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May 2011 NEWS

Tuesday 31 May 2011

ulster scotland wales Norsemen meet to discuss England's Danegeld
  • BBC - "Devolved leaders gather for post-election meeting".

    earth Pop
  • BBC - "Food prices 'will double by 2030', Oxfam warns"   Reuters - "Hunger crisis worsens, food system broken: Oxfam".
    The BBC story has a link to OXFAM. The home page says "The System's bust. It's not just drought. Or famine. Or a bad harvest. Rising food prices, climate change and complacemt world leaders mean nearly 1 billion people don't have enough to eat.".

    If you click on the link from the above headline then you go to a page that says "There are lots of reasons why 1 in 7 of us will go hungry tonight." It highlights four - "Climate change", "Land grabs", "Food price hikes", and "Intensive farming". These reasons are bizarre, as all four of them have probably tended to increase food production, (increased CO2 and temperature will increase plant yields unless water and nutrients are a constraint; the land "grabs" probably mean that land that was unused, or underused, produces more food; price "hikes" will tend to increase supply; and "intensive" farming should mean higher yields).

    The truth that OXFAM's headline omits is that the biggest factor is population growth, which is currently 75 million a year.
    Up to now pop growth has to a large extent been coped with by more land being turned to arable use and improvements in agriculture, but it is unlikely that food production will continue to keep up with increased population. The UN's recent forecast was that there will be 3.1 billion more people by 2100. That forecast assumes a continuing fall in fertility. At current rates of fertility there will be nearly 20 billion more people to feed.

    PS According to Wikipedia what later became known as OXFAM met "for the first time in 1942, and its aim was to relieve famine in Greece caused by Allied naval blockades". It's main area of operation, however, for the last 50 years has been fighting famine in Africa. During those 50 years the pop of Africa has grown from 292 million to 1,037 million.

  • Concern about pop growth is a Commie plot - LewRockwell (US) - "Population Growth as Propaganda: The Greens and the Reds".

  • On the "growing" importance of India - Globe&Mail (Canada) - "The importance of India’s diaspora".

  • One of the rare reports that considers pop growth is bad - New Vision (Uganda) - "Uganda’s high population growth rate is a liability".

    earth AGW
    As usual there is no mention of population growth in any of these items.

  • Two from BBC - "Global carbon emissions reach record, says IEA"   "Emissions and growth continue their dance".

  • Two from Watts Up - "Kill It With Fire"   "Skeptic Strategy for Talking About Global Warming".

    Monday 30 May 2011

    usa USA Roundup
  • On the 15th we mentioned that on the 17th there was to be a Senate Finance Cttee hearing on infrastructure that was to hear from the trolls. There was little reporting of the hearing, but it included this - DC Streetsblog - "Sen. Kerry on Transportation Funding: “We’re in a Crazy Place Right Now”"   Washington Examiner- "If at first government fails, then spend, spend again".
    The written submissions and a video are at - Senate Finance Cttee - "Financing 21st Century Infrastructure".
    The GOP oppose more spending and oppose more taxes. But it seems that they are happy if roads are privatized and that they don't consider tolls to be a tax. So whichever party is in power, it looks as if drivers will be screwed.

  • The "it's useless to build more roads" theory again - WSJ - "More Roads, More Traffic". (The research report referred to does not appear to be published yet.)
    The idea that say 10 per cent more roads is the cause of 10 per cent more driving is the usual nonsense from researchers who may be a dab hand at statistics but seem not to know the real world.
    Though more roads will have an effect, the demand is mainly driven by other factors (cost of owning a car, cost of using a car, driver's income, leisure time, and population growth - which means more drivers and longer journies to work etc).

  • "Good to Go" - News Tribune (Washington State) - "After delay, nearly 20,000 drivers get Narrows bridge-toll tickets".

  • APP (New Jersey) - "Small gasoline tax hike could eliminate tolls" letter.
    Those commenting are opposed to the idea, because the tolls mainly affect other drivers and particularly those who are from out of state. The letter writer is also accused of being a "socialist".

  • Sundry stories - New Hampshire - "Motorist Killed in Crash at Hooksett Toll's was Student from the Congo"   Texas - "House OKs transportation sunset committee report"   Penn. - "Route 422 tolls under review by state panel"   Va. - "More toll hikes could be coming to the area"   "R.I. panel wants to boost taxes, fees to repair roads"   Florida - "Motorists Can Sue Over Toll-Booth Detentions"   N.H. - "Revised toll study could change turnpike course".

    usa europe A "Confused Picture"
  • Handy Shipping Guide - "Freight Tolls For Trucks Take Up New And Varied Technologies".

    europe Markets not trusted
  • BBC - "Motoring groups demand petrol price investigation".

    ireland No hiding place from trolls
  • Irish Trucker - "Tailgating motorists to come under the radar".

    japan Small twist to the victory of the trolls
  • Mainichi Daily News - "Gov't mulls making highways in disaster-hit areas toll-free".
    It is laughable that the Government which was persuaded to completly abandon its promise to remove all tolls (with the last excuse being that they were needed to pay for the cost of March's earthquake and tsunami) are now thinking about removing tolls in the quake area "to help the region's recovery".
    If the Japanese Government had not been blinded by various interests, then it would have seen that if it needed more revenue, it would be better to increase fuel taxes rather than keep an inefficient tolls system. This would have increased the incentive (for drivers and car manufacturers) for greater fuel economy, and thus reduced the country's reliance on oil imports and / or on nuclear power.

    south More on the new Toll Road State
  • IoL - "Many more toll roads coming"   Mail&Guardian - "More toll roads planned as govt seeks to plug deficit"   ITWeb - "No ballooning of e-toll costs".

    canada Toll tales from Canada
  • Province (BC) - "Haven't we motorists been taxed enough?".

  • Following the dentist's diagnosis, the Toronto trolls have come back to life - Star - "Road toll ‘reality check’ stirs up Toronto council"   Star - "Ford’s subways will require tolls and grants" lot of comments   National Post - "The end of the line for the Sheppard subway?".

    singapore Another "futile" letter
  • Today online - "Besides ERP, any other solution?".

    wales More on MPs having a larf
  • South Wales Argus - "Tolls could be cut to just £1.50 - MP".
    The chairman of the Welsh Affairs Committee must know that under the current law, the tolls would have to be removed, not "cut" to £1.50. If the tolls are the main thing that his constituents complain about, then why does he not fight to see that they are removed?

    britain" Looking after the important people
  • BBC - "Pay deals of top bosses 'not linked to performance'".
    The directors of British companies in effect appoint themselves. They use the company's money to produce glossy reports to fool the investors that they are doing a good job. The auditors are nominally appointed by the shareholders, but in practice are picked by the directors. Until there is independent auditing and reporting, then the few will gorge themselves while Britain's firm get sicker or are taken over by foreign interests.

    earth AGW
  • BBC - "Germany pledges to end all nuclear power by 2022".
    Nuclear plants provided 23 per cent of Germany's energy. Pulling the plug out will mean that the consumption (and price) of gas and oil will be higher.

    Sunday 29 May 2011

    earth Pop
  • Premier's businessman friend wants everyone to have six children, and "After his procreation promotion, (he) urged governments to build more roads, bridges and railways" - Herald Sun - "'Make love tonight and create another baby for Australia'".

    earth Peacekeeping
  • Britain is to drop bigger bombs - BBC - "RAF to get 'bunker busters' for Libya mission"   BBC - "Nato planes target Gaddafi's Tripoli compound".
    It is said that the bombs are to attack - "command centres and communications nodes". In fact these were rendered inoperable in the initial missile attacks. The real aim of NATO is to create a power vacuum by either killing Gaddafi and members of the Government or by intimidating the people of Tripoli so that they do what NATO wants.

    Saturday 28 May 2011

    canada “Everybody in the world is paying tolls, what’s so special about us?”
  • Star - "Ford’s subways will require tolls and grants".
    The man who will help the Mayor extract money from drivers to pay for a four billion dollars mass transit scheme is a dentist, so perhaps the drivers will be anaesthetised first!

    singapore Futile
  • Today online - "ERP exercise in futility?" letter.
    Singapore has the most sophisticated "congestion" tolling system in the world, but on an island which is less than half the soze of London, the average car is driven 12,500 miles a year (our Singapore section). But it is futile to think for one moment that the politicians would scrap this much trumpeted but ineffective scheme and replace it and the controls on car ownership with measures that would help people move round in an area which is more crowded than London.

    london usa More on how to be diplomatic with the head of the world's biggest war machine
  • Mail - "'The Beast will pay the charge': Obama forced by London Mayor Boris Johnson to pay congestion charge for his armoured limo".

    britain" And it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard, and it's a hard. It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall.
  • BBC - "Bank of England's Spencer Dale warns of hard times".
    The Bank's policy is to use cheap money and the resulting inflation, to make those with cash or jobs poorer and narrow the export / import gap. These policies will succeed in making most of us poorer (though those with real assets financed by paper money debt will get richer) and will increase the volume of exports (though probably not the value of them), but they will fail to sort out an inefficient economy. So the hard rain is likely to be falling - on most of us - for a very long time.

    Friday 27 May 2011

    britain" Beat the Con plan
  • Pocket-Lint - "TomTom's plans to rid your city of traffic".

    usa USA Roundup
  • One of the rare suggestions for removal of any toll - Salem News - "Best Turnpike option: Free".

  • Airport train scam could hit the rails - NBC - "Lawsuit Could Affect Toll Road Drivers, Dulles Metro".

  • A study (published in March) suggests that rises in gas prices due to the ups (and downs) of oil prices have a limted effect on drivers, but that a one-dollar increase in gasoline taxes would increase the average mpg of new vehicles by nearly 50 per cent - Sightline Daily - "Gas Prices: Them's The Brakes"   Stanford - "Gasoline Taxes and Consumer Behavior" pdf.
    Logically, politicians would put up gas taxes (and, hopefully, cut tolls) but the trolls and the complex political and military machine that revolves around oil and imports would never allow it.
    In Maryland it has been suggested that the State gas tax is temporarily removed - WBALtv - "Gas Tax Holiday? Motorists Applaud Idea" video. It is said that this will encourage tourism and boost the economy. Presumably the planned toll increases in Maryland will also boost the economy?
    A similar scheme has been approved by the NY Senate - Streetsblog - "In Effort to Pander to Drivers, 48 Senators Vote to Up Oil Company Profits".

  • Suggestion that tolls should be lifted when tolls are busy, though it does not occur to the paper that tolls cause some delay to drivers 365 days of the year - Delaware Online - "DelDOT should stop its holiday toll collections".
    Elsewhere in America there are also warnings of delays at the tolls over the Memorial Day weekend.

  • Daily Miner - "Billionaires are trying to buy privitization". The closing comment quotes from a privatization supporter who says "remember that tolls work for the River Styx, why not the Beltway?". The response is "What a perfect metaphor for privatization! In ancient mythology, dead souls must pay a toll to be ferried across the River Styx and enter the depths of hell."

  • Consumer Affairs - "Suit Charges Fox Car Rental Fleeces Customers for Tolls".

  • The latest Louisiana toll bridge is the usual tale of waste and worse. But this "model" of how to pay for roads should be fixed rather than the tolls scrapped according to a local paper - Houma Today - "Fix the La. 1 toll system".

  • Some opposition to mileage tolls - Journal Times (Wisconsin) - "Mileage tax idea should be junked".

  • Sundry stories - Maryland - "Senator wants toll hearings planned now"   Maryland - "'Dramatic' Bay Bridge toll increases threaten beach towns"   Maine - "Turnpike bill wins House approval"   Minnesota - "Opposition puts brakes on 35E toll lanes"   "NH toll plaza victim was student from Congo"   Louisiana - "Senate panel approves legislation to form CCC task force"   Washington State - "Tunnel to cost 3 times as much to operate as viaduct".

    "Beach traffic to North Carolina faces higher toll"   Florida - "Motorists who Paid Tolls with Large Bills Illegally Detained by Private Company" video   "Power over Texas toll roads stirs debate at Capitol" video   Florida - "Toll battle opens over Wekiva Parkway"   Florida - "Will Beltway Lead To Toll Hikes?" video   Florida - "No toll increase needed for Wekiva Parkway?"   Michigan / Canada - "Lawmakers reject plan to use $50 million in bridge funds"   Delaware - "Thanks for writing, now we'll take your toll money".

    south More on new tolls
  • Times Live - "No 'ballooning of costs' for toll roads: Sanral"   ITWeb - "More tolls incoming"   Business Report - "Gauteng toll report to take more time"   Times Live - "Gauteng toll roads may cost R14bn".

    china China paved with tolls
  • Global Times - "Paved with gold "   Global Times - "Highway grid to be finished by 2015: MOT".

    britain" "Private" finance
  • Public Finance - "Son of PFI: achievable or a bridge too far?".
    The scheme mentioned in the story about a new bridge at Runcorn (near Liverpool) is a good example of the folly of politicians and how easily thet are duped. No private finance would have been forthcoming for this scheme as there was already an untolled bridge. So the deal was that the private financers would be handed the free bridge so that they could toll that as well and drivers would have to cough up whichever bridge they used. Even that was not enough and there were to be "PFI credits" which are now to be changed to straight cash to cover 30 per cent of the scheme's costs. For about the same amount of money they could have built an untolled bridge years ago.

    europe More on Eurovignette rules for lorries
  • EuroPolitics - "Council and EP react fairly positively to Eurovignette deal".

    london usa More on the pommy whingeing
  • Telegraph - "President Barack Obama is told by London mayor Boris Johnson: 'When am I going to get my £5 million?’"   BBC - "Barack Obama's 'The Beast' incurs £10 London C-charge".
    Given the billions that America has extorted from BP, and the way in which Britain has ben dragged into wars that were stirred up by the CIA or White House, the President must be wondering how servile and senile a nation can be when its main complaint is about not paying the London Con.
    One of the few journalists who is immune to the usual spin - Telegraph - "This isn’t a special relationship, it’s sinister and sycophantic".

    earth Money
  • Paper Money Collapse.

  • BBC - "Japan beats deflation for the first time in two years".
    Ideally if money is not real it is at least stable in price. But the BBC and others spread the fairy story that it is good when there is inflation.

  • Greece is told that it must sell more assets to private sector, otherwise it will not get money from EU - BBC - "IMF may block aid payments to Greece, Juncker warns".

    earth Pop
  • Proposition from a Canadian think tank that we should not be worried about pop growth as it has not been a problem and won't be - Financial Post - "The running out of resources myth".

    Thursday 26 May 2011

    usa USA Roundup
  • Traffic congestion "will rise more than 30 percent over the period 2000 to 2030" and lead to more deaths from PM10s - Transportation Construction Coalition - "The Public Health Costs of Traffic Congestion" pdf.
    This "public health" report has been sponsored by the construction companies and labor unions.
    According to the US Census Bureau over the period 2000 to 2030, the US pop will grow from 282 million to 374 million. That's 32.4 percent and it is likely that the growth in the urban areas will be higher than the average. Is more road tolls and "congestion pricing" really the answer to all the problems that will be caused by this growth in pop?

  • Driver dies when he crashes into a "do not stop" toll - Boston Herald - "1 killed in fiery crash at toll booth in NH"   WMUR - "Police Work To Identify Driver In Fatal Toll Booth Crash" video   Nashua Telegraph - "Police: Victim of tollbooth fatal attending school on student visa".

    britain" chimaera Ghoul from the past shows signs of life
  • This report (dated March) was very quietly issued this Tuesday - DfT - "Road Pricing Demonstrations Project" inc links to report etc.
    All four submissions propose tolling with the use of satellites. The work was commissioned on the basis that all vehicles would be tolled, but a disclaimer at the front of the report says that "The Government has ruled out national road pricing for cars on existing roads, and any preparation for such a scheme, for the duration of this Parliament.". So the implication is that only lorries, and possibly vans, would be included - initially.

    london usa More pommy whingeing
  • Boris apparently asked Barack to pay the Con - Evening Standard - "Pay up Obama: President made to cough up C-charge for 'The Beast'".

    japan More on Earthquake tolls or the victory of the trolls
  • Stars & Stripes - "Japan to stop toll-free program on expressways".

    earth Pop
  • Yesterday we had a story about Nigeria's pop in 2100 reaching 730 million (at current fertility the figure is 2,660 million). Today there is story about how this pop growth is good for everyone - Lifesite News - "‘Africans love children’: Nigerian engineer busts population growth propaganda".

    earth Peacekeeping
  • The EU and the UN have seized control of 70 billion dollars of Libyan investments - BBC - "Libyan assets held by leading global banks".
    By coincidence it has also been announced that the EU is to give money to North African and Arab countries - BBC - "EU announces extra aid to shore up Arab democracy". It is not clear how much of the one billion pounds (1.6 billion dollars) in "aid" will go to Libya.

    Wednesday 25 May 2011

    singapore More on Spy in the Sky and Handout for Big Blue
  • People's Daily - "Singapore plans trial run of new road pricing system soon"   Today online - "The drive towards satellite-based ERP" comments   Business Times - "Beyond gantries, a new ERP system".

    south More on expected report on new tolls
  • IoL - "Report on toll fees by this weekend".

    norway Norway not so green
  • Despite high fuel taxes, tolls on tunnels and bridges, and congestion charges - News In English - "Norway spews out more emissions".

    london usa More on more diplomacy
  • Boris apparently asked Barack to pay the Con - Guardian - "Boris, Obama and the congestion charge".
    If the Mayor or his predecessor thought that they had the law on their side, then the embassies would have been taken to court long ago.

    europe More on Eurovignette rules for lorries
  • Euro Parliament - "Agreement on charging lorries for noise and air pollution".

    ireland Trolls fight on
  • Irish Times - "Battle over toll road fees goes to the Supreme Court".

    earth Peacekeeping
  • Barack and David practise barbecuing Gaddafi and anyoneelse who opposes the rebels - BBC - "President Obama in UK: Gaddafi will 'lose power'".

    earth Pop
  • BBC - "Nigeria population: Sachs' three-baby plan 'tricky'".
    The report says that Nigeria's pop "could jump to 730 million by 2100". This implies that the 730 million is a projection of the current birth rate. In fact the 730 million is the UN's "Medium variant" of three, all of which assume falls in fertility.
    The UN's forecast of Nigeria's pop in 2100 at current fertility is 2,660 million - that is more than what the population of the whole world was 60 years ago. Something will have to change or break, and the 2,660 million will never be reached, but in the meantime the world is hurtling towards disaster.
    Just to remind you that the UN forecast for the whole world at current fertility is 26,844 million - so the problem is not just one country.

    Tuesday 24 May 2011

    singapore Handout for Big Blue
  • Singapore is giving money to four companies, including IBM, to develop trial spy in the sky systems to replace the toll gantries - Channel News Asia - "Tenders to develop new ERP system awarded".

    singapore Some tolls are zero for school hols
  • Straits Times - "Lower ERP rates for June school holidays ".

    south More on new tolls
  • Business Day - "Gauteng toll road report due this weekend".

    canada Toll tales from Canada
  • Tolling starts on new bridge - "Montreal-Laval toll bridge opens".

  • Letter - The Province (BC) "Are tolls even legal?".

    britain" Be careful where you put your money
  • Daily Mail - "Fed up with the FTSE 100? You can invest in the M80".
    Tolls should certainly be a money spinner, but what this article does not say is that it mainly depends on whether drivers have a real choice or not. Even where they are forced to use the toll, the returns are reducedcbecause there are too many snouts in the trough, and a lot of the dividends from some of these comapies are financed by increased debt.

    britain" AA view of red tape
  • "Cutting Bureaucracy in Transport Regulation".

    china Chinese gravy train
  • One toll road employs over 400 people to look after less than 100 kilometres of road - People's Daily - "Toll companies employ too many".
    China has over half of the world's tolls (by length), so the tolls business must be keeping a lot of people employed, if not "busy".

    britain" Tax free toll tax for sale
  • BBC - "Whitney-on-Wye bridge for sale with tax-free income"   Daily Mail - "For sale, the tax haven bridge where owner can earn £2,000 a week in tolls".

    britain" Another month over and deeper in debt
  • BBC - "UK public borrowing higher than expected in April"   ONS - "Public sector finances April 2011" pdf.
    The ONS in their press release seemed to be looking on the bright side, as they headlined it "Public Sector Finances - April lower net borrowing".

    earth Pop
  • One of the rare mentions of the problem of pop growth - Jakarta Post - "Overcoming the threat of population boom".
    It is interesting that the percentage rate of growth in Indonesia is said to have been slightly higher in the 00s than in the 90s. The widely used US Census Bureau figures for all countries claim that there was a fall in the rate of growth over that period in Indonesia.

    earth Peacekeeping
  • As Obama meets Britain's hereditary of state and church, NATO launches Ride of the Valkyries campaign against Libya using Apache gunships - BBC - "Nato steps up air strikes on Tripoli"   BBC - "Libya unrest: UK and France 'to send helicopters'".

    earth AGW
  • MPs back use of shale gas - BBC - "MPs urge backing for UK shale gas"   Parliament - "Shale gas gets support from MPs in new report" inc link to report.
    The anti CO2 MPs seem to have gone against, not only common sense, but this recent study - Cornell University - "Natural gas from fracking could be 'dirtier' than coal, Cornell professors find". No doubt the public will be relieved that the committee chairman assures them that their tap water will be safe.

    Monday 23 May 2011

    britain" Government fires another missile at motorists
  • BBC - "Uninsured vehicles subject to new rules and fines"   DfT press release - "Motorists are being warned to insure their vehicles ahead of a new crackdown to tackle the menace of uninsured driving.".
    You don't have to insure your bicycle or even your house, but drivers are required to be insured. This is not to protect the driver or owner of the vehicle, but to ensure that if the driver causes an accident then the person suffering a loss can be compensated. One strange feature of the system is that through the Motor Insurers' Bureau those car owners who are insured are in effect taxed to pay for compensation that uninsured drivers (or drivers who may be insured but can't be identified) are liable for - thus increasing premiums. Perhaps it is not surprising that an estimated 1.4 million motorists are uninsured.
    But now in line with the general Government policy of bashing motorists, car owners are to be prosecuted if their vehicle in uninsured - even though they may not be the driver, and even though no one may be using the car. Some people of course will not be affected by the law, including those who are driving a vehicle were the DVLA have not got the details of who possesses the car, in 2010 there were estimated to be 300,000 unlicensed vehicles.
    If a million more motorists start paying insurance (even though they may not use the car) then the insurers will get a lot more income, without having to pay out a proportionate amount in claims (as the Bureau is already paying the third party compensation). So will premiums come down?

    earth AGW
  • Oz panel "delivers a strong rebuke to those who question that human emissions are causing global warming" BBC - "Australia Climate Commission says warming risk is real"   Sydney Morning Herald- "Sea-level fright as climate report goes public".

    Sunday 22 May 2011

    britain" Dagger in the chest
  • Independent - "George Osborne backs Christine Lagarde to lead IMF".
    The IMF, World Bank, and the system for international currency management were agreed during the Second World War based on proposals from John Maynard Keynes, the British economist. Despite them being a British idea, all the Presidents of the World Bank have been American, and so far all the heads of the IMF have been from mainland Europe - four French, two Swedes and one each from Belgium, Germany, Netherlands and Spain. Now we have the British Chancellor proposing yet another French head. As the French mainly look out for themselves and have already been in charge of the IMF for about 35 out of the 65 years it has been in operation, why is this?
    The reason is to scupper the chances of Gordon Brown. Whatever else he did or didn't do, he more than anybody stopped the world's Banking crisis from becoming a Depression. He also kept Britain out of the Euro Zone. A Zone that, George Osborne has spent many billions propping up, including about seven billion pounds to the Irish (about half directly and the rest though the European Financial Stabilisation Mechanism).
    Perhaps the Chancellor will get a Légion d'honneur garnished with a spay of lucky shamrock!

    Saturday 21 May 2011

    earth Peacekeeping
  • The BBC today have a story about the Taliban attacking a hospital in Kabul. The story has a link to some "facts" first on the BBC last year - BBC - "Who are the Taliban?".
    The impression given is that the Taliban are rebels that used to control "Pashtun areas straddling Pakistan and Afghanistan". In fact the Taliban were the Afghan Government and had sufficient control of most of the country to restrict the opium trade.
    An American website - Emperor's Clothes - a few days after the "9/11" attacks, had an alternative version of the background of the Taliban and bin Laden - "Articles Documenting U.S. Creation of Taliban and bin Laden's Terrorist Network".

    Friday 20 May 2011

    britain" Peak car
  • Independent - "Is this the end of the car?".
    The amount of car use per person peaked five to ten years ago, though this was to some extent masked because the ONS about five years ago started adjusting the figures on the assumption that the people who they had no data for were travelling more than the people that they really had data for.
    Whatever the reduction there are two problems. One is that the number of potential drivers is going up by about 250 thousand each year due to net immigration. The other is that if people travel the same distance, but do it by means other than car, then congestion on the transport system may not go down and travelling times may well go up as a car is the quickest means of getting from A to B for most journies.

    wales MPs have a larf
  • Wales Online - "Minister gives no hint Severn Bridge tolls will fall".
    The Roads Minister is well aware that the Welsh MPs are so feeble that they could not fight their way out of a paper bag. Under the current Severn bridge law the tolls should end in a few years, but the Government will be able to continue them in the guise of "road user charges" without hardly a squeak from the Welsh pols.

    china Another complaint about tolls
  • Global Times - "Web users accuse major bridges of charging exorbitant toll fees".

    london usa More diplomacy
  • BBC - "Obama 'may get £5m congestion bill', says Boris Johnson".

    earth AGW
  • On cosmic rays and aerosols - Cambridge Scientific Alliance - "Time to question the received wisdom on climate change?"   Watts Up - "New study links cosmic rays to aerosols/cloud formation via solar magnetic activity modulation".
    One of the oddities of global warming is that water in the air is at the same time a major "greenhouse" gas (far more significant than CO2) which warms the Earth by reflecting some of the infra red coming from the Earth's surface back down, and it cools the Earth because it is an aerosol which stops part of the Sun's radiation from reaching our lower atmosphere.
    According to NASA's "Earth Radiation Budget Experiment" carried out in the 1980s - "The cloud reflection of sunlight back to space dominates over the clouds' greenhouse effect. In fact, the planet would on average be some 20°F hotter if we removed clouds from the atmosphere". Though this experiment does not appear to have been "disproved", both AGW acolytes and heretics ignore it, because it seems to be inconsistent with both the AGW theory and the proposition that water vapour (not all of which is in clouds) is responsible for almost all of the warming.
    Not all aerosols come from water vapour, in particular part of it is due to smoke and other pollution (so reduced pollution means that the temperature would be higher).
    The suggestion now is that not only do the aerosols have the effect of cooling the Earth by blocking solar radiation, but by a strange twist the production of water aerosols is affected by the amount of solar radiation. So increased solar radiation would cool the Earth rather than warm it. It is further suggested that it is changes in cosmic radiation (caused by variations in the solar wind) which may be responsible for variations in the Earth's temperature rather than changes in CO2 being the main cause of temperature change.

    Piers Corbyn, the well known heretic and forecaster, does not agree with this suggestion and still says that the effect of the Sun on the Earth's temperature and weather is through solar particles and changes to the jet streams - Weather Action - "This is a theory which does not work".

    Thursday 19 May 2011

    usa USA Roundup
  • More on pushing of tolls to replace gas tax - MyBankTracker - "Driving Tax May Be Around The Corner"   iStockAnalyst - "Congestion Pricing Saves Time And Money".

  • Sundry stories - Maryland - "Tourism industry weighs toll-hike impacts"   Maryland - "$210 Million Toll Increase Package Could Not Come at Worse Time"   DC / Va. - "County Considers Pulling Funding From Dulles Rail" video   DC / Va. - "Loudoun County Considers Pulling Out of Metro's Silver Line" video   DC / Va. -"Metrorail’s taxation without representation"   Ohio - Land Line Mag - "Illinois bill opens door to privatization".

    australia "Two wheels good, four wheels bad"
  • Courier-Mail - "Motorists to be slugged in bid to double number of cyclists under National Urban Policy".

    ireland england Sorry
  • The Queen has been in Ireland giving sympathy for all those who died as a result of the English oppression including "14 people killed by British forces during a Gaelic football match 91 years ago". In fact the most that the average Englishman has had to do with Ireland is that he is probably related to one of the many Irish people who moved to England!
    If the Queen knows British history (which is largely about Kings and Queens), she should know that one of the earliest migrations was of the Scots - who came from Ireland - and supplanted the Picts in what became known as Scotland. It was not the English, but the Norman kings who in 1169 invaded Ireland (100 years after William the Bastard had conquered the English and turned them into serfs). Though a King did not call himself King of Scotland till the time of Henry VIII who took over the church and had a novel approach to divorce. Most of the later migration from Britain was from Scotland to the northern part of Ireland, where King Billy is popular though he was Dutch (he first invaded England, with the consent of the establishment, before fighting King James II in Ireland in 1690).
    Over the last 100 years most of the English involvement in Ireland has been because the Protestant Loyalist majority in the North did not want to be part of any Catholic Irish state and because the Catholic minority in the North did not want to be discriminated against by the Protestant majority there (who in turn were worried about eventually being outnumbered within the north).
    The visit was timed such that David Cameron was at the top table when the Queen gave her speech at the banquet in Dublin Castle. It was most unlikely that she would have gone to Ireland while the person who did the most to bring about the peace was PM. Blair did go to an independent school in Scotland, but Mr Cameron went to Eton!

    earth Pop
  • The number of people in England and Wales from "minority backgrounds" went up by 2.5 million in 8 years, mainly due to immigration but also due to high birth rate - Mail - "Immigration 'boosted the UK population by 1.75m in just eight years'". The ONS report is a bit difficult to find, but here it is - "Population Estimates by Ethnic Group 2002 – 2009". Over the 8 years "White British" actually went down by 37 thousand and "White Irish" went down by 72 thousand.

  • By coincidence, also yesterday, Migration Watch published this on the effect of migration on the number of drivers and congestion - "Migration and Road Transport in England".

  • Investors who believe that the pop and prices are going up - Money Morning - "Global Commodity Prices: Soaring Worldwide Population Growth and a Can't-Miss Profit Play".
    And one who believes that the pop growth will stop - Motley Fool - "Investment Strategies For The Coming Decade". This expert correctly says that growth (in terms of miilions added each year peaked in 1989 (at 87 million). What he doesn't say is that the decline has virtually stopped - the growth in 2010 of about 75.7 million was the same as in 2002.

    Wednesday 18 May 2011

    usa USA Roundup
  • More on pushing of tolls to replace gas tax - CNN (and syndicated) - "Forget The Gas Tax; Driving Tax May Be Next".

  • San Antonio Current - "TxDOT Sunset Bill giving birth to oversized clutch of toll roads across the state".

  • Washington State Governor is the Queen of the Trolls - Seattle Times - "Gregoire looks for new revenue sources for transportation projects"   Seattle Pi - "Gregoire signs Metro, tolling bills"   Seattle Times - "Gregoire: Public will need to pay more for roads".

  • Ohio River Crossing trolls spends a million bucks to find out how drivers will react to tolls!   Courier-Journal - "Costs piling up for Ohio River Bridges Project traffic study".

  • Sundry stories - "DC MetroRail expansion to Dulles Airport could affect VA Senate race"   "Dulles Rail: Call it Kaine's Katastrophe"   NJ - "Proposed rule targets toll cheats on Garden State Parkway"   Ohio - "Commissioners discuss turnpike resolution"   "Md. Lawmaker Opposes State Toll Hikes" video   "R.I. Exploring Putting Tolls on Interstate 95".

    india Toll rise on another empty road
  • My Banglaore - "NICE corridor: the most expensive road in Bangalore".
    The road links the city of Bangalore which has 6 million people with the nearby smaller city of Mysore, so they are not short of potential users!

    britain" Official unemployment down by 36,000
  • BBC - "UK unemployment falls by 36,000 to 2.46 million"   ONS - "Labour market statistics May 2011" pdf.
    It is a good sign that the figure is falling rather than rising. But with the unemployment rate still so high, it is possible that unemployment is falling because instead of looking for fulltime work, people are going to college or taking part time jobs (the number of part timers has gone up by 24,000 in the last quarter; two years ago part-timers were 25.9 per cent of those working, a year ago it was 26.8 per cent and now it is 27.2 per cent).

    britain" From the Old Lady
  • BofE - "Minutes Of The Monetary Policy Committee Meeting 4 And 5 May 2011" pdf.
    As usual there is a two week delay between the meeting and the publication of the minutes which explain the latest "decision" to let inflation do what it wilt. Presumably the bank isn't short of someone who can type, so why do they leave the public and the markets in the dark about their thoughts?

    earth AGW
  • Following the official leak at the weekend, it was confirmed yesterday afternoon that the Government was setting a high statutory target for reducing British man made CO2 - BBC - "Chris Huhne briefs MPs on long-term carbon target"   Independent - "'Ambitious' emissions cuts accepted".
    PS After the announcement the Energy and Climate Change Secretary was asked some questions by his Labour shadow. She ended - "Finally, what plans do the Government have for introducing road pricing, as suggested by the Committee? Has he consulted the Transport Secretary? Is that a policy for the next Parliament, or is there an urgent need to legislate for vehicle use now?"
    The reply was "The hon. Lady asked a detailed question about road pricing. We have made it clear already that there will be no plans for that in this Parliament."

    Tuesday 17 May 2011

    britain" April inflation PS
  • The Dear George letters - BofE - "Letter from the Governor to the Chancellor".

    south More on new tolls
  • Politics Web - "Why the Gauteng tolls should be stopped - COSATU"   IT Web - "E-tolling may get toyi-toyi treatment"   Times Live - "Protest if tolls aren't reduced: FF Plus"   Times Live - "Gauteng toll fees an election issue"   Business Day - "Cosatu threatens toll roads strike".

    malaysia Surely a mistake?
  • Star - "Metramac tolls abolished seven years early".

    china Another report following Chinese TV exposé on tolls
  • Epoch Times - "Exorbitant Highway Tolls Hurt China’s Economy".

    canada usa More on War over who gets the border tolls
  • WXYZ - "A new bridge to Canada: sorting out fact from fiction" video.

    britain" April inflation report
  • Year on year the CPI is at 4.5%, and the wider RPI is at 5.2% - BBC - "UK inflation rate rises to 4.5% in April"   ONS - "Consumer price indices April 2011" pdf.
    What the ONS says about petrol and diesel inflation is a bit weird.
    They say on page 1 that "The main downward pressures to annual inflation came from petrol and diesel". Then on page 2 they say that "There was also an upward effect from fuels and lubricants where pump prices rose by 1.6 per cent to reach record levels of £1.34 for petrol and £1.41 for diesel.". And on page 4 we have that there "was a large downward contribution from petrol and diesel where prices rose by less than a year ago. A factor in this was the decrease in excise duty that influenced fuel prices in April 2011 whereas in April 2010 there was an increase in excise duty".
    The prime explanation for this difference is that the "upward effect" is just the monthly effect for April compared with March 2011, but the "downward" pressure and contribution is for a full 12 months.
    BUT this "downward" effect when you look at the actual figures is a bit of a mirage, as the implied fall in prices is merely that the 12.7 year on year increase in April is not quite as high as that in the preceding four months. That there really is inflation is confirmed by the AA fuel price reports UK averages for April 2010 - petrol 120.5 pence a litre and derv 121.6, and April 2011 - petrol 135.8 and derv 142.0.

    britain" More democracy, British style
  • BBC - "Elected House of Lords reform plans to be unveiled".
    Britain is unusual in having a hereditary head of state, and possibly unique in having a hereditary head of a nationalised church and an unelected second chamber. If Britons were really interested in democracy then they would have an elected head of state and would have neither the existing House of Lords nor the proposed sham elected chamber. It is a sham because two thirds of the members would be appointments (lasting 15 years).
    There is no need for a scond chamber, there are nearly 100 countries that have a unicameral system - Wikipedia.
    If we have to have a second chmaber, then it would be simpler to make it a "House of Vested Interests" with people nominated by various organisations who could scrutinise legislation before it had its Third Reading in the Commons and give their comments and suggestions to the Commons, but who could not alter or stop legaislation.
    If any Commons Bills were of a constitutional nature, then a Constitutional Court could decide whether it was such a Bill, and if so then what would have to happen before it became law - either a referendum would be held or the Act would need confirmation by the Commons following a General election.

    earth AGW
  • Yesterday we had the official leak about the Government following through with the target to massively reduce British man made CO2, the target is to be formally announced today - BBC - "Coalition to reveal long-term carbon target".

  • The April global temp figures were published by GISS yesterday, now we have the NOAA version - "April was seventh warmest on record".
    GISS had April as the joint 4th warmest globally since 1880. NOAA use virtually the same data (as does HADCRUT in Britain) but as is often the case they get a different answer.
    If you compare the NOAA data - (You have to select and download "The Monthly Global (land and ocean combined into an anomaly) Index (degrees C)" with GISS, the difference seems to be that GISS had 2010 as 0.77, 2007 as 0.68, 2005 as 0.61 and 2011 as 0.55, while NOAA have 2010 as 0.7827, 1998 as 0.7237, 2005 as 0.7027, 2007 as 0.6955, 2000 as 0.6206, 2009 as 0.6066 and 2011 as 0.5852. The three Aprils where they differ on whether they were warmer than 2011 or not, GISS had as 0.54 for 1998, 0.51 for 2000, and 0.50 for 2009. As the bodies collaborate on assembling the raw data and on the manipulation of it, why do they get different results? One part of the answer seems to be that the GISS are more prone to retrospectively adjusting past temperature figures to make them cooler.

    Monday 16 May 2011

    usa USA Roundup
  • Conservatives want assets, including roads, sold - Washington Post - "U.S. should sell assets like gold to get out of debt, conservative economists say" LOTS of comments.

  • Puffing the idea that America take the lead on cars that don't run on gasoline - Gas2 - "Why Can't America Make Alternative Fuels Work?".
    Nearly all these cars are foreign and many of the batteries rely on materials from China. So it would make more sense to scrap all the subsidies for electric car buyers, and let the market decide when and if (even with a tax on gasoline) electric cars are viable.

  • USA Today - "Drivers face more toll increases".

  • Bit more on big toll increases planned for Maryland - Baltimore Sun - "Maryland's era of cheap road tolls is over".
    The writer says "I must confess that I am part of the reason the Maryland Transportation Authority is considering a proposal to jack up tolls to dizzying heights.". The reason he gives is that the tolls are used to pay for non-toll roads that he uses. He might have added that his column and newspaper consistently back the tolls system, which is another resaon that the trolls may have decided that they can double and treble tolls, without causing a revolt.

  • Sundry stories - NJ / NY - "Commuters Feel Pinch as Christie Tightens"   "Private money might patch Minnesota's roads budget".

    south Bit more on new tolls
  • Fin24 - "Cosatu threatens toll protests".

    china Green China?
  • GPB - "Automakers Try To Convince Chinese To Drive Green".
    The Chinese authorities have twice failed to implement national decisions that road tolls be replaced with a gas tax. The chances of drivers being encouraged to do anything other than to try and avoid the tolls is zero.

    ireland Consolation
  • Even Irish Republicans may welcome a visit from Britain's ruler as some tolls may be lifted if congestion is bad - RTE - "State visit an extraordinary moment - McAleese".

    australia Tales from Oz
  • Sydney Morning Herald - "Sydney road congestion getting worse: NRMA survey"   Melbourne Herald - "Congestion charge on agenda in CBD".
    Last week there was some controversy as the Government (which like previous ones has a "Big" Australia policy) published its latest population strategy but this time without an explicit target number for immigration. A few people feel that there are already too many people and are concerned about congestion in the cities, but business interests are pushing the politicians for more immigration and for the retention of "baby bonuses" etc - NationalAaffairs - "Pollies are blind to the bigger picture".

    singapore Low down
  • Today Online - "S'pore 18th in that journey experience".
    This is the full results - Frost & Sullivan - "Journey Experience Index Ranks Copenhagen, Seattle & Sydney as Top 3 Cities with Highly Satisfied Commuters". There seems to be no positive correlation between the ranking and whther they have tolls. Jakarta's main roads are tolled biut it is bottom; Singapore with its "famous" ERP is 18th out of 23; New Yprk which rejected "congestion pricing" is just above London which has the "congestion charge".

    china Chinese TV does exposé on tolls
  • CriEnglish - "Keep Government Hands off Exorbitant Profits".

    earth AGW
  • It seems that the Green PM may have agreed to follow through with the target to massively reduce British man made CO2 - BBC - "Cameron intervenes to settle row over emissions targets"   Telegraph - "Business backlash as Britain set to take on ambitious carbon budget"   Observer (Sunday) - "A golden opportunity for Britain to lead the world in energy production".

  • The AGW acolytes at Westminster have just published this - BBC - "UK breaks promise on nuclear power subsidies, say MPs"   Parliament - ""Coalition should be up-front about nuclear subsidy" says Committee" inc lin to report.
    It is not clear from the report what the MPs are after as the people who want to stop the use of fossil fuels are usually also against nuclear power.
    As with almost all politicians they have the delusion that competition is always good, and are also suggesting that electricity generation is further fragmented. This is a dangerous idea, particularly when it come to nuclear power.

  • The April global temp figures have just been published - GISS - "GLOBAL Land-Ocean Temperature Index".
    As usual taking the figures at face value, April was 0.55 degrees Celsius warmer than what they say was the average for 1951 - 1980. This makes April 2011, according to them, the joint 4th warmest globally since 1880.

    earth Peacekeeping
  • More on wider bombing of Libya - BBC - "Fox supports call for intensified campaign".

    Sunday 15 May 2011

    usa USA Roundup
  • The President's weekly address yesterday was about oil. This is the spin on BBC - "Obama: US will seek oil in Alaska and Gulf of Mexico". But in fact the address was to a large extent about cutting "subsidies" to the oil companies - ABC News - "Ending Tax Subsidies for Oil Companies".
    The President's address followed a Senate hearing on Thursday at which oil company bosses were grilled. In their defence they said that the "subsidies" were only capital allowances against taxes and that those allowances were less than other industries got - NY Times - "A Big Whine From Big Oil"   Wall Street Journal - "Big 'Un-American' Oil".
    The oil companies are an easy and popular target, as the many billions that are being extorted from "British" Petroleum shows. But if the President really wanted to shift America from its reliance on oil, and particularly imported oil, then it would be better if he stopped the current campaign* to replace the gas tax with road tolls, and instead he proposed scrapping existing tolls and increasing the Federal gas tax.
    * The present camapign seems to have been coordinated by various interests including contractors and highways and transportation officials, with someone arranging for stories in various papers that say that the gas tax is going to soon run dry because cars are now driving on thin air.
    The next round of this campaign is apparently at a Finance Cttee hearing in the Senate this week, which will hear from advocates of tolls - Senate - "Financing 21st Century Infrastructure".

  • Have toll tag will travel - NY Post - "E-ZPass mail-ins take one more toll".

  • Another peek into the tolls gravy train - Plain Dealer - "Ohio Turnpike workers are paid 17% more than ODOT employees".

  • Another paper keen for its readers to pay tolls - Charlotte Observer - "HOT idea for I-77 toll lane deserves state OK".

  • Bit more on big toll increases planned for Maryland - Hometown Annapolis - "Higher tolls another burden on Marylanders"   Washington Examiner- "Md. officials propose drastic toll increases for bridges, tunnels".

  • Sundry stories - "Northeast Ohio transportation planners come out against leasing the Ohio Turnpike".

    nigeria Another story of unofficial tolls in Nigeria
  • Saturday Tribune - "Gridlock at Agbokojo as police extort road users".

    indonesia Jakarta jigsaw
  • Berita Jakarta - "Heavy Transport Contributes 70 Percent of Congestion on City Tolls".
    Jakarta drivers must be puzzled over the attempts to toll them and then toll them again, all in the name of reducing congestion.
    The city has 7 toll roads (all operated by the Indonesia Highway Corp) including the Inner Ring road and the Outer Ring road. Jakarta also has city politicians who seem to be desperate to introduce a congestion charge. Now they want to stop trucks from using certain toll roads as they are blamed for the congestion - though the alternative routes are also tolled!

    britain" A rare event
  • Yesterday there was an opportunity to walk through one of the two bores of the new Hindhead tunnel on the A3 road from London to Pompey - Daily Mail - "A once-in-a-lifetime walk through an engineering marvel: 7,000 join A3 tunnel trek before summer's grand opening"   BBC - "Thousands take part in Hindhead tunnel walk" video.
    We don't know whether it's more amazing that they spent 371 million pounds (about three days worth of taxes on drivers) improving a road or that they failed to toll it!

    earth Peacekeeping
  • Britain's generals wants wider bombing of Libya - BBC - "Libya: Nato 'must widen' targets, says UK military head".
    Presumably the aim is to make the Libyans suffer till they reach a point at which Gaddafi has to go and the NATO backed rebels take over. By coincidence there is also this story today - BBC - "David Cameron confirms military covenant 'law' plans".

    earth Pop
  • The Economist has a bit more on pop growth - "The world in 2100".
    The graph shows that by 2100 the population pyramid is more like a column of equal width. That is only true if the UN's prediction for a major fall in fertility turns out to be correct. The story also says that Africa's population is forecast by UN to rise from 1 billion to 3.6 billion; that is correct but at current fertility rates their forceast is that it would rise to 15 billion, though something catastrophic would happen before then.

  • LA Times - "Defusing the population bomb".
    The 2010 census has 9.818 million people living in LA County, which has a considerable number of freeways with reportedly the worst congestion in US; so they may hope that this bomb doesn't explode over the city!

    Saturday 14 May 2011

    usa USA Roundup
  • Yet another go at selling tolls to replace gas tax - USA Today - "Should drivers pay by the mile instead of the gallon?" LOTS of comments.
    As with the similar campaign in Britain, all these stories are not a coincldence, various interests will make a LOT of money if tolls replace gas taxes.

  • Bit more on big toll increases planned for Maryland - WUSA9 - "Tolls Could Double Or Triple For Some MD Tolls" video   Hometown Annapolis - "Bay Bridge toll could double by October"   Baltimore Sun - "There's a (thin) silver lining in bridge toll proposal" .

  • Sundry stories - "Northeast Ohio transportation planners come out against leasing the Ohio Turnpike"   Nevada - "Supporters press for Boulder City toll project".

    south Bit more on new tolls
  • IoL - "Dark days for motorists".

    london Possible Lib Dem candidate for Mayor wants more cons
  • Guardian - "A Liberal Democrat on how London should be run".

    nigeria Killed for not paying enough at unofficial toll
  • Saturday Tribune - "For Failing To Pay N200 Toll, Hoodlums Killed This Accounts Graduate-Turned Driver".

    earth AGW
  • On Tuesday we had a story "ExxonMobil ‘Linked to 9 of Top 10 Climate Skeptics’", someone checked on whether this was true - Popular Technology - "Are Skeptical Scientists funded by ExxonMobil?".

    Friday 13 May 2011

    usa USA Roundup
  • Two more goes at selling tolls to replace gas tax - National Geographic - "As Vehicle Efficiency Evolves, So Do Fuel Taxes"   Inc - "Will You Be Taxed for Driving?".

  • Big toll increases planned for Maryland - WTOP - "Traffic less than projected on InterCounty Connector"   Baltimore Sun - "GOP senator: Toll increases are 'highway robbery' "   Baltimore Sun - "Blame the ICC, failed leadership for massive toll increase"   Baltimore Sun - "Rising Maryland toll rates, possible E-ZPass discounts: Frugal Dilemmas"   Dagger Press - "If the Decal System for the U.S. 40 Hatem Bridge is Discontinued, Will You Alter Your Commute or Take a New Route?"   Washington Post - "Md. transportation officials propose steep toll hike on Bay Bridge, Baltimore Harbor crossings"   Cecil Whig - "State proposes $8 tolls by 2013 for Hatem, Tydings bridges"   ABC - "Cost of Maryland toll roads could double, even triple if board has their way" video   Baltimore Sun - "Toll expert: Increase is steep but overdue"   Baltimore Sun - "Senator blasts proposed toll increases"   Baltimore Sun - "MDOT chief: Toll increases are unavoidable"   Baltimore Sun - "Commuters would take hit under toll plan".

  • News Tribune publishes a reply to their attack on attempt to limit tolls in Washington State - "New initiative reinforces voter-approved I-1053 ".

  • Sundry stories - NY - "Audits under way reveal MTA discrepancies"   California - "Toll roads will take their toll"   DC / Va. - "County officials continue Metrorail financing debate".

    europe New European rules on fuel taxes
  • A month old, but we only just noticed it - Europa - "Energy taxation: Commission promotes energy efficiency and more environmental friendly products" press release   Europa - "Revision of the Energy Taxation Directive – Questions and Answers"   Europa - "Citizens' summary - EU energy taxation proposal" pdf.
    The aim is to implement the changes from the start of 2013. There would be two fuel taxes - "One would be based on CO2 emissions of the energy product and would be fixed at €20 per tonne of CO2. The other one would be based on energy content, i.e. on the actual energy that a product generates measured in Gigajoules (GJ). The minimum tax rate would be fixed at €9.6/GJ for motor fuels, and €0.15/GJ for heating fuels. This will apply to all fuels used for transport and heating." So though the apparent aim is to save the planet, roads users will (taking the two taxes together) pay about 50 times more than other users of fuel. (Though as Britain already has taxes on vehicle fuel that are higher then the proposed minimum rates, there will be no effect on British drivers.) There will also be exemptions from any tax for agriculture and for any industries that might otherwise relocate outide the EU.

    One interesting part of the proposed rules is that the actual tax on diesel would have to be the same as on petrol. Currently, Britain is the only country that doesn't tax diesel at a lot lower rate. If this is implemented then a large part of the advantage that continental truckers have will dissapear. This would also reduce the European demand for diesel, which currently exceeds the refining capacity, and so diesel prices at the pump in Britain might come down.

    wales Planner backs Cardiff Con
  • Wales Online - "Former top city planner backs Cardiff congestion charge idea".

    south Bit more on new tolls
  • ITWeb - "Still time for e-toll decision".

    britain" Campaign for Better Transport oppose new road - and toll
  • Cambridge News - "Widened A14 'would lead to future slums'".

    europe Europe goes electric with a BANG!
  • Independent - "Number of European electric vehicle chargers set to explode, says research".
    If it takes 6 hours to "fill up", then they are going to need a very large number of charging points and some very patient drivers.

    britain" Council says "sorry"
  • Clacton Gazette - "'Sorry we couldn't sort free ride'".
    If the new Deputy Leader of the Council was really sorry, he could have had a word with his Tory colleagues in Government.

    australia Tales from Oz
  • Blacktown Sun - "Toll cuts for events touted as solution to city gridlock".

    canada Tales from Canada
  • Tolls return to Montreal - Global Regina - "Laval-Montreal toll bridge A-25 set to open".

    britain" Snow report
  • Transport Cttee - "Greater investment required to minimise winter travel chaos say MPs " inc link to report.
    The MPs suggest that "the Highways Agency work with motoring organisations such as the AA and the RAC to launch a high profile publicity campaign about winter preparedness in autumn 2011". The AA and the Rac are basically insurance companies, the Government should not need them if it needs to communicate with Britain's 37 million licensed drivers.

    earth Peacekeeping
  • BBC - "Amnesty: Arab freedom struggle 'on knife edge'".
    The BBC story says "A fightback by repressive governments is putting at risk a historic struggle for freedom and justice in the Arab world .. It criticises Libya, Syria, Bahrain and Yemen." In fact the Amnesty International 2011 Report, does not even use the word "Arab" except as part of the name of a country. Neither does the report (which seems to have been written before America, Britain and France decided to use their firepower to help the rebels) cite Libya as worse than many other countries, including some of those who support the intervention.

    earth Pop
  • Another story on world pop growth escapes the blue pencil - The Economist - "...isn't destiny, one hopes - Good and bad news from the UN’s population projections".
    The writer says that "Some of these projections are incredible: they are warnings as much as predictions." There seems to be a misunderstanding, the UN is predicting an extra 3 billion people by 2100, (of whom 2.5 billion will be in Africa and 0.5 billion in the rest of the world). But that is not a pessimistic projection, it is the "medium" variant of three that are based on the assumption of substantially reduced fertility levels. If fertility was to remain the same as now, then the latest UN projection is that in 2100 there would be an extra 20 billion people (of whom 14 billion will be in Africa and 6 billion in the rest of the world). These population figures, indeed even if it is "only" 3 billion, are not sustainable. The question is what will happen to stop this growth?

  • "When our finite resources are on the downward slope, the hydrocarbon-fed population will be left far above its sustainable level – that is, far beyond the Earth’s carrying capacity. How we deal with this unsustainable surge in demand and not just “peak oil”, but “peak everything” is going to be the greatest challenge facing our species. But whether we rise to the occasion or not, there will be some great fortunes made along the way in finite resources and resource efficiency, and it would be sensible to participate." - City Wire - "Jeremy Grantham: world’s hunger for resources is game changer".
    Wise words. If the world is going to hell, then it would be prudent to grab as much as you can.

  • On how we must all (well, most of us) learn to be poor - BBC - "Rising resource use threatens future growth, warns UN"   United Nations Environment Programme- "Humanity Can and Must Do More with Less" inc links to full PR, report and slide show.

  • One of the rare reports on the problem of pop growth in Britain - Spectator - "The challenge of demographic change".
    It's good to see a British journalist who is aware that there is a problem, even though it is a delusion to believe that the Tory / Lib Dem Government have any real intention of doing anything about pop growth or immigration.

    Thursday 12 May 2011

    usa USA Roundup
  • Rhode Island Governor is gung-ho for tolls - Providence Journal - "State brushes off opposition to tolls"   Providence Journal - "Rhode Island DOT says it can pursue tolls".

  • Sundry stories - North Carolina - "HOV lanes will change to toll lanes on I-77"   Indiana - "Supporters urge Assembly to support Boulder City toll road to ease traffic congestion"   DC / Va. - "Supervisors Debate Opt-Out Option For Ballooning Rail Project"   DC - "Va. seeks control over Dulles rail project".

    britain" Engineer's view of electric cars
  • Leamington Observer - "High price in taxes to go electric" letter.

    south More on new tolls
  • ITWeb - "E-toll delay an election ploy?"   Business Day - "Gauteng tolls, fuel ‘could exceed small car’s repayments’".

    china The poor lot of Chinese truckers
  • CriEnglish - "Tolls Add Heavy Burden to Trucking Goods and Drivers".

    taiwan The other China tries to get people to use etolls to save the environment
  • Focus Taiwan - "ETC helps save environment: operator".
    If Governments were really interested in the environment, then they would finance roads through fuel taxes.

    britain" New front to open on War on Drivers
  • Telegraph - "£100 on-the-spot driving fines required 'because police have stopped addressing tailgaters'" lot of comments   Telegraph - "Speeding fines to soar".
    Drivers are an easy target. In the dying days of the Labour Government, a new £15 surcharge on drivers taken to court was introduced "to help victims of domestic violence or sex attacks". The loot from that may seem like small beer compared with these new fines. No doubt while drivers are milked, cyclists who go through red lights, ride on the pavements or go the wrong way up one-way streets will continue to enjoy immunity.

    earth Pop
  • One of the rare reports on the problem of pop growth - NPR - "Without Birth Control, Planet Doomed".
    (NPR is like a mini BBC radio, and perhaps slightly less susceptible to pressures - though the real BBC in Britain avoided mentioning the UN report.)

    Wednesday 11 May 2011

    britain" Latest from the Toy money bank
  • BBC - "Inflation report warns of impact from higher fuel bills"   BofE - "Inflation Report, May 2011".
    The job of a central bank should be to try and preserve the value of its currency. But Britain's Old Lady seems to think that money can go to hell / abroad and that its job is to prop up businesses and a Government (like the last one) who are incapable of otherwise encouraging true endeavour.

    usa USA Roundup
  • Another Washington State paper attacks attempt to limit tolls in - Spokesman Review - "Editorial: Bridge toll initiative is heading the wrong way".

  • KC Monitor - "The Gas Tax: Hard to Increase, Hard to Reduce".

  • Big Government - "Americans and Brits Love their Cars, Oppose High Speed Rail".

  • George's ex DoT Sec is still pushing tolls and fighting gas tax - Seattle Times - "Don't expect feds to save broken transportation system, former USDOT boss says".

  • Barack's DoT Sec is also a tolls fan, but seems to be a bit constrained - WPRI (Rhode Island) - "US DOT cool to Chafee's I-95 toll idea" video.

  • Sundry stories - Maine - "MTA boss vows 'fresh look' at York toll plans"   DC / Virginia - "Dulles Metrorail Construction Phase 2 Hits a Snag" video   DC / Virginia - "All Cars To Dulles Airport Might Pay Tolls" video   "Rules aim to tame Maine Turnpike spending"   Maine - "Turnpike head endorses strict standards".

    britain" Stupid or clever?
  • Scunthorpe Telegraph - "Businessman meets with officials to discuss Humber Bridge takeover bid".
    Writing off £250 million debt permanently and receiving no money up front for the rest of the debt, seems to be daft enough for the politicians to agree to. Or are they being clever? They would hand over control of a public bridge to their preferred private sector, the tolls will stay at one of the two most expensive in Britain for "roughly eight years", the tolls system is kept for ever, and they can do a Pontius Pilate and say that the tolls are nothing to do with them!

    south More on new tolls
  • Fin24 - "Budget money not enough to keep up roads".
    Apparently to pay for the roads "the fuel levy would have to increase from R2 to R3 per litre, which is not politically feasible against the background of the current high crude oil price.". (One Rand or 100 South African cents is about 15 US cents or 9 pence).
    One litre would cover about 10 to 15 kilometres for an average car, that's 6 to 10 cents a kilometre. Instead there are to be tolls at a rate of up to 66 cents a kilometre!

    britain" Tip of the iceberg
  • BBC - "Energy firm guilty of mis-selling to doorstep customers".
    There is really only one supply of electricity, gas, telecoms, and letter delivery. But Governments have created an illusion of competition by forcing the real provider of these services to sell them at a knock down price to spivs who are then able to resell them at a price that undercuts the real supplier.
    For what are naturally monopoly services, the control should be by proper regulation and not sham competion. This competition confuses consumers and either wastes their time sifting through the lies of the spivs, or they give up and stick to the one supplier and possibly get overcharged because of the lack of proper regulation. The odd thing is that the politicians who created this paradise for spivs, left water alone. Perhaps that was too important?

    Tuesday 10 May 2011

    usa USA Roundup
  • News Tribune trolls attack attempt to limit tolls in Washington State - "Eyman's latest is rehash of old ideas – save one".

  • Sundry stories - Texas - "Toll road fees take effect Wednesday"   South Carolina - "Tolls proposed for I-95 and I-85, lawmaker outraged" video   DC - "Tolls could be coming to Dulles Access Road"   NJ - "Plan to tax electric vehicles shows shocking lack of sense"   DC / Maryland - "ICC traffic increasing slightly; ad campaign trying to lure more"   Texas / Mexico - "Mission and McAllen Mayors Recommend Higher Bridge Tolls".

    australia Tales from Oz
  • NineMSN - "Vic govt refuses to rule out toll road".
  • Queensland Government buy toll roads from themselves - Sydney Morning Herald - "Qld Motorways transferred in $3bn deal". This strange deal seems as if it must be a scam with the sale counting as income, but with the purchase off the balance sheet.

    canada Tales from Canada
  • Star (Toronto) - "Three steps to ending gridlock".

    britain" Protection for politicians
  • The Press Complaints Commission rule that the papers can't try and find out whether politicians really mean what they say in public - BBC - "Daily Telegraph's Lib Dem MP 'sting' criticised".

    earth Pop
  • Manila Bulletin - "Positive dimensions of population growth".
    (This may have been written to cancel out the effect of a recent warning about poverty - Inquirer - "Growth has not eased Philippine poverty, UN study says".)
    Professor Villegas is an accountant and economist who is involved with numerous Filipino and international buisnesses. He seems to have been born about 1940 when the population was 16.4 million (according to populstat). It is now about 101 million, despite large scale emigration. What figure does the professor think is a good target for businesses to aim for in another 70 years?

    earth AGW
  • One of the AGW tenets is that variation in Solar activity has a negligible effect on the Earth's temperature. Some new research suggests that they may be wrong - Watts Up - "New solar reconstruction paper suggests 6x greater solar forcing change than cited by the IPCC".

  • More nonsense from the Government - Telegraph - "Climate change 'could disrupt wi-fi and hit power supply'".

  • Environmental Leader - "ExxonMobil ‘Linked to 9 of Top 10 Climate Skeptics’".
    The reality is that almost all research funding goes to projects that set out to prove that there is warming, that it is man made and that it has a million and one adverse effects.

    Monday 9 May 2011

    earth More AGW
  • BBC - "Renewables can fuel society, say world climate advisers".
    Pigs may also be able to fly, given enough faith.
    The BBC quotes from the co-chair of this IPCC report, who is a Professor of the "Economics of Climate Change" and who apparently influenced Lord Stern. The professor's CV says that at one time he was a journalist and before that he was in the Jesuit Order, with which one source says he is still connected. The Jesuits are very strong believers in "Climate change" which they say is killing 300,000 people a year. Some idea of their views on the evil of CO2 and the irrelevance of population growth can be seen at - EcoJesuit.

    czech Czechs considering more tolls (for trucks)
  • Czech Position - "For whom the toll falls".

    south More on new tolls
  • Business Live - "Will government sneak toll fees through?".

    britain" Toll pushing from legal adviser to trolls
  • Construction News - "Highways Agency review may not be enough to improve the UK's motorways".

    usa USA Roundup
  • Last Thursday and Monday we had a story about the White House releasing a draft Bill to introduce LOTS more tolls on the Interstates and generally. The story did not get a great deal of coverage in the news media, but where it was reported there was a negative response. So perhaps it is no surprise that there was a denial issued on behalf of the President - "This is not an administration proposal. This was an early working draft proposal that was never formally circulated within the administration, does not taken into account the advice of the president’s senior advisers, economic team or Cabinet officials, and does not represent the views of the president.".

    Here is a sample of the reports that did get into the news media -
    The Hill 5th - "Obama administration floats draft plan to tax cars by the mile" OVER 3,000 comments!   Examiner 5th - "Obama to look at taxing cars by the mile in new transportation bill draft"   MSNBC 5th - "Pay per mile: A timely tax idea, or a privacy threat?"   American Thinker 5th - "What free country? Obama wants to track your car mileage"   Daily Mail (UK) 5th - "Obama administration floats plans for per-mile car tax"   Turnto10 6th - "Feds propose tax on drivers" video & comments   Mother Nature 6th - "Road taxes: Gas cars pay them, why not electric vehicles?".

    Thanks again to Brian who has pointed out this link to an earlier version of this story on the Hill - 24th March - "CBO: Taxing mileage a 'practical option' for revenue enhancement" over 1,000 comments and to the CBO report issued in March - 24th March - "Alternative Approaches to Funding Highways" pdf.
    The CBO report claims that tolls don't hurt the "less well off" and "low-income people" as much as gasoline taxes do. They also say that tolls "significantly .. address fuel related costs .. (greenhouse gas emissions, dependence on foreign oil, and local air pollution from trucks)". They don't however confirm that fairies do exist and that the Moon is made of cheese after all!

  • Sundry stories - Georgia - "Public-private toll project nears bidding"   Nebraska / Colorado - "Almost 13K Neb. to get statements for Denver tolls".

    poland Poland proposes to toll main roads
  • Warsaw Voice - "Driving Along Polish Roads Will Get More Expensive".

    india Complaint about Indian toll pandemic
  • Times of India - "Corrections needed in toll collection: Activists".

    britain" Can it take the strain?
  • It is suggested that the price of fuel has caused an increase in rail travel - BBC - "Rail passengers make 5% more journeys".
    The number of rail journeys in the year to March according to ATOC was 1.34bn. That sounds impressive, but is the equivalent of every person (inc children) in Britain making 10.7 return journies a year. And if there was a really significant switch from road to rail, then how could the railways cope? And could the Government afford to continue to subsidise trains while the loot that they take from roads users was falling?

    britain" The least ungreen option?
  • BBC - "Nuclear 'cheapest low-carbon option' for UK energy".
    Britain once led the world on nuclear power, but because of the greens, our energy needs are largely met from imported fuel and energy. (Due to the destuction of much of British industry, those energy needs are less than they would have been despite the massive increase in population.) Some greens now support nuclear power as the best way of fighting the evil CO2, but whatever is decided on that Britain will have more expensive electricity than we could have had.

    earth AGW
  • Scripps - "Vatican Science Panel Calls Attention to the Threat of Glacial Melt"   Ramanathan - "Fate of Mountain Glaciers in the Anthropocene" pdf. ("Anthropocene" is a recently coined word which refers to the period where man has affected the Earth, and particularly the atmosphere. It originally was said to start about 200 years ago, but its start date has been pushed back almost as far as the start of the current Holocene interglacial which was about 12 thousand years ago.)
    They say that "We are committed to ensuring that all inhabitants of this planet receive their daily bread, fresh air to breathe and clean water to drink." Though apparently it does not matter how many extra mouths there will be needing these things.
    They are also concerned about the "life of people dependent upon glaciers and snow packs for water supplies". As we are in an interglacial the trend will be for glaciers to slowly melt until we are in the second half of the interglacial when the glaciers should start to grow again (though increased CO2 may delay this). So do they believe that water comes from the glaciers when they are refreezing, rather than when they are melting?
    The "scientific" paper does not mention the Holocene, but it has one mention of interglacial - "It is particularly worrying that this release of global warming agents is occurring during an interglacial period when the Earth was already at a natural temperature maximum.". The truth is that we are currently still in the Pliocene-Quaternary glaciation / Ice Age which started about 2.5 million years ago and strangely enough, the temperatures are lower now than they were before this Ice Age started - which is why we still have glaciers.

    earth Pop
  • Claimed quote by Peter Scott, the naturalist who designed the WWF panda logo and died in 1989 - "You know, when we started the World Wildlife Fund its objective was to save endangered species from extinction, and I am now near the end of my career and we have failed completely. We haven't saved a single endangered species. And if we'd put all that money we had collected into condoms, we might have done some good." - ABC Science Show transcript.

    Sunday 8 May 2011

    usa USA Roundup
  • Sundry stories - Connecticut - "Diverted money could have paid for road projects"   DC / Va. - "The risk of relying on higher Dulles Toll Road revenue"   NJ / Pa. - "Toll hike looms, discount to end"   NJ - "Police cracking down on Atlantic City Expressway toll evaders"   Washington State - "Eyman seeks signatures to restrict tolling in state".
    NJ / Pa. - "Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission needs to focus its spending"   "Indiana Toll Road tolls will go up July 1"   Maine - "Bill aims for more turnpike oversight"   Maine - "Turnpike officials’ arrogance drove probe of MTA practices"   N Carolina - "Big jump in Chesapeake Expressway tolls coming" video.

    canada usa More on War of Words
    In the battle to keep the private toll monopoly between Canada and Michigan, it has emerged that the trolls are able to sell gas without paying tax to Canada or USA - Windsor Star - "Border file Business at the bridge".

    costarica More trouble on "Sunset" Boulevard
  • Inside Costa Rica - "Residents Promise Blockades and Protest Of Revival Of Piedades Tolls On San José - Caldera".

    britain" Tooothless tiger in the tank
  • BBC - "Fuel protesters' Ellesmere Port oil blockade bid".
    The last and only "successful" protest was in September 2000, and it nearly brought Britain to its knees, because it had the Tories, Lib Dems, right wing press and Police behind it, as they wanted to bash the Labour Government. The right wing are now the Government, and the Police are unlikely to collaborate with protestors again, so the chances of this protest having much effect is zero.

    britain" Electric robots without brains
  • The Government seems to be falling behind with its plan to have this year nearly 5,000 points for charging electric cars - BBC - "Electric car charging points 'shortfall'".
    According to the Chargemaster site there is an annual admin fee of £50 per car, but the Government is paying all the capital costs of the scheme and is providing the electricity free to drivers. No doubt the politicians will at some "point" say that they need to have a system of road tolls to pay for all this!
    But with or without road tolls, electric cars are a non starter. So are the politicians, the robots without brains? Or are the robots without brains, the drivers who vote in the politicians?

    earth Peacekeeping
  • BBC - "Libya: RAF Tornados destroy Libyan missile launchers".
    After seven weeks of NATO's bombing and missile attacks, it seems that NATO has discovered that the Libyan Government has rockets. These weapons are Scuds (type B) and Frog 7s (which is NATO name for a 9K52 Luna-M). Both missile types are about fifty year old and have an "accuracy" of about a third of a mile. The missiles are almost useless for attacking the rebels. They could have been used for indiscriminate attacks on a city or large town, but where is the evidence that the Libyan government has or intended to launch such attacks? Indeed the only rockets that have been seen to be fired are those launched by NATO and the rebels (who's rockets probably all landed in the desert).

    earth AGW
  • The Sun only a year ago came out of an unusually long Solar minimum, and the last NASA prediction was for a relatively low "smoothed sunspot number maximum of about 62 in July of 2013". In recent weeks we were already at that level of sunspots and we would therefore expect to have a higher number of sunspots when the maximum is reached. It is now being suggested that instead we may be in an exceptionaly short cycle - Watts Up - "Solar Max – So Soon?".

    Saturday 7 May 2011

    britain" chimaera RAC Foundation still selling road pricing corpse
  • The Foundation published this on Wednesday, (thanks to Brian for drawing it to our attention) - "The Acceptability of Road Pricing" pdf.
    They must be congratulated on the cover picture, which is of the Dartford Crossing tolls - they managed to find a picture where there is not a mile long queue of traffic at the toll barriers!

    The Foreword says "This paper reviews global experience of paying for roads as you use them and reports that it is commonplace across much of the developed world. It is technically successful; meets objectives ranging from managing congestion to raising revenue to fund road improvement; need not be prohibitively costly; and once in place, tends to gain public acceptance."
    The reality is the opposite of what is suggested - 99 per cent of the roads in most countries (insuding the USA) do not bear a charge as you use them (apart from any indirect charge through fuel taxes); tolls are a most inefficient way of raising revenue; and they are more unpopular than AV!

    The report claims that the people of Edinburgh and Manchester only voted against "road pricing" because they did "not understand" it. So in what way could the ignorant voters be educated so that they will ever agree to tolls? The reality is that tolls only work where ordinary people are given no choice whether tolls are introduced, and given no way of avoiding them when they are introduced.

    Various countries are listed as models for road pricing. But in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, the only distance tolls are on trucks using the through routes. Their main aim is to tax foreign lorries going through central Europe.
    Another country given as an example is the Netherlands, even though they do not have a tolls system!

    germany More on the Greens go to war on cars
  • The Local - "Greens to limit autobahn speed and replace car tax with road toll".
    Baden-Württemberg has 11 million people, but it is not clear how their autobahns could have a different system from the roads where the other 70 million Germans live.

    britain" The ultimate "green" car and only a million dollars
  • BBC - "Jaguar to build £700,000 hybrid supercar with Williams".

    britain" Democracy - British version on Thursday
  • Telegraph - "Local Elections".
    # There were local elections for nearly all English councils, (one of the areas where there was no vote was London). In most areas only one third of the Council seats were up for grabs, which as usual limited the extent to which Councils might change hands. Labour had a gain of about 800 Council seats, though most of the media reported the election as a victory for the Tories who gained 81 seats when it would have been expected that as the party in power the electors would give them a kick.
    The main reason that the Tories did well was that the Lib Dems did very badly - losing 695 seats. Also doing badly were most of the small parties and independents who between them lost 201 seats (the only small party that gained seats were the Greens!). So the Tories and Labour would have won a lot of seats by default and without getting any more votes than when these seats were last contested three or four years ago.

    # The Scottish Parliament for the first time has a party with an overall majority - the SNP. Various reasons have been suggested for this.
    One reason which is not mentioned is the abolition of tolls - which the SNP gave as one of their achievements during their four years in office - and which was a policy that cost them almost nothing to implement. Perhaps more important is that the SNP might not have had an opporunity to govern if it had not been for the tolls issue four years ago. Labour went into the 2007 election backing tolls and ended up with one seat less than the SNP. It is all a bizarre result as Gordon Brown at one time had been an opponent of tolls.
    As Scotland "has" PR, the impression is that as the SNP have a majority they must have got at least half of the popular vote. That is not so. There are 57 varieties of PR, and none of them are absolutely fair. So in Scotland the SNP have got 53.5 per cent of the seats but only got 45.4 per cent of the constituency vote (which is for 73 seats on a first past the post system) and 44.0 per cent of the regional vote (which uses PR on multi member regions).

    # In Wales, Labour improved their position in the Assembly, where they now have half the seats. Tolls have never been an issue in Wales as none of the parties have ever lifted a finger to try and get rid of them.

    # The elections in Northern Ireland are a joke, with the full results still not known, due to their system which is based on the use of Single Transferrable Vote with multi member constituencies (18, each of which has 6 members).

    # As expected the "Alternative Vote" proposed for the UK Parliament was kicked into touch by the voters, 6,152,607 voted Yes and 13,013,123 voted No - BBC - "UK rejects alternative vote".
    The "No" campaigners said that this was a vote for the current "First past the post" sytem. This was another lie from the Noes - the vote was on whether people wanted AV, not on what they thought of the existing system. The AV system would in no way have made the voting system fairer and would have made the counting of votes far more difficult. The only party that might have expected to gain were the Lib Dems, who would probably have got a few more seats.
    The AV referendum was in effect a scam thought up by the Coalition parties to placate the gullible rank and file Lib Dems. David Cameron, and possibly Nick Clegg, would have realised that the electorate was unlikely to accept this strange beast but that if they did, then it would have given the illusion of greater democracy while making almost no difference at all.

    earth AGW
  • Though the recent deep solar minimum is definitely over, a recent paper suggests that we will experience a very deep one about the middle of this century - European Institute for Climate and Energy (German sceptics) - "Arctic Environment By The Middle Of This Century" pdf.

    Friday 6 May 2011

    usa USA Roundup
  • Peddling tolls in Salt Lake City - Deseret News - "Funding transportation".

  • - "Off-peak discounts do little for traffic".

  • Kookie ways of attempting to reduce congestion in San Fran. - NY Times - "Want to Add to Congestion? Then It’s Going to Cost You"   Bay Citizen - "Clog the Streets, Pay a Premium".

  • Sundry stories - North Carolina- "Big jump in Chesapeake Expressway tolls coming"   NJ / Penn. - "Northampton County Votes To End Toll Bridge Commission"   NJ / Pa. - "N.J. legislator wants to get rid of Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission"   NJ / Pa. - "They are bridges over a past of troubled waters"   NJ / Pa. - "Toll hike seems at opposition to Corbett's policy".
    Cal. - "Tolls on Orange County road may be extended another 6 years"   Land Line Mag - "Washington state Legislature OKs toll bills"   Penn. - "Scrap I-80 toll plan, congressmen urge"   Ohio - "Trustees see dire consequences if turnpike leased".

    australia More proof (as well as having AV) that the Aussies are mad
  • Herald Sun - "Push to clamp down on Melbourne's motorists".
    The trams are getting slower - so they plan to build more tram lines. And no one uses the bike scheme so they are to be somehow persuaded perhaps (as in London), they could have the illusion that the scheme works by shifting the bikes round in the back of a van!

    earth More AGW
  • More nonsense, though it is not clear whether the fault is the scientists or the way that the BBC spins it - BBC - "Climate shifts 'hit global wheat yields'".
    If, as claimed, the yields of wheat, maize and corn have been significantly and adversely affected by global warming over the last 30 years, it is a bit strange that over the period 1980 to 2010 the World population increased from 4,453 million to 6,852 million. Or are the extra 2.4 billion people all eating (flourless) cake or living on (warm) thin air?

  • Another coat of whitewash from the Government - BBC - "Climate e-mail reviews 'leave science sound'".

    earth Oil
  • Commodity prices have fallen - BBC - "Commodity prices stage recovery in Asia after falls".
    In our view commodity prices, including oil, have only one way to go in the medium and long term and that is up and up.

    earth Pop
  • The British news media all ignored the latest UN population forecasts, with the exception of the Economist - "Growing pains".

  • The Economist also had this on the recent Chinese census results - "The most surprising demographic crisis".
    This story is further proof that the World and economists are mad. China is one of the world's biggest consumers of many resources and has major pollution problems. More people would have added to China's and the World's problems.
    Not that the "one child policy" has been achieved. The policy was introduced in 1978, and since then the population has grown by 380 million, because it was about 15 years before the actual fertility rate dropped below 2.0 and even now it is 1.5, i.e. 50 per cent above the target.

    earth AGW
  • The Met Office have just issued their - Climate summary for April. They say that April "was 3.7 °C above the 1971–2000 average" and was the warmest on record.

  • The greens are not worried about population growth, it is just another reason for them to spread the "climate change" gospel - Treehugger - "10 Billion Reasons Climate Should Be Our Top Priority".

    earth Peacekeeping
  • Britain and other NATO countries are to openly fund the Libyan rebels - BBC - "Libya: Contact group creates fund for rebels".

    Thursday 5 May 2011

    ireland No tolls, only profits
  • Despite a boycott, the trolls are not worried as the Irish Government has generously guaranteed their income - Limerick Post - "Trucks boycott Limerick tunnel".

    britain" The electric fantasy for greens, politicians and celebs
  • Telegraph - "Electric cars: zero emissions and zero charm".

    indonesia Big Blue vulture after a bit of any Jakarta Con
  • Berita Jakarta - "Reduce Traffic Jam, IBM Offers Three Ideas".

    canada Toll tales from Canada
  • Reassurance on the ex toll bridge debt - Telegraph-Journal - "Bridge debt will vanish: Weston".

    britain" No surprise
  • Interest rates remain at almost nothing - BBC - "UK interest rates kept on hold at 0.5%"   BofE - "Bank of England maintains Bank Rate at 0.5% and the size of the Asset Purchase Programme at £200 billion".
    When Gordon Brown delegated the fixing of the Bank Rate to the Old Lady, the idea seemed to be that the Bank would use the power to keep inflation at bay, whereas future Chancellors might have been tempted to ignore inflation in order to keep businesses happy. But what we have now is a system where the Bank does exactly what the Government and the establishment want, i.e. we have high inflation so that wages and pensions are cut in real terms and low interest rates so that firms and individuals can borrow on the cheap.
    It is difficult to see how the situation is ever going to change, and it is a waste of time the MPC going through the farce of "making" a decision each month.

    usa USA Roundup
  • Moving house subsidies - Fast Company - "Would $12,000 Convince You To Move Closer To Work?".

  • North Carolina is to stop using the gas tax to fund things other than the roads - Lincoln Tribune - "Time for State Highway Fund to hit reverse".

  • A bit more on the item that we had on Monday about "Obama Administration Wants Per-Mile Tax and Freeway Tolls" - The President seems to have been persuaded, by the trolls and those who want to sell more gasoline, to move away from gas taxes towards a plan to toll most roads and in particular the Interstates that up to now united the country.
    Analysis by BNA of "The "Transportation Opportunities Act" (pdf) (The Bill is not yet an "Act").
    # Section 2217 of the Bill is on Tolling and per the BNA analysis "permits State and local governments to impose tolls on existing Interstate and non-Interstate facilities for the purposes of improving or reducing congestion in metropolitan areas with populations over 1 million people" and "permits States and local governments to impose tolls for the purpose to initially construct Interstate facilities if the facility could not otherwise be constructed without the collection of tolls".
    # Section 2218 authorises a trial of "mileage-based user fee systems".
    Some of the news coverage - Trucking Info - "White House Releases Partial Highway Reauthorization Draft"   Truth about cars - ""Transportation Opportunity Act" Moves Towards Freeeway Tolls, Pay-Per-Mile" (same as the story but with comments).

  • Sundry stories - Florida - "Customer service nightmare with SunPass over unwanted tolls"   Pennsylvania - "Congressmen speak out against I-80 tolls"   NJ / Pa. - "N.J. legislator wants to get rid of Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission"   NJ / Pa. - "What's behind the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission's sudden toll increase plan?"   NJ / Pa. - "Toll bridge hike too taxing"   NJ - "E-ZPass discounts could take exit ramp by July".
    DC / Virginia - "Rates could jump on Dulles Toll Road"   DC / Virginia - "Dulles tolls to rise to pay for rail construction"   Louisiana - "Commentary: Crescent City Connection Dysfunction Needs Legislative Action"   California - "Bridge bond deal gone bad costs MTC $120 million".

    london Bit more on No to a new crossing
  • Thurrock Gazette - "Big meeting planned over second crossing".

    wales More on call for Cardiff Con
  • Wales Online - "Online spat over Cardiff congestion charge idea"   Wales Online - "Widespread opposition to congestion charge proposed for Cardiff"   BBC - "Cardiff Civic Society in congestion charge plan".

    britain" Alternative finance
  • Guardian - "Alternative finance models to PFI".
    The idea seems to be to transfer the risk away from the financer. There are at least two problems.
    One is that PFI is a scam designed to keep expenditure out of the public sector books. The accounting rules were changed in 2009 to bring PFI onto the books, but the UK Government managed to wriggle out of compliance. If the private sector is not carrying the risk, then it will be even more difficult for the Government to use the scam for new schemes.
    Another problem is that if the infrastructure is a tolled road, then there is an implication that if the road is a financial failure then a regulator would allow the tolls to be raised. But in the case of the M6 Toll road there is no regulator or other control over what the company charges and it is still losing money. Or is the idea that there will be public subsidies to ensure that there are profits even if no one uses the road?

    britain" Hobson's Choice
  • There are "national" elections today in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and local elections in some parts of England. There is also a referendum on the "Alternative Vote" - BBC - "Vote 2011: Public going to the polls across UK".
    In practice there is little difference between the main parties; if we had proportional representation then we might see people elected who reflected what people believed in. AV is not PR and is designed to boost the Lib Dems while keeping UKIP and similar parties out of Parliament.
    The referendum will in any case be biased twoards the views of the Scots, Welsh and Irish who are more likely to vote, as they are having their national elections at the same time. One thing you will never see is a referendum on whether England should also have its own assembly and administration.

    earth AGW
  • The BBC published this on Tuesday, though the Met Office have not yet issued their monthly summary - "Heatwave sees warmest UK April for more than 100 years".

    Wednesday 4 May 2011

    wales Call for Cardiff Con
  • Wales Online - "Calls for a car-free city centre and Cardiff congestion zone".

    indonesia More on Jakarta Con
  • Yesterday we said that it looked as if local politicians had got the Government to agree to a Con, it now seems that little of significance is happening - Jakarta Globe - "Obstacles Remain in Way of Jakarta ERP Scheme".

    earth Pop
  • The UN Population Division have issued their latest pop estimates, which give a slightly higher rate of growth than their previous forecast (though they are still assuming that future fertility rates will be far lower than what has actually been experienced in recent decades) - UN - "World Population to reach 10 billion by 2100 if Fertility in all Countries Converges to Replacement Level" pdf   UN - "Press conference with Hania Zlotnik" video of press conference.
    There is a tool for giving pop figures from 1950 to 2100 based on different variants (medium, high, low and constant fertility) and for individual countries, regions and Earth as a whole - updated UN population data tables. According to the data, if current fertility rates do not fall, as the UN expect, but stay the same as now, then by 2100 the latest UN population forecast is 26.8 billion.
    As you can see from the empty press conference, few of the press have shown any interest and one of the few news reports is on Australia's ABC - "Population boom increasing global food crisis".
    The UN seems to be more concerned with "low fertility" in some countries, than with their median estimate that there will be another 3.1 billion people in 89 years time. To put that in context that growth is equal to the whole of the Earth's population in 1961.

    earth AGW
  • The scientists and the BBC seem to be puzzled why there were once insects in the Arctic that are believed to only survive in warm climates - BBC - "Giant ants spread in warm climes".
    Their education seems to have excluded the fact that we are currently in an Ice Age, and though it is a relatively warm interglacial that we are in, for 80 per cent of Earth's history it has been warmer than now. Though they do say "The Eocene, 56-34 million years ago, was punctuated by periods when the Earth's temperature rose higher than it is today, probably because of the release of greenhouse gases such as methane into the atmosphere." The use of the word "punctuated" seems to be intended to deceive people into thinking that these warm temperatures were abnornmal and caused by "greenhouse gases". Gases that apparently came, and went, long before the Homo genus developed 2.5 million years ago - which is about the same time that the current Ice Age started!

    Tuesday 3 May 2011

    usa USA Roundup
  • Trouble in the coming toll state - King5 (Washington State) - "Delayed tolling erodes state agency's credibility" video.

  • Sundry stories - NJ / Pa. - "Toll hikes approved for 7 Delaware River bridges"   NJ / Pa. - "Tolls to increase on Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission spans" comments   DC / Virginia - "Reston latest to question Dulles Metro costs"   Land Line Mag - "Indiana lawmakers approve tolling authority bill"   Louisiana - "For Whom the Bridge Tolls".

    europe EU issues voluntary code for those tracking people and cars
  • Fresh Business Thinking - "Commission Guidelines On The Use Of RFID Tags".

    south Bit more on new tolls
  • EyeWitnessNews - "E-toll decision next week".
    Given the corruption there is no chance of the tolls not going ahead. The most likely outcome is some reduction in the toll rates. The only thing uncertain is to what extent people will meekly accept the new system.

    indonesia More on Jakarta Con
  • It looks as if the local politicians have somehow got the reluctant Government to agree to a Con - Berita Jakarta - "President to Sign PP ERP".

    earth Pop
  • Prediction of continuing commodity inflation - Market Watch - "Super Rich love to bet on commodity inflation".
    If the rich are using their influence over Governments and Central Banks to ensure that they have a supply of cheap money to invest in commodities, then it is difficult to see what would break the price spiral. The unexpected will happen, but the rich can can still rely on population growth to make oil and other resources increasingly scarce.

    Monday 2 May 2011

    usa USA Roundup
  • - "Obama Administration Wants Per-Mile Tax and Freeway Tolls".

  • Cape Cod Times - "Charging entry to the Cape not in the spirit of America" letter.

  • New lottery - Mercury News - "California bridge toll contest launches online".

  • Propaganda against roads and for tolls - National Journal - "Do We Need More Highways?" and "Toll-financed highways could be provided".

  • Electoral campaigner in fresh attempt to control new tolls - Seattle Pi - "Eyman's new initiative: Make lawmakers set tolls".

  • Sundry stories - "NY Republican State Senators Trying To Revive East River Bridge Tolls"   Washington State - "'Gregoire should know better' says environmental attorney David Bricklin on tunnel legal process"   Georgia - "A proposed toll road for west metro Atlanta surfaces"   Louisiana - "There's no good reason to renew the Crescent City Connection toll: An editorial"   DC / Virginia - "Dulles Toll Road Users File Lawsuit Claiming Taxation Without Representation".

    scotland Latest twist in the Scottish Government's folly
  • BBC - "Bridge bus lane plans shot down".
    There seems to be no need for a new bridge and certainly not at the criminally high price that is to be paid. Bizarrely this new white elephant was dreamed up by the trolls, presumably to try and justify keeping tolls.

    costarica More trouble
  • Inside Costa Rica - "Atenas Residents Blockade San José - Caldera on Saturday".

    london Guardian review of the Mayor's transport policies
  • "Three years of Boris: Mayor Johnson's record on transport".

    earth Peacekeeping
  • American forces have attacked a compound near the Pakistani capital and killed the man who was said to have been behind the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington - CNN - "U.S. forces kill elusive terror figure Osama bin Laden in Pakistan"   BBC - "Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden dead - Barack Obama".
    Getting bin Laden was apparently the motive for the invasion of Afghanistan, but his death in Pakistan will probably make no difference to the Allied forces who support the current Afghan Government.
    It is rarely mentioned but bin Laden was originally one of the leaders of the non Afghan Mujahideen who were fighting in the CIA supported operation against the Afghan Communist Government and the Russian forces who supported the Afghan Government. It has also been suggested that he was involved in a CIA operation to break up Yugoslavia, but then fell out with the Americans because he also opposed the rulers of Saudi Arabia. It is also rarely mentioned that "Al-Qaeda" means the "base" and referred to the training camps in Pakistan for Mujahideen that were to go into Afghanistan to attack the Communists and Russians.
    PS Bin Laden's father is said to have been a Yemeni who started out as a labourer and later started a business which built 80 percent of Saudi's roads - all untolled.

  • Britain has asked the Libyan ambassador to leave. Field Marshal Hague says "The Vienna Convention requires the Gaddafi regime to protect diplomatic missions .. By failing to do so that regime has once again breached its international responsibilities and obligations. I take the failure to protect such premises very seriously indeed." - BBC - "Libya crisis: UN leaves Tripoli amid mob attacks".
    Apparently no one thinks it strange that the Libyans had an embassy here and the UN had a manned office in Libya, while we were in effect at war.

    Sunday 1 May 2011

    britain" More disinformation about Immigration
  • BBC - "Eastern European migrants 'add £5bn' to Britain's GDP".
    The NIESR report that claims immigration from eastern Europe has been a benefit is not on their site, but the BBC story says that 1.5 million came here between 2004 and 2009, of whom 700,000 stayed. That indicates that there would have been an average of about one million people here during the five years. The population of the UK in 2004 was about 59.7 million, so if immigrants were to incerease the GDP per head then they would have had to increase the GDP by about 1.7 per cent. According to the story they only increased GDP by about 0.38 per cent, so on average people became less well off. Even if immigrants had made an average contribution to GDP, many of those who were already living here would still have been worse off as many parts of Britain would have become more crowded, congested and expensive to live in.

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