Monday , January 25 2021
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Articles by John

Coronavirus: COVID19 one year on.

1 day ago

COVID 19 was first known to be a contagious epidemic in December 2019 after an outbreak at the Peoples Liberation Army Hospital in Wuhan.  The outbreak spread into the HuaNan fish market.  An article in the Lancet confirmed this pattern of infection with the earliest cases being outside the fish market:Source: LancetHowever, the army volunteers in the PLA Hospital were almost certainly not included in the above data (see below).A site survey of the circumstances of the spread was undertaken by a group of Chinese investigators .  This survey showed that the HuaNan market had never sold bats, that the Virological laboratories in Wuhan had large collections of bat viruses and that biosecurity was so poor that: "The tissue samples and contaminated trashes were  source  of  pathogens.  They

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AIs will dominate warfare by 2030s. Will freedom end?

3 days ago

Unfortunately there are only two approaches to military AI: ban it or have the best.  AI has not been banned so the pace at which AI is being introduced into the military is breathtaking as countries attempt to get the best.  AI is being used to improve the effectiveness of battlefield weapons such as airplanes, tanks and artillery but it is also being used to create autonomous and semi-autonomous weapons.  Semi-autonomous weaponry is particularly interesting.  Individual semi-autonomous weapons are currently being controlled remotely by humans but a transition is occurring where clusters of AI weapons will surround human combatants as they go into battle.The UK has, perhaps, one of the most advanced 6th generation airplanes under development.  The Tempest is designed to control a fleet of

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The BBC: the need for change

5 days ago

The BBC has been subject to dramatic changes in its Charter over the past 14 years and this has had a deeply negative effect on the Corporation.The BBC Charters until 2007 placed the BBC under fairly tight government control and used general advisory and national broadcasting councils to monitor fairness and content.  In 2007 the broadcasting councils were removed and a new structure imposed which included Ofcom as the overseer of BBC bias and content (Ofcom is famously ineffectual, it even has a shocking Trustpilot rating of 1.5 stars ). Unfortunately the 2007 Charter was very weak on fairness and bias which allowed the BBC to become partisan.  There was nothing but Ofcom to stop this.   The BBC speciality was to omit coverage of news or background information that did not reinforce the

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The Mainstream Media are to Blame for Political Unrest

7 days ago

The political unrest in the USA is the result of changes to the regulation of the media that occurred in the late twentieth century.  These allowed media providers to be openly partisan.In 1949 the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) introduced the "Fairness Doctrine" which obliged broadcasters to present fair and balanced coverage of controversial issues of interest to their communities, including by devoting equal airtime to opposing points of view.  In 1987 the FCC ended the Fairness Doctrine and deliberately removed the provisions related to the doctrine until all had gone by 2011. During this period Congress passed the 1996 Telecommunications Act Section 230 which gave Internet companies the power to provide "platforms" where they could censor online content but not be held

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Morality and Politics

10 days ago

The process of democracy evolved to allow those with different ideas of what is moral and right to co-exist in a society.The democratic process involves people freely expressing their opinions and then a vote being taken to decide which group of people should govern for a fixed period.  Political debate revolves around two types of issue, the moral and the managerial.  Each contending group attempts to create a moral platform from which they will govern.It is worthwhile, before considering morality, to consider the nature of political debate and decision making.   If there is to be any meaningful debate in politics the debate must address the full context such as who are the interested parties and what do they believe?  Having established the context then what are the moral points being

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The Great American Purge

12 days ago

We had become used to news of Republicans being excluded from Social Media over the past year in preparation for the Presidential Election but the purge after the election is surprising and worrying.  Waking up this week to news of the withdrawal of big business funding for some Republicans, Amazon Web Services and all other platforms refusing to host Parler,  70,000 "QAnon" accounts being closed by Twitter and even Stripe refusing to process digital payments by the Trump campaign we should all be worried for the USA.  We should also be worried about our own media. Even in the UK they have not clearly stated the nature of the Republican complaint about the election (see below).It was noticeable last week that very few media outlets referred to the actual text of Trump’s "inflammatory"

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Democracy under Attack from Tech Giants!

14 days ago

Twitter, Facebook etc. are banning Republicans.  It should be understood that the political role of these social media giants is not new, they have been routinely biased outside of the USA for years. (See Is Twitter a Menace?).  The misperception of Twitter as a platform for free speech has had enormous ramifications.  As an example the UK Commons Committee on interference in the EU Referendum failed to notice that Twitter had routinely shadow banned and outright banned Leave users.  Facebook was doing the same to any private groups who attempted to set up pro-Leave Facebook pages.The political role of Google and Apple is now also out in the open as they ban and shadow ban Republican platforms.  Again the bias at Google was known for some time (See Google, Twitter, Facebook are all biased

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China – EU Deal

14 days ago

The EU has just signed an Investment Deal with China.  Unlike the UK-EU Trade Deal the Chinese can unilaterally alter its terms and there is no attempt to set a "level playing field" or equal adherence to Human Rights.  Within a week of the Deal being signed the Chinese arrested nearly the entire opposition in Hong Kong.The most amazing aspect of the Deal, in the light of UK-EU negotiations, is that Germany and France pushed it through without full support from the other member states. The EU is shaping up into a Franco-German power with the other member states trapped into being helpless puppets.Notice the lack of coverage of this Deal in the UK broadcast media.  They always suppress the truth about the EU. See EU Press Release11/1/2021

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The “Insurrection” in the USA

18 days ago

The global media have tended to cover the occupation of the US Capitol as an insurrection.  It was a demonstration which ended in a riot, not an insurrection.  Trump will hand over power to Biden in two weeks and all that the riot yesterday will do is cause Trump’s remaining staff to leave before they become unemployable by association.What is most interesting is the media reaction to yesterday’s demonstration.  There was no reason to call it an insurrection, rioters wandering around an emptied government building is not a revolution.  There was also no need for news reporters to effect an air of breathless panic as if the sky were falling in.  They did not behave in this way six months ago when cities across the USA were subject to demonstrations, riots, arson and looting.  Most news

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GCSE Results Down this Year

18 days ago

Nothing shows the fall in educational standards better than the failure of the current generation of journalists and teachers to understand the various types of examinations. This article was originally written in 2012 but still applies.  A postscript for the effects of COVID has been added.GCSE grades have fallen this year (2012) for the first time. 

The pupils, parents, schools, higher education industry and even the government have a vested interest in ensuring that grade inflation continues until everyone gets a grade A.  It is only the long term health of industry and the country that demands proper examinations.  So what went wrong?Apparently this tiny change, that has set the educational establishment and media squealing like stuck pigs, is due to a tougher marking and

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A Guide to Political Principles

19 days ago

What we desire from politics is that it should support us in creating and maintaining a home.   Our home is needed to raise the next generation and to provide each of us with an object for our love.  It is the care for each other that we learn in the home that gives us the the ability to be loyal, love and care for our partners and, if we are fortunate, for our children.  Home is not just our house, it extends wider than this into the town, county and country in which we live.  The home is the ethical and practical foundation of politics, young adults tend to forget this and just assume that their home is a natural part of life.  It is the home that teaches us how to love and the home that we create that teaches us how to give love.  The past fifty years have seen unrelenting attacks on

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Politics is about Home

21 days ago

Most people love their home.  For most people their home is the object of their love.Homes are built by loyalty, tenacity and love.  The adults must struggle in the world beyond the home to bring back enough money to pay for the family.  This is, and has been, the basis for human life.  The family home is about building a structure of love, trust and security.Until the Industrial Age people regarded their village or town as a form of home.  Most people had friends and neighbours who they had known since a young age and who lived locally.  In late teenage life the conflicts between children tended to settle down and adulthood was marked by a large measure of mutual respect amongst peers (modern young adults never discover that this happens).  This made the village or town into a tenuous

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The Public Sector is a Disaster

22 days ago

Challenges like COVID test organisations.The PPE crisis was due to failures in NHS Purchasing.  NHS Purchasing had cunningly used its role as a near monopoly consumer of PPE to terminate PPE production in the UK.  Instead it used a handful of SE Asian and Chinese suppliers which had little surplus stock during the pandemic.  NHS Purchasing is a Civil Service department.  It neglected the need for strategic medical supplies in the UK.The March epidemic in the UK was caused by advice from Public Health England that international travel would have little effect on the epidemic.  Subsequently it has been admitted that the entry of tens of thousands of infected travellers caused the huge UK outbreak.  Any numerate individual could have predicted that millions of people entering the UK from

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Resolutions for A Bright Future!

24 days ago

The success of the UK is now the responsibility of the UK.  Here are some New Year’s resolutions to guarantee a prosperous future.The first task of the Government is to back winners.  This is how any enterprise becomes prosperous. The excellent Alok Sharma of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) might establish competing Investment Councils to provide substantial investment in the shares of successful, medium sized, UK companies. Individuals running the Councils that fail to back winners would be penalised and those who back winners lionised.  Special legislation should allow massive fines for corrupt Council members.  Now we have left the EU the "golden share" could be re-introduced.Government purchasing should favour small and medium sized UK companies.  Any

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Predictions for 2021

28 days ago

The most obvious prediction is that vaccines will defeat the COVID epidemic and life will begin to return to normal.  Full normality is unlikely until the late summer but a semblance of normality will begin at the end of March provided the government prioritises vaccine administration, recruiting pharmacies who already provide vaccinations to the effort as well as anyone else who is competent from medical students to vets.  The UK economy and the global economy are on the rocks but will recover rapidly in 2021. However, it take years to recover to 2008 levels of wages.  The Bank of England will continue playing the very dangerous game of using "stimulus funding" to bolster FTSE companies and banks rather than wages – this stops inflation but leads to ever increasing differences in wealth

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The BBC: A National Liability?

December 22, 2020

Of all the national institutions that have had a role in the COVID pandemic the BBC deserves special mention.  According to its Charter the BBC should offer a range and depth of analysis and content not widely available from other United  Kingdom news providers, using the highest calibre presenters and journalists.  Yet every day the BBC News has been sending out the same message: "no one understands the government guidance".  It is the role of the BBC to explain the government guidance.  It has failed miserably and it is ridiculous moaning about the lack of information that it should have been providing itself. The BBC was so disorganised that it gave more air time in England to the guidance for Scotland and Wales than that for England even though the Scots and Welsh have their own BBC

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Electric Vehicle Resources

December 17, 2020

The new electric vehicle regulations make buying a car at this time a nightmare.  The problem is compounded by cities introducing low emission and zero emission zones.The links below should be useful for anyone researching EVs (electric vehicles). The sale of new diesel and petrol cars is banned after 2030.  Some hybrids will be allowed to be sold until 2035.  See NEW REGULATIONSFrom December 2020 new EVs will qualify for green number plates.The government offers grants of 75% of the cost of installing a "homecharge" charging point. HOMECHARGE SCHEME The "plug in car grant" of £3000 is usually taken by the car dealer. Your electric car must be able to go 70 miles on a charge to qualify for the grant.  See VEHICLES ELIGIBLE and for details:  PLUG IN GRANT  Cities are introducing clean air

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COP 26: Will CO2 reduction alone stop CO2 rise?

December 16, 2020

This year’s international Climate Ambition Summit (COP 26) is seeking to achieve a carbon neutral world as soon as possible.  Suppose we are indeed able to become carbon neutral, will this stop atmospheric CO2 from rising?The big problem facing those who want to reduce atmospheric CO2 concentrations is that man made (anthropogenic) CO2 is only 5% of total CO2 emissions so natural fluctuations could have important consequences and CO2 seems to have a very long lifetime in the atmosphere.In 2019 the Intergovernmental Panel  on Climate Change (IPCC) produced a summary of the current position on climate change: see summary.  This made clear that tackling global warming had two components: lowering CO2 emissions to zero and extracting CO2 from the atmosphere.Fixing global warmingThe IPCC

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COP 26 Climate Conference

December 15, 2020

The COP26 Climate Conference will happen soon.  This will be focusing on how carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions can be reduced in the hope of stopping global warming. Sadly things are not so simple.I will explain what is actually happening below.  We should all be aware of what is happening despite the desire of the broadcasters to hide the truth.  Unfortunately the Broadcast Media have been the main cause of global warming.  In the 1970s they covered the first ecological movement ("Blueprint for Survival" and "Limits to Growth") as the work of gibbering hippies, in the 1990s and noughties they lay in bed with the oil and car industries and in the 2020s they are refusing to even mention that there is an ecological crisis, not a global warming crisis.  Even when David Attenborough made this

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An Amazing Moment in History

December 10, 2020

Most people do not realize that they are witnessing a pivotal moment in history as it happens.  We may think that an event is "major" but have no inkling that it is world shattering.The pivotal events of this century occurred this year as Falcon flew astronauts to the International Space Station and Starship performed its first altitude test.  These events mean that not only will there be a permanent base on the moon by mid decade but a base on Mars will be operational by 2030.We have all become so inured to science fiction, with people flying across the galaxy, that most of us have forgotten that humanity is still firmly located around the Earth.  Elon Musk’s SpaceX is changing the fiction to reality.Elon Musk has followed in the footsteps of the great nineteenth century engineers such as

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Mark Carney’s Second Reith Lecture

December 9, 2020

Mark Carney’s Reith Lectures are fascinating not only because they are analysing recent history but because they are providing a deep insight into the minds of bankers.  Carney comes across as a decent man, he probably is a decent man. I have worked with some of the best salesmen in the world and was initially shocked to discover that most were really decent people who had a deep interest in their fellow human beings.  The nature of Mark Carney will always be a mystery to most of us.In his second Reith lecture Carney implies that the financial crisis was not predicted by any policymakers who mattered, that it was a moral failing and that the crisis was only fixed because of global cooperation.  He is creating a set of myths, most probably to salve the consciences of bankers and restore

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Democracy’s End

December 8, 2020

Democracy spreads power around society, without it a clique clustered around a figurehead has absolute power.  "Western democracy" has spread power to most of adult society as a vote on who is to govern.  How do democracies end?The majority of countries for most of history have had little or no democracy.  If we omit very small countries and tribes the first democratic state was Athens in around 500BC.  Its democracy was limited but it did spread power outside of the clique. Rome also devised a weakly democratic Republic at about the same time. Democracy failed in the first millennium AD and did not occur in any significant State until the Dutch founded a Republic in 1588 and the English Civil War of the 1640s led, almost 50 years later, to the "Glorious Revolution" and the "Bill of

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Climate Change: The Green Economy – how will it work?

December 4, 2020

Boris Johnson has just announced that the UK will cut carbon emissions by 68% from 1990 levels by 2030.  How will the "greening" of the economy affect our wealth? The analysis below suggest that the "green" economy will be less damaging than we might expect.  A fall of 5-6% in GDP, largely as a result of the decline of the "Great Car Economy", is likely by around 2035.  There is likely to be a loss of jobs but this will probably happen as a result of automation anyway.  The 2030s will be a bumpy ride for everyone.Fully electric vehicles will not need conventional filling stations and should be cheaper to keep in good mechanical condition. They should also, in principle, be cheaper to construct as the battery packs fall in price.  The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders produced a

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Mark Carney’s first Reith Lecture

December 2, 2020

This morning I sat cuddled up with my dog to listen to the first Reith Lecture, given by Dr Mark Carney, the ex-Goldman Sachs, ex-Governor of the Bank of England.  It is one of the benefits of the current lockdown that we can sit in peace and broaden our minds.  There are many ways to broaden the mind, for instance we could receive the truth from well structured scientific investigations or might observe other people and their ideas.  Mark Carney’s lecture was firmly in the second category.  Although I disagreed with Carney I should thank him for framing the start of an interesting debate.Mark CarneyThe Reith Lecture was billed as discussing: "What is value? How does the way we assess value both shape our values and constrain our choices? How do the valuations of markets affect the values

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The Internet: should it be Regulated?

December 1, 2020

In the past thirty years Governments in the UK have resolutely ignored the workings of the Internet and have taken the view that it is a "Good Thing".  Governments have seen their role as expediting the spread of the Net to every corner of the country.  It is time they did more.The Internet allows communication, trading, news, information provision, administration, publishing, remote monitoring and control, financial transactions and a social and gaming environment.  Each of these areas of activity happen outside the Internet and where they happen they are accompanied by a raft of legislation that ensures fairness, propriety and security.  Some of the non-Internet legislation carries over to the Internet but much of it does not apply, is not enforced or can be easily avoided.The Internet

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Culture War or Class War?

November 18, 2020

I met a friend who works for the BBC yesterday.  She was horrified at the way Brexit would lead to  problems with the Northern Ireland border.  When I pointed out that the Belfast Agreement meant that Northern Ireland would secede from the UK within a decade or two she became puzzled but it made no difference to her view of UK Independence: that it must be stopped.That UK independence must be stopped is where I am slightly puzzled.  It is a class thing.  If you have enough money and can float around the Western world it all looks fairly similar.  German hotels offer similar service to Spanish hotels, the supermarkets are even from the same chains.  You send your children to the private school of your choice and you have medical insurance.  The "West" is uniform to you.  Surely it is time

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New COVID19 vaccine may herald a new era of medicine.

November 10, 2020

When Pfizer announced that its new vaccine had almost completed Phase III clinical trials you could see the pride and excitement on the spokesman’s face.  This pride was only partly about COVID.  What the spokesman knew is that this was a brand new type of vaccine based on mRNA.  Messenger RNA is a molecule that usually carries the message about the type of protein to be synthesised from the chromosomes in the cell nucleus to the protein factories (ribosomes) in the cell body.  When used as a vaccine mRNA can introduce a genetic code into the cell to synthesize almost any protein from a foreign virus (antigens) and so create an immune response to the antigen and virus.  The mRNA can be designed from scratch and synthesised in the laboratory.Vaccines based on mRNA can be created to generate

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What is the Evidence for Electoral Fraud in the USA?

November 9, 2020

I am happy that it looks like Biden will be the US President.  Biden will be good for the UK and Trump let down a large section of US society that desperately needed a representative who was presidential rather than a game show host.That said I was greatly disturbed by the abrupt slowing of vote counting in the "swing states" which was accompanied by the sudden appearance of large numbers of Biden votes.  I noticed this because I was calculating how far the remaining vote would need to swing to Biden for him to win.  A Biden win looked almost impossible on the Wednesday morning because in most of the swing states over 90% of the vote had been counted and Biden would have needed about 70% of the remaining votes to win. This seemingly impossible change to Biden having 70% of the vote when he

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What happened in the US Election. Why Biden may have Won.

November 5, 2020

I have been following the US Presidential Election quite closely and was surprised to discover that Trump had a lead in most of the swing states until Wednesday.Indeed, the Trump lead on Wednesday morning was such that in North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Georgia it would have needed about 70% of the remaining votes to be pro-Biden for Biden to win.  This was why Trump declared victory.Yet the remaining 5 or 10% of votes turned out to be almost 100% for Biden.Something is fishy here.  My guess is that a loophole in the postal voting system was exploited.  A normal ballot is secret and allows voters to vote according to their conscience but this is not the case with postal votes.  Activists can acquire and take postal voting forms to non-voters and stand over them while they complete the

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US Election too close to call

November 4, 2020

The US Electoral system takes account of the idea that the USA is a Federation of States which means that the President is finally selected by an Electoral College that has a population-weighted number of representatives from each State.  Almost all States use a "winner takes all" system of appointing representatives to the Electoral College, this means that 100% of Californians voting for Biden will have no more effect than 60% of Californians voting for Biden.There are 538 members of the Electoral College so 270 or more votes ensures victory for a Presidential Candidate. Biden currently (10pm 4/11) has 248 votes and Trump had 214.Most US States are polarised as Republican or Democrat which means that US Elections are determined by the "swing" states.  In 2020 the swing states are:

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