Where’s the beef?

Just a comment I wrote originally in response to an article in The Ecologist, which now seems to have been pulled. But never mind it can still be found on the GM Watch website

Personally I'm very suspicious of GM . I certainly wouldn't choose to eat it given a choice , which I have since I'm fortunate enought to live in a country where nobody is starving .
Rothamsted gives us a burning question. Is Non-Violent Direct Action justified ?  From reading the above my inchoate though firm belief is that it is not.
Yes, the LM mob make uncomfortable bedfellows , but I don’t see how their place in all this tells us anything about the safety or otherwise of the trial, which is the key issue .  Same with Moloney and his past links with Monsanto.  Bringing up Monsanto is misleading because Monsanto have nothing to do with this trial . And I don't doubt that under current conditions it would be hard to sell the wheat, but consumer demand isn’t an indicator of safety either.
There's an awful lot of froth in Jonathan Matthews argument with no killer point to justify  activist's claims to be 'decontaminating' the site. Farmer Smith gets closest to the mark but his main question is economic .   The question of whether the trial would contaminate the UK's wheat suppply is also apt ,  and it's been addressed by reference to an incident involving the US rice supply.  I'm not qualified to consider the merits and demerits of that argument but the conclusion "triggering a massive market loss, as a result of GM rice trials" strongly suggests those concerns amount to loss of consumer confidence rather than some feared viral strain of wheat taking hold of England's green and pleasant land.
If there was a scientific debate about the safety of this GM trial I'd support the Direct Action in principle. But a debate on Newsnight between activists and academics doesn't meet that  criteria.
These are interesting times. I'm not sure I get  Jonathan Matthews point that 'the Rothamsted scientists seem content to gamble our food security...' but I do wonder how Green concerns that scientists have got it wrong in GM are compatible with the very real alliance between science and Greens in climate.

Telegraph Windfarm Factfail

A recent Telegraph intereview of  laugh out loud funny anglophile American Bill Bryson focuses on windfarms. A dog-whistle to Telegraph readers and one which facts are routinely sacrificed to satisfy the Telegraph's fulminations.

"Mr Bryson, President of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said the [wind] turbines will destroy the countryside" an aesthetic judgment blurring the distinction between fact and opinion, but let's move on.

"A CPRE report shows most of the turbines are being built in areas of outstanding natural beauty " writes Louise Gray

This surprised me so I took a look at the report. Lo and behold paragraph 23:  "National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty have, on the whole, been protected from wind turbines within their borders..."

Having mangled that simple fact, I'm averse to sharing the Telegraph's view on the aesthetics of wind turbines.

Nato Summit Epic Fail

Here's what I know about Military Grand Strategy. It's mostly about putting your pieces where they are to the best advantage.  Try not to place your cavalry in more than a couple of feet of water. Keep the Catering Corps to the rear or it'll end badly. Submarines never work well on high ground. That sort of thing.

Now I'm no Clausewitz, what I've written above is pretty elementary stuff , there is more to it than that . But basically think carefully where you put your pieces is a good start.

This weekend, the good people of Chicago are being frisked by airport style security before they ride on their underground railway . Why ?  Because some fuckwit generals decided to hold their NATO Summit 2012 in a venue above the Metra underground railway. 

If I was a general I'd put the summit somewhere not above an underground railway. Rather than put it there and then get the local cops to hand out flyers like this, impinging on everyone's civil rights, and giving us good cause to want to blow up your world leaders. Sheeesh. Let's hope the NATO general that thought this one up doesn't get to do the next big invasion.

H/t @PWeiskel08

Heartland. The Inevitable Downfall Parody

Exclusive footage as the last of Heartland's donors reconsider their position

Enough of Nazis already ? Time to watch Lee Camp's new Moment of Clarity on the way the world really is .  It is Cool.


MEPs with Nothing to Declare

It's that time of year again - Members of the European Parliaments have to declare their financial interests.  And new rules mean MEPs now have to disclose their occupations for the three years before boarding the gravy train, I mean Parliament.

The European Parliament say the new code's 'guiding principle is transparency' and 'MEPs will have to state, publicly and on line, any professional activity performed during the three years before their election, as well as any membership of any board of companies, NGOs and/or associations held during that period or currently.'

Some of our MEPs have found a novel way round the code of conduct, submit the form but with nothing written on it.  Tory Malcolm Harbour  has written nothing at all on his declaration of interests. UKIP boss Nigel Farage writes NOT APPLICABLE in answer to the European Parliament's impertinent questions.  And climate denier Godfrey Bloom writes nothing at all on his declaration and hasn't even signed it.

It's a matter of public record that Bloom was employed and on the Board of his company TBO Investments before becoming an MEP . Records from Companies House prove that.  TBO investments was fined £28000 by the Financial Services Authority for improper risk evaluation. The press release from the FSA cites that TBO's offences date from December 2001. So Bloom's failure to declare his link to TBO is not merely happenstance, he became an MEP in May 2004 three years after TBO's failings began.  That's Bloom, lying whilst staying schtum.

Link to declaration of interests for Harbour .
Link to declaration of interests for Farage .
Link to declaration of interests for Bloom .

Monty turns the Unabomber ads Upside-down

"Is there one rule for upholders of the climate orthodoxy and another for dissenters?" asks blogger Andrew Montford. Since Monty routinely deletes any comment I post on his blog and even attempts to block me from viewing it I'll have to offer my answer here.

Monty's gripe today is that Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik is a climate denier.  No, to be more precise Monty's gripe is that Graham Readfearn's blog supporting the consensus has noted Breivik's manifesto actually cites the work of Lord Christopher Monckton, Alex Jones and Steve McIntyre and echoes the beliefs of many climate change deniers. Whilst what Graham Readfearn writes in DeSmogBlog happens to be perfectly true Monty isn't shy to argue for it to be censored.

This is of course in response to, and to detract from,  Heartland's notorious Unabomber ads splashed over the Eisenhower Expressway Illinois.

But there are four important differences between Readfearn's commentary and Heartland's ads which have passed Montford by:

  • The Breivik story is contemporary. The minutiae of his 'personality' are being picked over by the mass media. Whereas the Unabomber has been on the inside of a Federal Penitentiary for 16 years now.
  • Breivik's climate denial leanings are co-incidental to his crimes . Readfearn is careful not to imply that  a trait of mass murder is to be on the wrong side of the climate debate.
  • By contrast Heartland make exactly that claim in their commentary . The ads put forward no science whatsoever so they can't really be called skepticism. Heartland say in their press release:  "The people who still believe in man-made global warming are mostly on the radical fringe of society. This is why the most prominent advocates of global warming aren't scientists. They are murderers, tyrants, and madmen" 
  • The Unabomber ad intends to make an empirical argument to the public, whereas this particular blogpost by Readfearn is largely preaching to the choir and is confined to commentary not scientific argument.

Advertising in a public context requires standards of decency, half the story here is how Heartland lack that. The other half is not the overlap between a mass murderer's views and Montford's; it's Montford's demand that other bloggers should recoil from noting that.