March 2017

Harry Harperson’s a vile one

The Labour MP Harriet Harman has introduced a proposed law change that would prevent rape complainants from being quizzed in court about their sexual history, saying the move was needed in the wake of the acquittal of the footballer Ched Evans.

Evans won his appeal last year in a case that centred on evidence from two other men who testified about the complainant’s sexual preferences and the language she used during sex.

A law change in 1999 had barred such court tactics, but permitted defence lawyers to apply to introduce a complainant’s previous sexual history under certain circumstances. The Evans case prompted significant disquiet about how this clause could be used. Harman has tabled an amendment to the government’s prisons and courts bill, which reaches the committee stage in the Commons next week, to remove the exception.

The idea of introducing a complainant’s sexual history into a rape trial had “no evidential value” and was deeply outdated, Harman said. “It’s based on the old notion that there were two sorts of women – those who were ‘easy’ and those who were virtuous – and if you were easy, you would have sex with anybody, because you were that sort of woman,” she said. “What you have to look at is the evidence and the information around that encounter, not any previous sexual encounters.”

But the sexual history had great evidential value here, which is exactly why you’re trying to ban it of course.


Theresa May is expected to announce within weeks that the UK will reclaim its waters for British fishermen by pulling out of a deal that pre-dates the EU.

The Prime Minister will take Britain out of the 1964 London convention which allows European fishing vessels to access waters six to twelve nautical miles from British shores.

No so much because of this specific thing, but because it means we’re going to kill the Common Fisheries Policy.

That CFP which is among the most idiot things the EU has come up with, right up there with the euro.

No, a nuclear power plant has not contracted smallpox

An Indian nuclear power plant has contracted what is being described as smallpox in a bizarre disease outbreak.
The Kakrapar Nuclear Power Plant in Gujarat has been shut down as officials attempt to work out what is corroding leaking pipes inside the complex.
Experts have said the pipes, which are made from a rare alloy, have contracted a smallpox-like virus which is spreading throughout two Indian Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWR) at Kakrapar in Gujarat

Officials have been desperately trying to work out what is causing the strange symptoms, but after a year, they are still none the wiser, according to NDTV.
Just over a year ago on March 11, 2016, a unit started leaking and had to be shut down in an emergency due to the amount of water gushing from it.
Several weeks after the leak it was revealed four huge cracks had formed on a coolant tube which was blamed for the incident.
As a result, tubes were exposed to high temperatures and a heavy load of water, which caused them to corrode.

Dunno which of the two the Indians use, zirconium niobium (like the Russians) or zirconium tin (everyone else). But the combination of heat, water and atmosphere does produce corrosion. And it’s dangerous because the corrosion itself can then go bang.

But it’s not smallpox and it’s not a virus.

The lesson every college student should know

This is alarmingly self-referential but this is also the one major thing that every student should know. Everything else pales in comparison when we consider economics and economic stories:

Our world has, over your lifetime, undergone the greatest reduction in poverty and misery in human history. Heck, more people have been lifted out of poverty over that time than in all the rest of human history. That’s a story that every college student should know by heart.

And again:

If you care about people, the economic growth over the last generation is one of the most important stories in all 5,000 years of human civilization. Every economic issue discussed in our recent election cycle pales in comparison.

Or as I am quoted saying:

But bugger me, it is working. Ain’t that fucking grand?

I’ve not been following this but isn’t this fake science?

The world’s most widely used insecticides would be banned from all fields across Europe under draft regulations from the European commission, seen by the Guardian.

The documents are the first indication that the powerful commission wants a complete ban and cite “high acute risks to bees”. A ban could be in place this year if the proposals are approved by a majority of EU member states.

Bees and other pollinators are vital for many food crops but have been declining for decades due to habitat loss, disease and pesticide use. The insecticides, called neonicotinoids, have been in use for over 20 years and have been linked to serious harm in bees.

But whether it’s fake science or not this is entirely ridiculous:

There is a strong scientific consensus that bees are exposed to neonicotinoid pesticides in fields and suffer serious harm from the doses they receive. There is only a little evidence to date that this harm ultimately leads to falls in overall bee populations, though results from major field trials are expected soon.

However, the European commission (EC) has decided to move towards implementing a complete ban now,

Ban before the results of the trials? Now that is fake…..

There’s fair and there’s idiot over reaction

England supporters who engage in sick chanting are finally facing serious action after the Football Association moved to ban those who brought more shame on the nation during their friendly against Germany.

The FA’s patience with the Three Lions fan base snapped following the singing that marred Wednesday night’s game in Dortmund, which took place hours after Britain suffered its worst terrorist attack in more than a decade.

Nine months after England were almost thrown out of the European Championship for rioting in Marseille,

What were they doing? Throttling Belgians? Pushing a wall over onto Italians?

Err, no, they sang a song:

supporters ignored repeated warnings to ditch the odious chanting for which they have also become notorious by performing the song ‘10 German bombers’ in front of what was a television audience of millions.

Wouldn’t say it’s a great song, the joke rapidly becomes repetitive and so on. But no, this is an outrage apparently.

There were 10 German bombers in the air,
There were 10 German bombers in the air,
There were 10 German bombers, 10 German bombers,
10 German bombers in the air.
And the RAF from England shot 1 down,
And the RAF from England shot 1 down,
And the RAF from England, RAF from England,
The RAF from England shot 1 down.

These verses are then repeated with one more bomber being shot down each time, the 10th verse becoming “There was one” and “shot it down”, until the number of bombers reaches zero. The last two verses of the song are:

There were no more German bombers in the air,
There were no more German bombers in the air,
There were no more German bombers, no more German bombers,
No more German bombers in the air.
‘Cos the RAF from England shot them down,
‘Cos the RAF from England shot them down,
‘Cos the RAF from England, RAF from England,
‘The RAF from England shot them down.

The FA should FO, nu?

And it’s even possible that the Telegraph should FO too:

“The chant, which mocks German casualties during the Second World War, “



The government is being urged to tackle segregation in schools after research claimed that more than a quarter of all state primary schools across England and four in 10 state secondaries were ethnically segregated.

The study, which uses a new measure of segregation, also claims that 30% of primary schools and 28% of secondaries are split by socio-economic background.

Sigh, report here.

The over or under representation is done by comparing numbers in a school – by race or socio-economic background – with the census area.

A census area is a rather larger area than a school catchment area.


Well done to the Independent here

Prague zoo cuts off rhinos’ horns to stop poachers

A Czech zoo has removed the horns of its 21 rhinoceros’ as a precautionary measure after one of the creatures was killed by poachers at a French wildlife park.

After sedating the animals, zoo staff used a chainsaw to cut them off.

Přemysl Rabas, the director of the Dvur Kralove zoo, around 70 miles north-east of the country’s capital, Prague,

It’s er, not a zoo in Prague, is it?

We might be able to connect the dots here

The number of child sex offences reported in London has risen by over 20 per cent in the last year.

Latest figures released by the NSPCC revealed that crimes against children rose from 3,911 in 2015 to 4,794 the following year.

The Met police statistics suggest that, on average, 13 children are the victim of sex crimes each day.

The punishments for child porn are getting ever heavier.

The number of cases of child abuse are going up.

Given that we know that more porn produces fewer physical crimes perhaps we’re not doing this the right way?

Well, because most have some pride about the truth

Why aren’t most academics in the debate on issues of public importance?
Next time someone tells you Scotland has a £15billion deficit, throw three words at them: Professor Richard Murphy.

The influential professor of ­practice in international political economy at City University of London made his name exposing the way big companies avoid paying tax – and the ineffectiveness of governments in collecting tax.

He is a chartered accountant who has succeeded in sexing up his subject with his book The Joy of Tax.

This month he turned his ­attention to Scotland and in ­particular claims that the country has a £15billion deficit and is too poor to be an independent country.

Sigh, no one is claiming that Scotland is too poor to be an independent country. Only that there would have to be some sharpish cutting of spending, or raising of taxes, to fund the current budget deficit.

The question to be asked is one Danny Blanchflower posed to academic economists in 2012, which is ‘Where were you?’ The public is funding academics. Why aren’t they being seen and heard?

My own intuition is that academics are busy trying to work out the truth rather than just spouting off but you know, neoliberal that I am.

PS I have accepted three invitations to Scotland in the last couple of days.

Lucky Scots, eh?

BTW, someone must tell Spud that the SNP don’t, as a matter of policy, make peerage recommendations.

Tax Justice Network’s Latest

Our data differ in three areas. Most importantly, we introduce revenue data from the ICTD–
WIDER Government Revenue Database (GRD). The GRD was created in response to the absence
of a consistent, high quality, public data source for revenues. As the creators at the International
Centre for Tax and Development (ICTD) set out (Prichard et al. 2014), no pre-existing source met
these criteria. The set of papers published at the launch of the GRD (ICTD 2014) confirmed both
issues with the quality of data in IMF studies and the failure of multiple researchers to replicate the
results of a number of papers by researchers in the IMF Fiscal Affairs Department. The subsequent
publication of a version of the IMF dataset marked an important step towards transparency,
although it also confirmed that crucial issues remain—such as inconsistent GDP series (McNabb

ICTD include Sol Picciotto. Who is also TJN.

This is just quoting your mates.

“The IMF studies are wrong! See, my mate, under a different name, has said so!”

I fear the Spud is confused here

Why becoming a tax haven would be bad news for Britain

No wonder 82% of all Singaporeans live in state-owned housing, most of which is flats.

Spud, is, is he not, the one who keeps saying that there must be much more social housing?

Something which it appears tax havens can provide?

8 Many tax havens have a staggering debt problem
Running a tax haven is expensive. Local people have to be kept happy and that costs money, which these places don’t have. Singapore has national debt of more than 100% of GDP, which is much more than the UK.

Doesn’t Spud tell us that there should be much more government debt? And from the Singapore page on this:

Is it fiscally sustainable for Singapore to have such a high level of debt?

The answer is ‘Yes’.This situation is fiscally sustainable. This is because these reports only look at gross debt. Taking into account our assets, we have in fact no net debt

In Singapore’s case, we do not borrow to spend. We instead invest all borrowing proceeds. All borrowings are thus backed by assets. What we earn in investment income from our assets is more than sufficient to cover the debt servicing costs. The Singapore Government in fact has a strong balance sheet with assets well in excess of our liabilities.

That’s the Curajus State in action isn’t it? Government borrowing to invest in the economy?

We already knew this was true

President Donald Trump said he felt vindicated in his claims that he was wiretapped by his predecessor Barack Obama after it emerged some of his communications were monitored and did appear in intelligence reports.

Mr Trump and members of his team were the subject of “incidental surveillance” in the months after his election win and their names appeared in reports widely circulated in the intelligence community.

Asked if he felt vindicated by the revelation Mr Trump said: “I somewhat do. I must tell you I somewhat do. I very much appreciated the fact that they found what they found.”

It was the latest twist in a saga that began on March 4 when Mr Trump accused Mr Obama of having Trump Tower “wiretapped”.

This week FBI Director James Comey said there was no evidence to back up Trump’s assertions.

But Congressman Devin Nunes, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, which is investigating the allegations, said communications of Mr Trump and officials working for his transition team were “monitored” after the election.

Because we’ve been told that some of them were talking to Russians… could they know if it wasn’t being monitored?

Stating “but we were monitoring the Russians” is fine, but that still means Trump types were monitored, doesn’t it?

Ghastly little knobs

The terrorist attack on Parliament could have been prevented if police on duty at a well-known security “weak spot” had simply kept it bolted, MPs have said.

Three people died on the road and bridge outside you horrible little knobs. A locked gate between you and your constituents wouldn’t change that, would it?

Entirely valid test this

So, to make things easier, I’ve invented the Sippican Cottage Musical Acid Test:

If you’re from Liverpool, and your composition is played Santuario-di-Madonna-di-San-Luca-skiffle style by five Bolognese men a half a century after you wrote it, you’re on to something with your approach to songwriting. That’s as far as I’ll go.

Akin to Bernard Levin’s idea of the historical filter.

We don’t know what it will be that survives our own cultural or artistic preoccupations and interests. But that historical filter does in fact work. We listen to more Mozart than Scalieri today and there’s nothing wrong with Scalieri’s stuff either, just Amadeus was rather better at it (or as it has been put, God simply poured his love for his creation through him).

Although we can take the odd bet on this. It’ll not be Madonna……