of the taxpayer - ICAS - "Financial Black Holes: Accounting for Privately Financed Roads in the UK" pdf   Scribd - "Highway Robbery? A financial analysis of Design Build Finance and Operate in roads in the UK".
    If the Government wants to generate £100 billion so for nothing, then it has two problems. Firstly, most people (including the money markets) would recognise this as a disguised loan and an expensive scam. Secondly, the new Chancellor has claimed (only last Monday) that he will bring these private finance shemes on to the balance sheet - will he go back on this so early?
    These two problems to a large extent disappear, if it is drivers that will pay the tolls. This story first appeared in the Times, a strong advocate of tolls, and is said to be backed by the RAC Foundation - another tolls advocate. So perhaps drivers are being softened up, after all tolling of motorways and dual carriageways was in the Lib Dem manifesto, Vince Cable knows this, even though 99% of those who voted for the Lib Dems were largely kept in the dark by the news media.

    australia Drivers punished
  • As promised, the tolls on the M4 motorway were removed on 16 February. The trolls had predicted that this would cause increased congestion. According to the early reports this did not happen, but to make sure that it does they are keeping a lane closed - Street Corner - "NSW Opposition says Western Sydney motorists ignored by Labor".

    australia Truckers don't want Con
  • ATN - "Trucking doesn't need 'crap' congestion tax: Lovel".

    newzealand Complaint about unequal treatment
  • Voxy - "No Transmission Gully Tolls".

    singapore Summer sale
  • Asia One - "No ERP charges at 6 gantries".

    canada Drivers not listening to the Panda
  • - "Car-crazy Canucks won't stop driving".

    earth AGW
  • We have had another look at the mystery of why the AGW camp keep claiming new temperature records (e.g. this story in yesterday's Times - "El Niño could make 2010 the hottest year ever" - quoting NASA as saying that "“Global temperatures, averaged over the past 12 months, were the warmest for 130 years.", when according to NASA's own figures the temperature peaked in 1998.

    The official figures are to one hundredth of a degree. But these figures show a variance from a mean, rather than the temperature itself. According to NASA the "Best estimate for absolute global mean for 1951-1980 is 14.0 deg-C". In their illustration of how to get back to an absolute temperature, they show the example of a variance of 40 (hundredths of a degree) being converted to 0.40 degrees and then added to 14.0 to give 14.40 degrees. This NASA advice is not correct, because the rule when you are adding decimals is that you only keep in the result as many decimal places as there were in the least accurate number i.e. the result in this case should be shown in tenths not in hundredths. So the charts which we gave last Thursday were in tenths of a degree.

    If you ignore the absolute figure and just look at the variance, then you can use hundredths (providing that you forget that the figures are suspect, and that even if they were not then such accuracy is probably misleading). Anyway playing the game their way, and starting in 1972 (the last year where according to NASA there was a nil variance from the 1951-1980 base), then you get this graph -


    On this basis they can claim various years since 1998 as records, though it is still the case - using NASA's own figures - that from 1972 to 1998 the temperature was increasing at a rate of 2.2 degrees per century, but from 1998 to 2009 the rate of increase was at the rate of one degree in a thousand years.

  • Not as interesting - Guardian - "Climate change concern declines in poll".

    britain" Express must think that its readers were born yesterday
  • Yesterday's paper was giving credit to David Cameron for Britain not being part of the Euro.
    When the Euro was introduced on 1st January 1999, David Cameron was not even a backbench MP (he was head of PR at a TV company). It was Gordon Brown who made it most unlikely that Britain would join the Euro by laying down "Five economic tests" that were unlikely to ever be met - 1. Are business cycles and economic structures compatible so that we and others could live comfortably with euro interest rates on a permanent basis?
    2. If problems emerge is there sufficient flexibility to deal with them?
    3. Would joining EMU create better conditions for firms making long-term decisions to invest in Britain?
    4. What impact would entry into EMU have on the competitive position of the UK's financial services industry, particularly the City's wholesale markets?
    5. In summary, will joining EMU promote higher growth, stability and a lasting increase in jobs?
    britain" Another glimpse behind the curtain
  • Mail - "So what has Fergie been up to?"   News of the World and "Cash for access".

    Saturday 22 May 2010

    britain" FTA accepts Trojan horse
  • Easier - "Foreign lorry charge must bring tangible benefits, says FTA".

    indonesia Bit more on proposed Jakarta Con
  • Jakarta Post - "Issues: Editorial: Charging road users".

    canada More on Red Indian toll
  • Fort Frances Times - "Toll booth goes up".

    britain" Better late
  • BBC - "UK budget deficit revised lower by ONS".
    As one of the main differences in the Election was that the Tories wanted to cut an extra £6 billion from this year's budget deficit, it is a stroke of luck for them, that the civil servants have only now "discovered" that they had overstated last year's deficit by £7.4 billion. Are these the same neutral civil servants who at the new Government's press conference on Monday were clapping?

    Friday 21 May 2010

    usa USA Roundup
  • Sundry stories - Texas - "Private company proposes tearing down and rebuilding part of I-35W"   Florida - "Crunched Miramar toll booth to delay morning rush"   Georgia - "New toll lane for I-75 in Henry?"   Georgia - "Strife over I-85 toll project"   Georgia - "I-85 tolling project draws fire".

    usa The Economist touting tolls
  • "Repairing America's roads - It tolls for thee - Flexibility on highway funding would make all the difference".
    The piece starts "America has high unemployment and an unbalanced economy. Meanwhile, the downsides of oil dependence are painfully clear in the slick that is growing in the Gulf of Mexico." The solution to these woes is apparently road tolls - who but an economist would consider that a rational solution to reducing dependence on oil, would be to switch from a gas tax to tolls?

    The writer refers in some detail to the Federal gas tax, but ignores state and other taxes which are higher. The writer also gives a breakdown of highway finances which only shows the Federal figures.

    The writer ends - "Tolling is economically efficient: it prices an overused resource (crowded roads). Apart from cutting congestion and raising money, tolls reduce carbon emissions and other pollutants."
    The reality is that tolling is a very inefficient way of charging for roads use, due to the cost of implementing and administering tolls, queues, and drivers making sub-optimal (and not necessarily rational) decisions on whether to use one route or another.
    One of the comments on the piece says - "The author is way off base on the notion that tolls reduce congestion and carbon emissions, at least with regards to the northeastern US on roads like I-95 and the NJ Turnpike. Tolls have the exact opposite effect; they clog up traffic in their immediate (and oftentimes, not so immediate) vicinity which then, in turn, increases carbon emissions from cars that are essentially idling. I can't keep track of how many times I've been driving on one of these roads at a steady pace before having to slam on my breaks and crawl several miles through a toll plaza"
    Electronic tolls reduce but do not remove these bottlenecks and raise other issues such as surveillance (electronic tolling relies on cameras as a back up) and the very large amount of evasion (which is usually not mentioned as the whole toll operation would collapse if more drivers thought about not paying).

    london Marriage is not bliss
  • Evening Standard - "Must I get divorced to obtain a C-charge permit?".

    earth AGW
  • Surprisingly the BBC have reported on the Deniers conference earlier this week - "Climate sceptics rally to expose 'myth".

    Other reports, in the more anarchic or right wing press - FrontPageMag - "The Anti-Copenhagen"   Big Journalism - "On 'Global Warming', Can There Really Be Two Sides To the Story?"   New American - "Earth Is Cooling, Sea Levels Not Rising, Scientists Say".

    Some reports say that those attending the conference were paid tools of "Conservative and free market organisations" - Sci Blogs - "The heart of opposition to climate science".

  • As with every day there are hundreds of news reports of how scientists have proved that it is getting warmer even over the last decade, e.g. - NY Times - "Robot Floats Record Sharp Increase in Upper Ocean Warming -- Study". The puzzle is how scientists are able to make these claims when the official NASA / NOAA figures show that temperature peaked in 1998 and then levelled off? Given that the figures are doctored, why did they not make sure that they matched their claims. Do they need a pocket calculator?
    PS The answer to this it seems is that though the NASA / NOAA / GISS temperature data is the same when shown to the nearest tenth of a degree, it is different when shown to the nearest one hundreth of a degree. On this basis the temperatures in 2005, 2007 and 2009 are higher than 1998. In normal scientific practice, differences of a few hundredths of a degree would not be regarded as statistically significant. Given that the source "data" is selected by those who believe in AGW, it is even more dangerous to take such small differences as significant. But with AGW science all that matters is "proving" that a few hundreths of a degree is a hockeystick.

  • The new UK Government proves it is as nuts as the last one - BBC - "UK 'will push EU on CO2 targets'".

    britain" Latest lotsa money figures
  • Money supply is again low - BofE - "Provisional estimates of broad money (M4) and credit (M4 lending)- April 2010".
    The trend for many months now is that despite the best efforts of the Old Lady to inflate asset prices, the money seems to be disappearing into a black hole. We assume that the hole is money leaving the country - in suitcases or otherwise. Perhaps there will be pressure for the Bank to spread some more helicopter money.

    Thursday 20 May 2010

    earth More AGW
  • The latest data does not match the hype - Global warming data is difficult to come by, but for some reason NASA on the 14th May put on their website (albeit on a page difficult to find) what they say the Global average temperatures were from January 1880 to April 2010. The figures are intended to support the claim that it is warmer than ever (see our AGW item earlier today and on Monday).
    It is a fairly easy to convert the anomaly data to a temperature and then to chart it -


    At first glance the chart seems to match the warming claims, as the temperatures according to NASA rose fairly steadily from 13.7 degrees Celsius in 1880 to 14.6 degrees in 2009. But a closer look shows that the trend is levelling off rather than accelerating.

    This levelling off is clearer, if you concentrate on the period from 1998 when a temperature of 14.6 degees Celsius was first reached. In the eleven years since then the temperature has averaged 14.5 degrees -


    The NASA data not reconciling with the record warming claims is even more amazing if you consider that though they have removed one difficulty (they base temperature anomalies on changes over time rather than using absolute figures which requires decisons on what you do to adjust for the fact that almost no weather stations will have operated continuously from 1880 to date) various other difficulties remain -
  • The data may be subject to fraud and observer bias.

  • A large amount of data is ignored when the averages are calculated. The Russians claimn that the weather stations which are ignored are those that do not produce temperature rises - Watts Up With That - "Russian IEA claims CRU tampered with climate data – cherrypicked warmest stations".

  • Many of the weather stations will have increasingly become affected by the urban heat island effect (which is detailed on many pages on the the Watts Up website including - "Spencer: Global Urban Heat Island Effect Study – An Update". (In 1880 the world population was about 1.4 billion, in 2009 it was 6.8 billion.)

  • The way in which the Stevenson screens are built has changed. Again the possible effect of this is on the Watts up website, including this page - "A typical day in the Stevenson Screen Paint Test". Though it seems that no one has yet been brave enough to establish the effect of the roofs of the screens now being made from laminate rather than two layers of asbestos!
  • PS It seems that though the NASA / NOAA / GISS temperature data is the same when shown to the nearest tenth of a degree as above, it is different when shown to the nearest one hundreth of a degree. On this basis the temperatures in 2005, 2007 and 2009 are higher than 1998. In normal scientific practice, differences of a few hundredths of a degree would not be regarded as statistically significant. Given that the source "data" is selected by those who believe in AGW, it is even more dangerous to take such small differences as significant. But with AGW science all that matters is "proving" that a few hundreths of a degree is a hockeystick.

    south KZN to have hearing on tolls
  • East Coast Radio - "Hearings on N2 Wild Coast Toll project".
    According to UNAIDS, 39 per cent of the people of KwaZulu-Natal are infected with HIV. Presumably the various agencies recommended that to fix this they needed toll roads.

    usa USA Roundup
  • Fox - "Part 2: Bring a "no toll" bridges plan to Kentuckiana".

  • Treehugger - "Reclaim the Streets, Put the Brakes on Car Traffic".
    The picture illustrates that one cyclist has more space than one hundred drivers. Why do cyclists have so much influence and power, and why do drivers let themselves be treated so badly?

  • Sundry stories - Florida - "Early projections put planned expressway round trip tolls at $8"   Virginia - "State's toll goal for bigger Midtown Tunnel: $1.50"   California - "Carpoolers will soon be asked to pay up" video   Oregon / Washington State - "Independent panel to review I-5 bridge project"   "Michigan House considering PPP legislation for bridge".

    britain" PFI question
  • It is predicted that the new Government will approve a new toll bridge which will be privately financed - Runcorn & Widnes Weekly News - "Mersey Gateway chiefs hopeful of decision from new transport minister Philip Hammond".
    Under the PFI scam, the expenditure was off balance sheet. Under changed rules, PFI schemes where to go on local authority balnce sheets, but for the national consolidated accounts they would stay invisible. The new Chancellor has implied that PFI will now be properly on the balance sheet - FT 17 May - "FT interview transcript: George Osborne". According to the IFS this would add about £130 billion to public sector debts, so we will see if he meant it or whether schemes like this new toll bridge will just be nodded through.

    britain" Details of the Deal released
  • BBC - "Government publishes 'historic' coalition policy deal". The Programme for Government website seems to be overloaded, here is a copy of the doc on the Local Government Chronicle website - "The Coalition: our programme for government".
    Transport is covered briefly on page 31. The only reference to tolls is "We will work towards the introduction of a new system of HGV road user charging to ensure a fairer arrangement for UK hauliers."

    britain" Friend of the motorist?
  • Surrey Comet - "Baptism of fire for Runnymede and Weybridge MP".
    The story says that the new Secretary of State for Transport "plans to privatise motorways and trunk roads funded by tolls". Has his local paper made a mistake, or did Mr Hammond tell them more than he has revealed elsewhere?

    india Indian politicians give themselves exemption from tolls
  • India Today - "MPs won't pay toll anymore".

    canada A Red Indian toll
  • Chronicle Journal - "Highway toll plan in motion"   Fort Frances Times - "Band sets fees for toll booth".

    canada More Toronto tolls touting
  • National Post - "Report: Toronto Board of Trade encourages road tolls, congestion charges and paid parking"   Toronto Sun - "Transportation scheme will take its toll ..."   The Star - "Road tolls one of 16 ideas to pay for transit".

    australia More on unwanted toll bridge
  • Brisbane Times - "Lower tolls, longer debt?".

    earth AGW
  • On Monday we reported from "Before It's News" that globally it was officially the warmest ever April, and warmest ever January to April, and warmest ever 12 months (May 2009 to April 2010). This wasn't some speculation, but based on the latest NASA / NOAA figures. Amazingly the AGW lobby have hardly publicised this fact, so here is the NOAA story issued on Monday "Warmest April Global Temperature on Record". Part of the AGW camp has published this link to the NASA data - "GLOBAL Land-Ocean Temperature Index in 0.01 degrees Celsius base period: 1951-1980", which is apparently almost the same as the NOAA data.

  • Almost uniquely there is a report that "described the climate link as an "unwelcome distraction" from the main issues" (of tackling malaria) - BBC - "Climate change is 'distraction' on malaria spread".

  • You can't have two "unique" reports, but here is another one, which instead of linking hurricanes to global warming, suggests that there is a link to low sun spot activity - Examiner - "New Hurricane research". The deepest solar minimum for a century ended in December, but the climb back to a maximum is currently stalled as there have been no sunspots for the last ten days.

  • A sceptical view of the "science" establishment - Canada Free Press - "The False Idol Before Us - Static Science is Stagnant Science".

  • "Climate change" wiped out the mammals, though somehow man escaped to create - climate change - Environmental Data Interactive - "Scientists say climate change, not humans, wiped out Ice Age mammals".
    The report says that this happened "Between 50,000 and 3,000 years ago". The last glacial maxima peaked only 18,000 years ago, so were these mammals killed by the cold? Or did they somehow live on the ice which 10,000 years ago was well into a retreat that may still be happening?

    Wednesday 19 May 2010

    earth More AGW
  • More from Denier's conference - James Delingpole in Telegraph - "Only morons, cheats and liars still believe in Man-Made Global Warming"   Guardian - "Richard Lindzen seeks new name for climate sceptics"   Fox News - "What Alarming Sea Level Rise? Observational Data Reveals No Change, Scientist Says"   Fox News - "Global Cooling Is Coming -- and Beware the Big Chill, Scientist Warns"   American Spectator - "Liberals Gone Wild"   Before It's News - "New Ice Age 'to begin in 2014' Russian scientist to alarmists: 'Sun heats Earth!'"   Canada Free Press - "“Deniers” Meet and the Media Ignores Them…Again".

    austria Cui bono?
  • Austrian Times - "Higher fuel taxes would soak the rich, VCÖ claims".
    What the "Austrian Travel Club" spokesman is quoted as saying is not coherent, but includes the "adoption of tolls on cars based on distances traveled". Such a system may benefit those people that the spokesman represents. But the average driver would have to pay more to cover the costs of the system, and poorer drivers would probably be worse off than with a fuel tax, as they will tend to drive smaller cars and drive at slower speeds.

    britain" Power reform?
  • BBC - "Nick Clegg pledges biggest political reforms since 1832".
    Change in Britain is often for the worse.
    Most people don't want to carry identity cards, but scrapping the "national identity register" will mainly benefit illegal immigrants and people who cheat.
    The House of Lords needs further reform, but do we really want a second elected chamber? Many countries do without a second chamber including - China, Denmark, Israel, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and of course Scotland.
    Many people would welcome a fairer voting system, but the system to be put forward is likely to be the transferrable vote with single member consituencies. The gainer from this system will be the Lib Dems. Other parties such as UKIP will have no more chance of being represented than is the case now. Britain will be indefinitely locked into a coalition system with the Lib Dems partnered with the Tories or possibly Labour.
    The idea for scrapping some laws is potentially a good one, but what we really need is a review and redrafting of ALL laws - that would keep the politicians busy for a century or two!

    britain" Power to the "people"
  • BBC - "Police to get more powers over charging crime suspects".
    Teresa May "pledged a "massive" transfer of power from Whitehall to local communities, with the use of locally-elected officials.". This will mean people being let off according to who they know, and more of local councillors telling Chief Constables to crack down on the real criminals - drivers.

    usa USA Roundup
  • Fox - "Part 1: Building a bridge without tolls".

  • Washington Times - "EDITORIAL: Burnout in the HOT lane - Risky toll scheme comes with a history of financial failure".

  • Sundry stories - Maine - "MTA must face truth on toll booths"   Virginia - "Tolls Alone Won’t Solve Road Needs"   Indiana / Kentucky - "N.Y. firm hired as adviser for Ohio River Bridges Project".

    britain" From the last Inflation committee
  • BofE - "Minutes Of The Monetary Policy Committee Meeting - 7 And 10 May 2010" pdf.

    canada More popular than sex
  • Montreal Gazette - "Almost all car-crazy Canucks won't drop driving".

    japan More on topsy turvy tolls
  • Mainichi Daily News - "New highway toll system stuck in neutral due to DPJ intra-party antagonism"   Diplomat - "Another Change of Direction".

    indonesia More on Jakarta Con delay
  • Jakarta Post - "ERP launch unlikely this year: Fauzi".

    ireland From the land of the Celtic trolls
  • Independent - "NRA to reap €184m each year from toll roads".

    china From the land where the tolls were abolished and replaced with a gas tax (in theory)
  • Global Times - "Heavy road tolls won't stop busy peak hour traffic".

    earth AGW
  • Wall Street Journal - "Cameron's Wasted Energies".

  • More on the strange behaviour of the panda - NY Times - "WWF Emerges as Leading Lobbyist on Senate Climate Bill".
    The American WWF seems to mainly be people with business connections.
    The WWF in Britain has in the past been a supporter of tolls. Strangely it seems that Prince Charles has no connection with the WWF, though Princess Alexandra is the President. Their "ambassadors" are a mix of greens, businessmen and TV presenters - British WWF.

  • Australian Liberals would cut spending - Herald Sun - "Tony Abbott to slash climate programs".

    Tuesday 18 May 2010

    britain" More of the new "democracy"
  • Express - "100 More Peers In Lords Shake-Up"   Telegraph - "Peer pressure: the House of Lords is being sabotaged".
    The new Government is considering the creation of between 100 and 300 new Tory and Lib Dem peers. The Express says that this is because the Lords "is dominated at present by Labour’s 211 peers. None of them can be removed so the Government must appoint its own to rebalance the upper chamber." This is not true. Labour over its 13 years of office did not have a majority. The current chamber has only 210 Labour Lords out of 730 odd (of which nearly 260 are non party). The Tories and Lib Dems have nearly 260, and so already outvote Labour.

    earth More AGW
  • More from Denier's conference - Fox News - "Scientist Disputes EPA Finding that Carbon Dioxide Poses Threat to Humans"   Business & Media - "Leading Global Warming Skeptic Lindzen: Time to Abandon the 'Skeptic' Label"   News Busters - "International Conference on Climate Change Totally Ignored By Media"   American Spectator - "Scientist Turned Republican Candidate Addresses Heartland Conference"   American Thinker - "ICCC 4 Opens with a Climategate Surprise"   Big Journalism - "MSM AWOL From a Non-Ideological Climate Conference".

    japan More on Gas tax and tolls politics
  • Interactive Investor - "Japan delays introduction of new highway tolls".
    This story refers to an Institute of Energy Economics report which concluded that reducing tolls led to more demand for gasoline. A possibly obvious conclusion of which the full report is here - IEE - "Impact Analysis on Gasoline Demand and CO2 Emissions of the Reduction in Expressway Toll, Free Expressways and Repeal of Temporary Tax on Gasoline" pdf. This report did not attempt to assess how much fuel is wasted in toll queues or diversions to avoid tolls. Neither did it try to estimate what the effect would be of switching taxes from tolls to a higher gas tax. Though the effect of such a switch on gasoline consumption is also obvious.

    britain" More on the new team
  • Local Gov - "Norman Baker joins the DfT".
    The DfT have now allotted responsibilities.
    Philip Hammond, as well as being overall in charge of the department, has got specific responsibility for - "Transport Security - including Transec, High Speed Rail, Overall responsibility for Transport Strategy".
    Theresa Villiers gets - " Rail, London - including Crossrail, Olympics, Europe, Aviation - including Air Accident Investigation Branch".
    Norman Baker gets - "Regional and Local Transport, Buses and Taxis - including concessionary fares, Walking and Cycling, Accessibility and Equalities, Alternatives to travel". Though he has not been given the main responsibility for roads, it may be that his duties may include the various guises of tolls.
    Mike Penning gets - "Strategic roads and Highways Agency, Motoring agencies, Road Safety and Standards, Freight and Logistics - including lorry road user charging, Maritime and Dangerous Goods - including Maritime and Coastguard Agency". As Mike Penning at one time called for the Dartford tolls to be scrapped, it might be a bit difficult if he is now in charge of its privatisation - BBC 14 Dec 2006 - "Thames crossing tolls scrutinised".

    london LEZ consultation
  • Mayor Watch - "TfL consults on Low Emission Zone changes".
    The impression that we have is that though the LEZ toll scheme (TfL LEZ page), started two years ago there is almost no substance to it and it is just to con the gullible greens.

    usa USA Roundup
  • More tolls touting - Daily Reporter - "Tolls unwelcome, sadly necessary". The editor says that there can't be a gas tax increase as "Virginia’s legislative and executive leaders have no patience for tax increases" and that there is no choice other than tolls. Perhaps if they renamed the gas tax - a gas "toll", the problem would be solved!

  • Sundry stories - Virginia - "County joins toll board"   North Carolina - "Editorial: I-95 - Virginia moves to add tolls; we'll likely follow"   North Carolina- "Testing under way on N.C. toll road cameras".

    indonesia Jakarta Con delay
  • Jakarta Post - "ERP system unlikely to be launched this year: Jakarta Governor".

    britain" Governor of the Bank on target to make money worth less
  • BBC - "UK inflation hits 17-month high"   ONS press release   ONS - "Consumer price indices - April 2010" pdf.

    canada Toronto tolls
  • Touting continues - National Post - "Time to discuss road tolls: Miller".

  • The better solution for congestion - Star - "Immigration won’t solve Toronto transit woes" letter.

    australia Unwanted toll bridge cheaper than "estimate"
  • Courier-Mail - "Go Between Bridge toll to be reduced as project is completed $40 million under budget" comments.

    britain" More on Finger on the button
  • Police tell drivers to stay away while they help to stop traffic - BBC - "Drivers warned of Chideock village traffic protest".

    earth AGW
  • More from Denier's conference - Pajamas - "Climategate 2010: The Inconvenient Facts About Global Warming".

  • Another record - Independent - "Record heat recorded for Africa's greatest lake"   Independent's Environment Editor Opinion - "This is no forecast. Climate change is here and now".
    If the scientists who "recorded" that the Lake was hotter than it has been in 1,500 years had reached a different conclusion, would they still be getting research grants?
    The story says that the "consequences could be dire for the .. people who .. depend on its fisheries". The lake is part of four countries - Burundi, Congo Kinshasa (Democratic Republic), Tanzania and Zambia. In 1950, their combined populations totalled 26 million. It is now 134 million. Will anyone provide a research grant for scientists to discover whether a 400 per cent increase in population has any effect on the demand for food - and water?

    Monday 17 May 2010

    earth More on AGW
  • So far it's the hottest ever year - officially - Before It's News - "NASA-- Easily the Hottest April on Record".
    It's presumably a coincidence that the cooler parts of the globe are where there are more people capable of questioning the AGW claims.

  • First day of Denier's conference - Watts Up With That? - "ICCC Conference day 1 – Chicken of the Sea and BBC"   Prison Planet - "Geologist Declares 'global warming is over' -Warns U.S. Climate Conference of 'Looming Threat of Global Cooling'".
    The AGW camp have their say on the conference - Huffington Post - "Denial-a-palooza 4: Annual Climate Denier Conference of Groups Funded by Exxon, Koch Industries".

    britain" Pollster claims that turkeys welcome Thanksgiving
  • On this morning's Today programme, the green John Humphrys interviewed the Director of the right wing Centre for Policy Studies and a US pollster - Stan Greenberg - on "public attitudes towards the new government". The pollster claimed that his survey showed that the proposal for "tolls on motorways .. got majority support". We have been unable to find details of this "poll".

    britain" Responsible?
  • The new Chancellor has created a new Quango - the "Office of Budget Responsibility" - to produce "independent" forecasts for the Government - BBC - "Chancellor announces new fiscal watchdog"   Treasury - "Speech by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Rt Hon George Osborne MP, on the OBR and spending announcements"   FT - "The trouble with independent forecasts".
    Making these forecasts independent is in principle a good idea, but in practice is probably just another political card trick. The new body is to be headed by Alan Budd, who was an adviser to the Tory party, so would a non-Tory Government regard him as independent?
    There was also a pointer to the new way of Government, when the new Chief Secretary to the Treasury today publicised the contents of what was supposed to be a private note left for him by his Labour predecessor - Guardian - "Ex-Treasury secretary Liam Byrne's note to his successor: there's no money left".

    japan Gas tax and tolls politics
  • Kyodo News - "DPJ to retain gas tax surcharges, reversing general election pledge".
    Japan has a three tier tax on vehicle fuel - PAJ - "Petroleum Industry in Japan 2009" pdf (see page 60). There is a "Petroleum and Coal Tax" of just over 2 Yen a litre, a Gas tax of just under 54 Yen a litre and a consumption tax of about 6 Yen a litre, giving a total tax of 62 Yen a litre (67 US cents or 46 pence sterling). The tax is high compared with US (average of about 12 cents a litre), but low compared with Europe (in Britain the Fuel duty is 57.10 pence and VAT currently adds another 18 pence, giving a total tax of about 75 pence on a litre costing 121 pence). If the Japanese were concerned about the environment, and unaffected by corruption, then they would not just defer a reduction in gas tax, they would also immediately scrap the tolls and compensate for the lost income by increasing the fuel tax.

    britain" In denial
  • In the one consituency that did not have a vote on General Election Day, the Tories accuse the Lib Dems of supporting road pricing - Independent - "Gloves off as political allies fight for Thirsk".

    india Untouchable toll
  • Mid Day - "City techies give expressway the miss".

    ireland Possible loophole
  • Independent - "Boy (13) receives road fines in billing mistake".

    britain" A glimpse behind the curtain
  • Daily Mail - "FA chairman Lord Triesman quits after accusing Spain and Russia of trying to bribe World Cup referees".
    As usual the concern is on the possible side effects of the remarks, rather than on a rare glimpse into the corruption in "sport".

    earth AGW
  • Old religions backing the new - Independent Catholic News - "‘SOS Climate’ service and vigil in London".
    Operation Noah ignores the effects of population growth and presumably like a lot of economists and big business interests believes that the first commandment is "to go forth and multipy" - except, somehow, for CO2.

    Sunday 16 May 2010

    britain" The Murdoch Quality press talks to new Secretary of State
  • "Motorists face tolls to pay for new roads".
    One of the Times readers, "pete M", has this comment at 10.37 AM - "In reality, roads are maintained from general taxation. If you did pay "Road Tax", your tax disc would be around £3k per annum." Perhaps Pete M is an alias for one of the new Ministers and this is a forecast of what drivers will have to pay!

    britain" Another Tory MP says that he will fight Dartford tolls
  • News Shopper - "New MP vows to fight Dartford Crossing sale and tolls".

    britain" The DfT team
  • There is now confimation of who the ministers are, but nothing yet about which areas (roads, rail, aviation etc) each Minister will be responsible for - DfT - "The ministerial team".

    Saturday 15 May 2010

    britain" Some new MPs have not forgotten tolls
  • Scunthorpe Telegraph - "New North Lincolnshire MPs call for Humber Bridge tolls action".
    The two Tory MPs say that "We are seeking an urgent meeting with the transport secretary or one of the ministers because the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats both pledged to act on the issue." Let's hope that what they say does not fall on ears stuffed with wax.

    canada Traffic low on new toll bridge
  • CTV - "Golden Ears bridge tolls may be reduced" video.
    Translink is not a company but a public transport organisation; a 2008 report from them was titled "The Road less Travelled". It may not be too concerned that drivers don't use the road, the only problem is that the inconsiderate drivers don't volunteer to pay anyway!

    indonesia Bit more on Jakarta Con
  • Jakarta Post - "Editorial: Charging road users".

    britain" Express "informing" its readers
  • Daily Express - "Petrol To Hit £1.30 A Litre".
    To go with this story, the main editorial in the Express is "Why the only way is up for British petrol prices" The paper no longer has Gordon Brown to pour its vitriol on, so it is now lying about fuel taxes. It says "Mr Hammond is the man charged with replacing Labour's fuel duty escalator with a fuel duty stabiliser". The truth is that the Tories introduced the escalator and Labour abolished it - over 10 years ago.
    Since the Election on the 6th, the value of the pound has fallen 3.5 per cent against the dollar which is used to price oil. Due to the high taxes, a 3.5 per cent increase in crude oil prices would only be about one per cent at the pumps. The value of currencies is volatile, so in another week the pound may be up against the dollar, but if instead, the decline trend over the last week was continued then pump prices would be going up every week.

    earth AGW
  • Sceptics conference begins tomorrow - Heartland Institute - "Reconsidering the Science and Economics".

  • More fun - Independent - "Caterpillar plague on Isle of Wight was caused by climate change, says expert".

    Friday 14 May 2010

    australia canada Bid for Australian troll is dead
  • The Australian - "Toll road chief Chris Lynch faces investor ire".

    britain" Last member of the new DFT team?
  • We have seen nothing official, but it seems that Norman Baker is to join Theresa Villiers and Mike Penning as one of Philip Hammond's three ministers. Norman Baker has been a passionate advocate of tolls.
    Philip Hammond was interviewed on BBC's Politics show today. He said that one of his two priorities was "Climate Change", and when asked, he said that he was using a Prius. So can we expect even bigger subsidies for trains and electric cars, while other drivers are bled dry to pay for this and for the massive cut that there will be in the overall Transport budget?

    britain" Two of the new DFT team
  • Local Gov - "Former shadow transport secretary, Theresa Villiers, has been appointed within the Department for Transport but must play second fiddle to Philip Hammond". There are usually three ministers assisting the Secretary of State, so one more is to be announced, and we don't know how responsibilities will be split.
    It is a bit ominous that the anti road users group "welcomed Ms Villiers' appointment".

    usa USA Roundup
  • Construction industry complain that only a small part of proposed War on CO2 taxes would go to roads - Daily Reporter - "Construction industry fights for more federal highway money".

  • Sundry stories - Colorado - "E-470 toll road offers fee reprieve"   "Virginia races to redo costly I-95/395 HOT lanes"   Virginia - "EDITORIAL: Burnout in the HOT lane - Risky toll scheme comes with a history of financial failure"   New Jersey - "NJ Turnpike Sick Day Cash Out Policy Spurs Outrage - Turnpike Authority Workers Allowed To Collect Reimbursement For Unused Sick Days - Even Before Retirement" video   Virginia - "Two local groups support decision of not tolling I-81".

    mexico usa Possible new toll
  • El Paso Times - "Bridge of the Americas toll idea faces Chamizal Treaty of 1964".

    argentine Toll collectors strike
  • Momento 24 - "Buenos Aires toll barriers lifted again due to union internal problems".

    india Bit more on Indian Con
  • Express India - "Govt to slap entry fee on trucks, tax on 2nd cars".

    earth AGW
  • It's too darn hot - CBS - "Lizards Finding it Too Hot to Reproduce"   Telegraph - "Lizards facing extinction because of climate change".

  • Start of another "science" whitewash - BBC - "Review of IPCC workings set to open".

  • Bit more on the War on CO2 Bill introduced in the Senate, and largely ignored - Washington Post - "Climate change bill in a tough spot"   Forbes - "Digging Into The Senate Climate Bill"   Before It's News - "American Power Act Details Comprehensive Energy and Climate Change Legislation, Introduced by Senators Kerry and Lieberman".

    Thursday 13 May 2010

    britain" The Motorist's friend?
  • Daily Mail - "Labour's 13-year war on the motorist is over: Tories pledge to halt rise of speed cameras, road pricing and cowboy clampers"   Telegraph - "Coalition will "end war on the motorist", Transport Secretary pledges".
    This may well fool the readers of the Tory press, but has little substance. The fuel price "stabiliser" will probably be introduced when prices are high and will not save drivers one penny. There has been no direct Government funding for speed camera partnerships since April 2007, so the speed camera scam will continue. The pledge not to introduce "any form" of road pricing can not be trusted, one test will be if the trialling of the technology stops, or not.
    Of the 29 ministers who attend Cabinet meetings, three went to Eton, three to Westminster school and nine to other public schools (Abingdon, Brentwood, Charterhouse, King Edward's, Robert Gordon's College, Rugby, St George's College, St Paul's and Wellington College. We have yet to discover who the new Transport Ministers are and to what extent they are likely to empathise with ordinary drivers.

    south More tolls
  • Times - "How deep are your pockets, Joburg? Tollgates are coming to YOUR freeways?".

    australia Distant threat of Con
  • The Age - "Labor leaves way open for congestion tax".

    australia Bids in for another toll
  • Courier-Mail - "Northern Link toll modelled on Clem7".

    usa USA Roundup
  • Bit more on the latest border tax proposal - Salisbury Post - "Editorial: Toll rears its ugly head"   Washington Times - "Editorial: Virginia's new tax on motorists"   Washington Examiner - "Va. toll plan sees early opposition"   USA Today - "Virginia seeks I-95 tolls near North Carolina border"   "Bob's Toll".

  • Sundry stories - Mexico / Texas - "Commercial bridge toll increase approved"   Virginia - "Governor seeks to remove I-81 toll threat"   New York - "You Down with PPP? Privatizing a Bridge to Jersey".

    Colorado - "Study will gauge how much tolling needed to fund U.S. 36 express lanes"   New Jersey - "NJ Turnpike employees cash out $7.2 million in sick and vacation time over past two years"   California - "Reminder: Bridge tolls go up July 1"   California - "FasTrak use avoids higher toll"   Pennsylvania / New Jersey - "Interstate 78 Express E-ZPass lanes to open Thursday, Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission says"   New York - "Port Authority seeks help to replace Goethals Bridge".

    south Challenge to new toll
  • IOL - "New N2 plaza toll gets stiff opposition".

    australia Transurban annoys investors
  • Australian - "Toll road rage over lack of extension to deadline".

    britain" The new team
  • We don't yet know the full ministerial team, but the new Secretary of State for Transport is Philip Hammond. He was the shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury (the number two to the Chancellor), but that Government job has now gone to a Lib Dem.
    Philip Hammond, who once had involvement with oil and gas business, has almost no record on transport issues. He did however endorse the proposed sell off of the Dartford Crossing, and seems just the sort of man to oversee a policy of selling off other roads.
    James Delingpole in the Telegraph - "10 reasons to be cheerful about Dave's new Coalition of the Unwilling".

    britain" Best of pals
  • BBC - "Bank of England governor Mervyn King hails deficit plan".
    One of the advantages of being Governor of a central bank is that when the banking system that you control virtually collapes, you can't be sacked as that would deepen the crisis. Now that the Governor has his natural allies in power, it will be interesting to see how the Old Lady use the powers over money that Gordon Brown gave it in 1997.

    earth AGW
  • War on CO2 Bill introduced in Senate, it includes an 80% cut by 2050 to be achieved by carbon trading and subsidies - CNN - "Top senators introduce comprehensive energy bill".

    Wednesday 12 May 2010

    britain" On the new team
  • Mike Rutherford in the Telegraph - "Beware the Lib Dems' road pricing plans".
    It is not yet apparent what the anti roads user policies of the new Government will be. One pointer will be who becomes Transport Secretary and who the other ministers in the Transport department are; but as usual Transport is regarded as unimportant and we don't yet know any of the Transport appointments. Two of the Lib Dem people in the Cabinet have been pro tolls - Vince Cable, former chief economist for Shell, who is now Business Secretary, and David Laws, the former investment banker who is now Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

    britain" Report from the money pump
  • BofE - "Inflation Report, May 2010".
    It will be "interesting" to see whether the Old Lady continues with its inflation policy now that its more natural allies are in power.
    The value of the pound has declined, taking the 13 years of Labour Government as a whole, by about 10 per cent against other main currencies. We predict that this slow decline will continue.

    london Future of PFI scam?
  • BBC - "PPP deal for London Tube upgrades a 'colossal waste'".
    While Chancellor, Gordon Brown vastly expanded PFI, which meant that he could boast about new hospitals and schools while keeping the expenditure off the balance sheet. The Tories had to keep their mouths shut as they had invented the scam. It will be interesting to see what happens now.
    This story from Monday implies that Boris Johnson is not a fan of PFI, but if anything, David and Nick are likely to feed more money to the bankers, lawyers and consultants in an expanded PFI scam to "cut" public expenditure.

    usa USA Roundup
  • Sundry stories - New York / New Jersey - "Port Authority asks private investors to finance new Goethals Bridge"   Virginia - "Gov. McDonnell may implement toll for Interstate 95" video.

    canada Ontario Government hires 407 troll
  • Toronto Star - "Liberals hire Hwy. 407 executive for plum job".

    scotland Golden elephant moves forward
  • BBC - "MSPs support new Forth crossing"   Scottish Parliament - "Forth Crossing Bill".
    The need for a new crossing was promoted by those who saw it as an excuse to keep tolls. Unfortunately, though tolls have gone, this extravagant behemoth has taken on a life of its own, with billions to be squandered on what may well be an unneccesary crossing. The project is still influenced by the trolls, and one of their aims is that there will be no more traffic crossing the river than there is now.

    earth AGW
  • The end is nigh - Telegraph - "Climate change could make half the world uninhabitable".

  • Europe turns from money crisis toward more important things - BBC - "Europe to examine case for bigger CO2 cuts".

    britain" Queen selects new First Eleven
  • BBC - "David Cameron's coalition government sets to work".
    The new captain is from Eton and the vice captain is from Westminster private school. They will bring lots of enthusiasm, but it seems like putting a couple of people who've never been to sea in charge of a super tanker.
    The rash promises that both made of tax cuts and giveaways will be put back into the locker. There is likely to be a lack of agreement on where the axe should fall. There are two things that they will agree on - more subsidies for wind farms, rail travel etc and less spending on roads and airports. There will also be more taxes on drivers; probably not in the form of extra fuel duty but as indirect taxes and tolls.
    There is a fifty fifty chance that one of the first steps will be to start the process for selling off the motorways. This will be a test of whether the new Government can rely on the news media to back them and of how feeble drivers are. Last week there was a survey of 21,000 drivers on who they wanted for the new Transport Secretary; Richard Branson came first and Jeremy Clarkson came second. So a new Government may conclude that the animals will not struggle as they are gelded.

    Tuesday 11 May 2010

    thailand German troll wins court battle
  • Investment Treaty News - "German investor awarded 29 million Euros in claim against Thailand over highway concession".

    indonesia Jakarta Con
  • Berita Jakarta - "ERP, The Solution to Overcome Traffic Congestion".

    london Latest Transport strategy
  • London - "Mayor's Transport Strategy (May 2010)".
    The Executive summary includes - "You will note that the strategy involves the proposed removal of the western extension to the congestion charge zone. There has been public opposition to the western extension, confirmed during the consultation to this strategy and informal consultation on the zone’s removal in 2008. I now intend to consult the public and stakeholders on the making of a draft order for the revocation of the western extension with a view to removing it by the end of the year."
    At the rate the Mayor is moving, the Western extension will still be here by the time of the next Mayoral election.

    australia canada Revised bid for Australian troll
  • Business Spectator - "Transurban receives revised takeover bid ".

    usa USA Roundup
  • Some of the many reports on another border toll proposal on the "Interstate", this time between Virginia / North Carolina - Washington Examiner - "McDonnell seeks to put tolls on N.C. border"   Washington Post - "McDonnell proposes tolls on Interstate 95 in Virginia near N.C. border"   Roanoke News - "Toll may soon hit drivers on I-95"   Richmond Times-Dispatch - "Va. seeks tolls on I-95 near N.C. border"   Washington Post - "McDonnell asks feds to allow tolls on I-95 near N.C. border" comments   Viginian Pilot - "McDonnell asks feds for tolling authority on I-95 at N.C. line
    Washington Post - "McDonnell asks feds to allow tolls on I-95 near N.C. border" comments   Washington Post - "Va. wants I-95 tolls along N.C. border" comments   NBC - "McDonnell Tolls for Thee, Virginia" comments.

  • Sundry stories - Virginia - "Tale of Two High Occupancy Toll (HOT) Lane Projects in Virginia"   "Oklahoma Turnpike Authority requires more oversight"   Viginia - "Outer Connector Road - Toll Road - Rt 3 Bypass".

    britain" Humber toll "promises"
  • Scunthorpe Telegraph - "We want promises on A160 and tolls".

    bangladesh Tolls Demo in Bangladesh
  • BDNews24 - "Demo on 2nd Buriganga Bridge stops traffic".

    canada Toronto congestion
  • Toronto Sun - "Newsflash: People like cars".

    canada On the warpath
  • Toronto Sun - "First Nations band plans road toll to protest HST".

    earth AGW
  • A "Hartwell Paper" suggests a low hypothecated carbon tax (to be spent on "clean" fuels) - BBC - "Academics urge radical new approach to climate change"   LSE - "A new direction for climate policy after the crash of 2009" pdf.
    This, in part, may be the right solution to the wrong problem. We need to reduce use of fossil fuels because they will run out, not because of indefinite "Climate Change".
    The scientists say that one aim is "bringing a reliable electricity supply to the estimated 1.5 billion people in the world without it using efficient, low-carbon technologies". The US Census bureau forecast that there will be an extra 1.5 billion people by 2032, so we will need a lot more more electricity generators just to keep up with the rising population. Until politicians and academics are prepared to admit that population growth is THE real threat, then all other efforts are ultimately futile.

    Monday 10 May 2010

    india Indian Con
  • Economic Times - "Pay to drive in congested areas of Delhi".
    If India made a charge for living in its crowded slums, it would make even more money!

    australia Toll tunnel heading for a fire sale
  • Courier-Mail - "RiverCity needs rapid rise in Clem 7 tunnel traffic by 2012 to meet debt funding covenants".

    britain" Old Lady continues with "spend, spend, spend" policy
  • BOfE - "Bank of England Maintains Bank Rate at 0.5% and Maintains the Size of the Asset Purchase Programme at £200 Billion".

    south "I think we're screwed"
  • IOL - "Toll roads are 'a well-disguised sham'".

    australia Bust tunnel bought
  • Sydney Morning Herald - "Lane Cove Tunnel sold for $630m"   NineMSN - "Transurban buys Lane Cove Tunnel".
    The Government could have bought out the tunnel and removed the tolls, but Australian drivers are too feeble to concern the politicians.

    britain" York Con likely to be axed
  • York Press - "Results of York transport survey revealed"   BBC - "York residents reject congestion charge plan"   York's press release - "Tackling congestion: your views"   York's consultation pages - "Scrutiny committee traffic congestion review".

    earth AGW
  • Before Lord Monckton appeared as the only sceptical witness at last Thursday's House of Representative's "Select Committee for Energy Independence and Global Warming" meeting, we said - "It is not clear whether he is there because he is a peer or because he is not an expert". The AGW camp have renewed their attacks on him, e.g. - "GOP Chooses Lord "Hitler Youth" Monckton as Expert Witness on Climate Change Science" includes a video. This seems to prove that Lord Monckton is no expert, but also that it would be a brave sceptical scientist who put his or her head above the parapet.

    earth Money go round
  • The Tories are trying to rush Gordon Brown out of 10 Downing Street, by saying that otherwise the "markets" will react badly. An amazing claim given that he played a major part in stopping the financial meltdown in 2008 and given the troubles in EMU land - BBC - "EU ministers offer 500bn-euro plan to support currency"   Economic Times (India) - "EU, IMF agree $1 trillion emergency fund"   Before It's News - "Initial Thoughts On The Eurozone Bailout". As part of the arrangements, the swap agreement made in 2008 has been brought back - BofE - "Re-activation of US Dollar Swap Facility".
    The world's financial system is a house of cards, which may one day fall down if China catchs a cold and sneezes.

    Sunday 9 May 2010

    usa USA Roundup
  • Sundry stories - Virginia / DC - "Va. HOT lanes may stretch farther to Md."   Pennsylvania - "Auditor General Jack Wagner Says Taxpayers on Hook For Lost Transportation Funds from Interest-Rate".

    australia Bit more on empty tunnel
  • Green Left - "Financial light dims for Brisbane’s road tunnel".

    earth AGW
  • The Met Office have published their "Climate summary" for April, part of which is the - "UK actual and anomaly maps" (What is shown can be varied by making a selection on the left and then clicking on the "Make your selection and click here to display your map" box.)
    The default map shows that most of Britain was two degrees Celsius warmer than the April average (for 1971 - 2000). As is usual, it is difficult to equate what the Met Office says with what most people experience.
    Another continuing puzzle is that rainfall is generally low despite the claim that the climate is warmer. According to the AGW theory: CO2 = warming = more water vapour and more warming = more CO2 and so on. Though in sources like Wikipedia, the link between CO2 and more rain has been deleted from the AGW canon.

    Saturday 8 May 2010

    britain" Election
  • James Delingpole in Telegraph - "Cameron's first stupid mistake".
    The British electorate is swamped by the news media with information about the election, but yet, of course, it is kept almost totally ignorant of what matters.
    People are told that the Queen is just a figurehead who takes no part in the process of Government, but with the rest of the establishment she decided on at least one occasion who would become Prime Minister (Douglas-Home in 1963).
    Britain also still has a partly hereditary upper chamber, and a corrupt system of patronage and "honours".

    The first past the post system usually provides "strong" government, but is unfair to smaller parties. Labour and the Lib Dems want to change this to a "Transferable Vote" system, but this is almost as unfair as it is designed to keep out all but the three main parties, who already have an advantage with TV coverage.

    But the most Bizarre and unfair part of the system is the way that England is treated compared with the other three parts of the "United Kingdom".
    Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales determine much of the legislation that affects them and administer most services - with no one from England involved. But English law and English administration comes from a UK Parliament and Government that includes members from the other three parts of the UK. As well as the English people, the other big loser from this unfair sytem is the Tory party, who generally have a majority of the MPs for English consituencies but a minority for the UK as a whole. You would expect the Tories to demand an English Parliament and government, but they keep quiet. We don't know why, but the answer will have nothing to do with democracy

    With this last election there has been some comment that the electoral system favours Labour over the Tories. Sometimes this has been the other way round - for instance the post war Labour Government lost office in 1951 (and were out of office for next 13 years) despite getting 1.3 million more votes than the Tories.
    The main losers with the first past the post system are usually the smaller parties. In this last election UKIP got over 900 thousand votes and no seats. One small party did well - the Democratic Unionists who received less than 200 thousand votes won 8 seats - but that was because they were the biggest party in a small pond.

    Party Seats Million votes % of electorate Thousand Votes per seat
    Non voters 0 15.75 34.7 Infinite
    UKIP 0 0.92 2.0 Infinite
    BNP 0 0.56 1.2 Infinite
    Ulster Conservatives 0 0.10 0.2 Infinite
    Others 0 0.49 1.1 Infinite
    Election postponed 1 0.00 0.0 None
    Green 1 0.29 0.6 285.6
    Liberal Democrat 57 6.83 15.0 119.8
    SNP 6 0.49 1.1 81.9
    Plaid Cymru 3 0.17 0.4 55.1
    Alliance Party 1 0.04 0.1 42.8
    SDLP 3 0.11 0.2 37.0
    Conservative 306 10.71 23.6 35.0
    Sinn Fein 5 0.17 0.4 34.4
    Labour 258 8.60 18.9 33.4
    Speaker 1 0.02 0.1 22.9
    Democratic Unionist 8 0.17 0.4 21.0
    TOTAL: 650 45.42 100.0  

    usa USA Roundup
  • Sundry stories - Texas - "TxDOT: No New Roads After 2012"   "Pennsylvania proposes interstate highway tolls at state borders" some comments.

    britain" Speculation
  • Transport Xtra - "What would a Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition mean for transport?".

    nigeria More Nigerian tolls
  • All Africa - "Police, Army Clash Averted over Illegal Road Blocks at Seme/Badagry Road".

    canada Bit more on tussle over New Brunswick toll bridge
  • Telegraph-Journal - "Bridge toll 'unacceptable:' Alward".

    earth AGW
  • Details of Thursday's meeting of the House of Representative's "Select Committee for Energy Independence and Global Warming" on Climategate - House - "The Foundation of Climate Science - IPCC Report Chairs, Member of Exculpatory Panel on Email Scandal Re-establish Climate Science’s Broad Knowledge, Urgency to Act" video (this is 350 Mb file and will take a long time to "save").
    This is what Lord Monckton said - Prison Planet.

    Friday 7 May 2010

    usa USA Roundup
  • Mother's Day premium - Orange County Register - "91 tolls to rise for Mother's Day".

  • PPP not magic- Patriot-News - "Public-private road partnerhsips: not the magic solution".

  • Some curbing of DRPA political patronage using tolls money - Philadelphia Inquirer - "Funds to Fumo-linked nonprofits cut off".

  • The new Ohio bridge disagreement - WHAS11 - "7 mayoral candidates join the group "Say No to Bridge Tolls""   News and Tribune - "No funding plan presented at bridges meeting"   WLKY - "Bridge Authority Elects New Chairman".

  • Sundry stories - Pennsylvania - "Bad toll idea dying hard"   North Carolina - "Drivers to have options on tolls"   Virginia - "State sweetens pot for privately financed U.S. 460"   Louisiana - "La. 1 toll exemption now includes Grand Isle residents".

    britain" New MP says that she will fight Dartford tolls
  • Basildon Recorder - "Tory Jackie claims Thurrock seat".
    We are very pleased that the new MP says that "First on my agenda will be fighting the privatisation of the Dartford Crossing and to campaign for the removal of the tolls." The previous Labour MP also once fought for the removal of the tolls, he failed though he won a virtual exemption for his own consituents. If anything a Tory Government is even less likely to do anything about removing Dartford tolls, as they will want more motorway tolls and privatisation, not less.

    canada usa Bit more on tussle over New Brunswick toll bridge
  • Telegraph-Journal - "Harbour Bridge crisis over, but MP still wants tolls gone".

    netherlands chimaera More on computer firms selling tolls to the Dutch
  • Embedded Control - "NXP strengthen its position in the automotive marke".
    The so called "landmark road pricing trial" involved just 50 drivers - all of them employed by NXP or Big Blue.

    britain" Hung Parliament may be best, for roads users
  • All of the parties are anti roads users, so it is a case of which is the least bad outcome. A Tory Government would have meant a substantial increase in the use of tolls, but a Tory / Lib Dem coalition would be even worse. The best that we can hope for is either a Labour / Lib Dem coalition or a minority Tory government. Either of the two latter outcomes would reduce the size of anti driver measures, though they would probably also mean another General Election within 18 months.
    BBC - "Election 2010"   CNN - "UK faces hung parliament despite Conservative gains".

    slovakia Bit more on Slovak truckers suspect fraud
  • Spectator - "NDS admits problems in the way truckers are charged for highway tolls".

    australia Bit more on Treasury Troll plan
  • A Bus News - "Rudd defers road charges decision".

    earth AGW
  • AGW scientists say "stop picking on us" - ABC - "Scientists Decry "Assaults" on Climate Research"<   Guardian - "Leading scientists condemn 'political assaults' on climate researchers".

  • A little criticism from within AGW camp - BBC - "Ozone hole discoverer's warning".
    Oddly, the scientific consensus is that more ozone means more of this dreadful warming, and more ozone at ground level is a pollutant as it causes respiratory problems. But the advantages of more ozone in the upper atmosphere, outweigh these. So perhaps the scientists could also find something good to say about CO2 so that it is not described as "pollution"? How about a scientist rediscovering that CO2 is essential to all life on Earth?

    Thursday 6 May 2010

    usa USA Roundup
  • Sundry stories - Indiana / Kentucky - "Louisville mayoral candidates slam bridge-toll proposal"   Virginia - "State seeks private proposals for U.S. 460 work"   Indiana / Kentucky - "Tolling existing highways would require rare federal approval"   Pennsylvania - "OPINION: Pa. special session unlikely to deliver on transportation funding"   DC / Virginia - "Fairfax eyes more tolls to fund high-speed transit network".

    britain" DfT stats
  • Despite it being election day the DfT have issued some more stats - "Road Traffic and Congestion in Great Britain: Quarter 1 2010" links to data at top right. Traffic was down 2.1 per cent compared with a year ago and inter urban congestion down about 6.5 per cent. Urban congestion was unchanged - as traffic was down, the urban congestion presumably remained because of the continuing efforts of local authorities to slow and stop vehicles.

    britain" Finger on the button
  • BBC - "Is dawdling on a pelican crossing illegal?".
    This story says that "The button-bashing protester has already been warned by police officers he could be committing an offence." This is different to the report on yesterday's PM programme. The police had said that they would do nothing unless there was a "breach of the peace" (when presumably they would provide a guard for the protestor to carry on creating congestion).
    The solution to many traffic problems is, of course, more by-passes etc, but that would be likely to produce far more protestors.

    earth AGW
  • "Climate change" is turning Bolivia into a desert - Solve Climate - "Don't Sleep on Soil: Huge Carbon Sink is Leaking".
    Bolivia has a widely varying geography, and most of it is challenging - too high, too wet, too dry. But the main cause of any "desertification" is likely to be the threefold increase in population in only 50 years.

  • An example of the AGW camp expecting the general public to accept contradictory things - BBC - "Vegetation Found to Be Contributing to Global Warming".
    This latest theory is that increased CO2 will cause less evaporation in plants and that less evaporation means less cooling in the atmosphere. But according to the official climate change bible, the main warming effect from CO2 is because the warming caused by it causes more water vapour which is supposed to be the main "greenhouse gas".

    Wednesday 5 May 2010

    usa USA Roundup - later stories
  • Streetsblog (NY) - "Road Pricing Won’t Fly Without Driver Support".

  • Proposal for tolls on Pennsylvania border - WJACTV - "Local Rep. Proposes Interstate Highways Tolls To Help Balance State Budget"   Post-Gazette - "3 legislators propose $1 fee on interstates at borders"   The Bill (pdf).

  • One man refuses to pay - The Journal - "Wisconsin man raises questions about bridge toll".

  • Big Blue hoping for toll tagging profits - "IBM and Texas Transportation Institute to Collaborate on Intelligent Transportation Projects".

    britain" Bikers are Green
  • Motorcycle News - ""Bikers would be better off under Lib Dems"".
    A motorcycle can produce more real pollution than a car - LA Times - "Motorcycles and emissions: The surprising facts", but then the Lib Dems have probably never been near one. Or is it that the Lib Dems like this article in Sport Rider - "Motorcycles And Pollution" - believe that CO2 = pollution?

    britain" More on the Election
  • Autoblog - "Driving the election: which way should motorists vote tomorrow?".
    The real answer is that none of them deserve the endorsement of drivers.

    usa USA Roundup
  • There are dozens of stories today on Pennsylvania's woes, here are a few - Philadelphia Inquirer - "Rendell urges legislature to find transportation funds"   Times Leader - "Pa. seeking new route to funding roadblock"   Post Gazette - "Rendell calls for more cash for roads".

  • Bloomberg says that congestion pricing would help to stop terrorists - WNYC - "Times Square Suspect Charged, Admits Role in Failed Attack".

  • Sundry stories - Florida - "Toll-road work will create jobs, cut traffic jams, study finds"   Louisiana - "Grand Isle residents should be exempt from La. 1 tolls, House says".

    malaysia Bit more on possible toll takeover
  • MySinchew - "The goose that lays golden eggs".

    slovakia Slovak truckers suspect fraud
  • Spectator - "Truckers’ group files criminal complaint over road tolls".

    china Chinese Con Charge
  • Global Times - "Ministry-level official proposes 'congestion fee' to battle gridlock".
    Strange that the Chinese are unaware that the London Con only had a temporary effect on congestion levels. If they want to discourage driving, then they could take the simple step of bringing in a fuel tax.

    earth AGW
  • BBC - "'Profound' decline in fish stocks shown in UK records". There is something weird about this story - it doesn't blame "climate change".

  • Tomorrow the House of Representative's "Select Committee for Energy Independence and Global Warming" meets for a Climategate whitewash - House - "Next Hearing Thursday, May 6: The Foundation of Climate Science". There is one hostile witness - Christopher Monckton. It is not clear whether he is there because he is a peer or because he is not an expert, we will look out for a video of the meeting.

    Tuesday 4 May 2010

    britain" Election hustings
  • You and Yours today interviewed the transport spokesmen for the main parties - BBC (the interview starts at 39 minutes 15 seconds in). Labour were not there, Norman Baker for the Lib Dems admitted that they plan to toll all motorways and dual carriageways, which he said would be "revenue neutral". The Tories (Teresa Villiers) said that they thought the Lib Dems had it wrong and that they opposed "national road pricing". No one seemed to realise that the Lib Dem system would cost billions to set up and administer, and no one asked what the Tory toll plans were. The parties were vying with each other to offer subsidies to the minority who use rail, despite the fact that the overall transport budget will be cut - no prizes for guessing who will pay the piper.

    usa USA Roundup
  • Getting rid of "socialist" untolled roads - Philadelphia Business Today - "Private toll roads are on their way back".

  • Pennsylvania woes - Mercury - "Rendell in denial as fiscal crisis grows"   Land Line Mag - "Pennsylvania’s special session on transportation begins May 4"   Links to the Pennsylvania Transportation funding reports.

  • Sundry stories - Washington State - "Drivers still warming to HOT lanes on SR 167".

    britain" Election virus
  • There are emails circulating urging people to vote to get the Labour Government out as this will "cut petrol and diesel prices". We don't know if these were started off by one of the other parties or by the great brain who started the "DON'T purchase ANY petrol from the two biggest oil companies (which now are one), ESSO and BP" viral message. The fact is that fuel duty has increased at a lower rate under Labour than it did under the Tories - our new Fuel Duty page.
    What is most unfair about fuel duty is that drivers pay far more in various taxes than is spent on the roads. This will continue, whichever of the main parties is in power.

    nigeria Possible toll protest
  • Vanguard - "Storm over tolling of Lagos-Epe Expressway".
    Judging by the story we had on 13 April - "Toll casualties", protestors better beware.

    australia Bit more on Empty toll tunnel
  • Courier Mail - "Poor Clem7 patronage sees RiverCity Motorways extend discounted tolls until June 30" lot of comments   Sydney Morning Herald - "Motorists continue to shun Clem7" some comments.

    earth AGW
  • Different views on Arctic Ice - International Business Times (Oz) - "Global warming accelerated by Arctic ice loss"   Anchorage Daily News (Alaska) - "Polar bear patrols vital as Arctic ice recedes"   Canada Free Press - "(Desperately) Looking for Arctic warming"   National Post (Canada) - "Lawrence Solomon: Arctic ice sets records in April, could auger global cooling".

    Monday 3 May 2010

    britain" Tory Council Leaders attack Lib Dems
  • Telegraph - "General Election 2010: Lib Dems back plans for road pricing across country"   Telegraph letters - see part way down - "Priced off the road".
    It is a bit odd that at this late stage (the Lib Dem manifesto was published on 14th April, and what it says is in line with their previous policy), the Tories are attacking this. Though it is also odd that the Tories are raising it at all, as Tory Central Office may not want to be seen attacking a policy that they may adopt themseves.

    usa USA Roundup
  • Sundry stories - Pennsylvania - "Editorial: New plan must bypass tolls"   Maine - "Toll loss is argued by town".

    australia Treasury Troll wants spy in the sky tax
  • ZDNet - "Henry suggests GPS for street tax".
    Though it seems that he may not get his way - ATN - "Rudd defers road charges decision"   Sydney Morning Herald - "Congestion to continue: RACQ"   Sydney Morning Herald - "Time will cut through the frenzy surrounding the Henry review"   Sydney Morning Herald - "People 'will pay to sit in a carpark'".

    malaysia Possible toll takeover
  • Business Week - "Malaysia Group May Sell Bonds for $15.6 Billion Highways Bid".

    earth AGW
  • Distorting Canada's temperature - Canada Free Press - "Climate Policies Based on Distorted Temperatures".

    Sunday 2 May 2010

    britain" The Dartford damned
  • Kent News - "Dartford crossing tolls a headache for candidates".
    Users of the Dartford Crossing, as elsewhere in Britain, have little to choose between the three main parties. Though local candidates who say that they will oppose the tolls are better than the ones in some areas of Britain who say that they support them, which indicates something about either the intelligence of the candidate or the candidate's assessment of the intelligence of the voters.

    australia Empty toll tunnel may extend discounts
  • Courier Mail - "Clem7 operator considers discount toll as patronage falls below expectations".

    united Bit more on Sharjah tolls kick in
  • The National - "Lorries in rush to avoid Sharjah’s Dh100 toll".
    As usual one excuse for the tolls is that it will reduce congestion, but one truck driver who did not want to be named says - "It has never been like this and I think it’s getting worse."

    usa USA Roundup
  • Sundry stories - California - "Senator aims to give car pool users a free ride in toll lanes"   NY - "Xerox at Center of E-Z Pass Labor Dispute"   Pennsylvania - "Lawmakers to mull privatization, mileage tax to replace toll revenue".

    japan Bit more on topsy turvy tolls
  • Japan Times - "Editorial - For whom the tolls grow".

    earth AGW
  • AGW will kill you in 1,001 ways - National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences - "A Human Health Perspective On Climate Change" (pdf) report issued on 21 April.

    britain" House prices
  • Land Registry - "House Price Index - March 2010". The index released on Friday gave year on year inflation of 7.5% for March. The banks and building societies have said that April inflation will be even higher. It is likely that whoever wins the election, house prices will continue to inflate due to low interest rates, population growth and curbs on building. When the bubble bursts again, the results will be dire.

    Saturday 1 May 2010

    usa USA Roundup
  • An unusual idea to help reduce congestion - "Stop collecting tolls. Oops, did I really suggest such heresy? Yes, I did." - Hometown Annapolis (Maryland) - "Capital Mobility: My plan for easing Bay Bridge congestion".

  • Sundry stories - Pennsylvania - "Wipe out turnpike agency, Phillips says"   Florida - "Expressway board prevails again".

    britain" Telegraph tells its readers that Tories and Lib Dems are the "Motorists' champions"
  • "Which party will champion the motorist?".
    The endorsement is not a resounding one, but it shows how little the motorist counts that any of the parties are endorsed. It is however a pleasant change that one paper is asking about how the election may effect drivers as they have been largely kept in the dark by the parties and the news media. Most drivers will get a shock when they find that road taxes stay high; that driving becomes more difficult because of more vehicles (as immigration will continue almost unchecked), lower speed limits and less road space; and on top of all that it is them that will be paying more tolls and not just the other driver.

    canada usa Bit more on Canada to subsidise public private finance toll bridge
  • Crain's Detroit - "Canadian minister coy on DRIC toll revenue question".

    united Sharjah tolls kick in
  • The National - "Truckers and firms wary as Dh100 Sharjah road toll is introduced".

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