Tuesday , March 20 2018
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Tim Watkins

US finds its smoking gun… and it makes no difference

Big Data - Cambridge Analytica

In mid-February, Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted 13 individuals who had worked for the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency of interfering with the 2016 US presidential election.  But for all the “we told you so’s” of the corporate media, the indictment proved to be a damp squib.  Most of the …

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UK energy policy puts lives at risk

UK Snowstorm Deaths

Journalists are quick to tell us about the days on which we burned little or no coal at all (for electricity generation).  They are more reticent when it comes reporting times when coal provides a quarter of our electricity and prevents a national catastrophe. That, in effect, is what happened …

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Economists baffled by UK snowstorm


Following the fateful conjoining of Atlantic Storm Emma and The Beast from the East on Thursday, people have once again been behaving in a manner wholly inconsistent with the models used by politicians and central bankers to determine economic policy. In Newport, for example, as temperatures plummeted on Wednesday night, …

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Of potholes, disasters and collapse

Pot holes

One benefit of cycling (rather than driving) along public roads is that I have had a much better view of the slow degeneration of the road surface.  As a regular cyclist, I have been aware for more than a year that my local roads had deteriorated to the point that …

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Remind me again, what was Plan B?

Gas flame

Plan A, you will remember, was that the UK was going to use its massive reserves of gas as a transition fuel to fill the gap between phasing out coal and bringing in a new generation of renewables and nuclear power.  Hydraulic fracturing was going to be the game changer; …

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Economic failure

Recession 2018

It is a decade since the world was plunged into the worst economic crisis in living memory.  Its impact is still being felt today.  Most obviously, the election of Donald Trump and the UK decision to leave the European Union would have been unimaginable in the years before the crash.  …

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Unexpected inflation in the bagging area

Supermarket bagging area

No politician wants to be associated with inflation.  The trouble is that no politician wants to be associated with budget reductions either.  So while a government might cut benefits and services aimed at people who do not vote (like young people) or people who do not support them (like disabled …

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The plastic trap

Plastic waste

David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II is one of those popular science documentaries that occasionally capture the public imagination.  Among the various harms documented, examples of the impact of plastic on the marine environment have helped spur a wave of public indignation of the “something must be done” type.  Among the …

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Energy and the Enlightenment

Sugar - the fuel of the Enlightenment

With Steven Pinker’s new book Enlightenment Now currently making the headlines, it is worth, perhaps, visiting two of the least asked questions about the European Enlightenment – why did it happen where and when it did? The mainstream answer – one that underlay the European racism and nationalism of the …

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Fracking weakness exposed

Fracking finance

It is – as the former directors of Carillion can attest – entirely possible to simultaneously make and lose money hand over fist.  All you have to do is to persuade gullible investors to loan you vast sums of money against the promise of future riches.  Only when it becomes …

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