Saturday, 31 July 2010

BP's evaporating oil slick leaves America without a villain

Telegraph
"With the gush from the BP oil spill plugged for the past two weeks, experts are beginning to question whether it can really be called an environmental disaster at all,..."

So has the great BP environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico been over-hyped?

Daily Mail
"The environmental damage caused by BP’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill may have been grossly exaggerated, a growing body of experts is suggesting.In a bold move, scientists have dismissed the torrent of grim predictions from President Obama and environmentalists as ‘hype’ with no data to back it up.Instead, those working on the ground say the oil is breaking up far more quickly than expected and the number of birds being killed is low.Just days after the Deepwater Horizon leak was capped two weeks ago, coastal grass began to grow back, as did trees which serve as breeding grounds for fish and other wildlife."

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The good oil on “the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced” Andrew Bolt, Herald Sun (Australia)
"Within a month of the huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, I warned that the damage done by spills tended to be wildly exaggerated, and that this one seemed to be no exception. Two months later, Time now agrees: "

Friday, 30 July 2010

Today's GDP Report: Getting Real About the Recession

Time
"So it was a humdinger, after all. Friday morning's GDP report, which is the first stab at estimating growth in the just completed second quarter of 2010, also provides some significant revisions to prior quarter growth estimates. The latter news is perhaps bigger than the 2nd quarter's 2.4% gain—a bit below the consensus expectation of 2.7%. But what should really rock the boat is that the Commerce department did revisions across the full span of the pre-recession and post-recession period. While this big a revision across multiple quarters is not unprecedented, it will be an eye opener to many who commonly compare this recession to ones that occurred in the past two decades. What's now clear is those comparisons were apples to oranges. What we suffered in the past recession—the depth of the contraction— hasn't been seen since the 1940s. "

Double-dip feared as US economic growth loses pace

Telegraph
"..The biggest factor in the slowdown was the US's widening trade deficit, following a 28.8pc surge in imports – the sharpest rise in 26 years – against a 10.3pc rise in exports. "

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Britain to be biggest country in Europe by 2050

Telegraph
"Britain will see its population swell from today's 62.2 million to 77 million, an increase of 24 per cent. ..Europe, in total, will see its population dip from 739 million to 720 million, because of its low birth rate.The world's population will increase inexorably, swelling from 6.89 billion to 9.49 billion. India will be responsible for a significant part of this increase, becoming the largest country in the world by overtaking China.The country, which hit 1 billion just a decade ago and now has a population of 1.19 billion, is expected to hit 1.75 billion, adding the equivalent of the entire population of the European Union in a mere 40 years.China's population will increase, but relatively modestly, moving from 1.34 billion to 1.48 billion."

Vicar carried out 360 sham marriages for illegal African immigrants marrying Eastern Europeans to live in Britain

Daily Mail
"During the seven-week trial, jurors heard that Brown presided over 383 marriages during the four-year indictment period, a staggering 30-fold increase on the 13 he had conducted over during the previous four years."

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

The Senate's hounding of BP is nauseating

Telegraph
"It is against this rather encouraging background that we should view the shameless political show-boating of the US Senate in trying to haul BP’s departing chief executive Tony Hayward to Washington (along with former Justice Secretary Jack Straw and Scotland’s Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill) to interrogate them on whether BP lobbied for the release of the Lockerbie bomber, Abdulbaset al-Megrahi. Wisely, all three have told the Senate to take a running jump. There is something nauseating about this continued hounding of BP by American law-makers. They live in the most oil-dependent country on the planet yet seem obsessed with kicking the companies that have to do the dirty work of getting the black stuff into their gas-guzzlers. ....Their attempt to make political mileage out of this should be treated with the contempt it deserves."

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Every pound coin in UK could be scrapped as one in 36 is now fake

Daily Mail
"Record numbers of fake £1 coins in circulation could force the Royal Mint to scrap every one and reissue the entire denomination.The number of fakes now stands at 41million in Britain – one in every 36 coins in current use.This is an unprecedented amount and suggests that the proportion of counterfeit coins had tripled in the last decade.The situation has worsened since last year, when one in 40 £1 coins was fake.Experts and MPs said the level of fakes were so high there was now a serious risk that consumer confidence in Britain's most popular coin was becoming compromised.With increased security measures making it easier to spot counterfeit notes, the £1 coin is becoming more popular.The figures were published in a Parliamentary answer supplied by Justine Greening, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury to Andrew Rosindell, the Conservative MP."

Monday, 26 July 2010

Interest Rates 'Will Stay At 0.5% Until 2014'

Sky News
"According to Ernst & Young's Item Club, the Bank of England's base rate will remain on hold at 0.5%, where it has been since March 2009, until 2014.Such a freeze would be welcomed by borrowers, who will enjoy lower mortgage and other loan repayments, but would be bad news for anyone who relies on an income from savings.Item says the low interest rate will be necessary to counterbalance slowing inflation as the Government's spending cuts come into force.Andrew Goodwin, senior economic advisor to the Item Club, told Sky News: "The VAT rise will keep inflation rates high in the short term, but come 2012 I would expect inflation to be well below the 2% target."Item believes this will happen as the effects of VAT and high energy prices wear off - and spare capacity in the economy affects firms' pricing decisions and employees' wages. "I think unless interest rates are pinned to the floor in the way they are now for the next three to four years, we'll see inflation get progressively lower," Mr Goodwin added."

Sunday, 25 July 2010

India warned of stagflation risk as price of food soars

Telegraph
"As David Cameron leads a giant delegation of British businessman to India, the tiger economy is facing the worst overheating crisis in a decade and may have to jam on the brakes. "

Friday, 23 July 2010

UK economy grows at the fastest pace in four years

Telegraph
"Mr Osborne said: "Today's figures show the private sector contributing all but 0.1pc of the growth in the second quarter, and put beyond doubt that it was right to begin acting on the deficit now." "While I am cautiously optimistic about the path for the economy, the job is not yet done. The priority now is to implement the Budget policies which support rebalancing and help ensure the sustained growth that the Office for Budget Responsibility forecast this year and next." The pound jumped more than a cent against the dollar to $1.54 on the release of the figures.Nonetheless, leading economists warned the growth could be "as good as it gets" for the UK economy. "

Thursday, 22 July 2010

One baby in four born to migrants: Number of foreign-born mothers has doubled

Daily Mail
"Almost a quarter of babies are born to immigrant mothers, an official breakdown showed yesterday.It found that 24.7 per cent of children born last year have mothers who were born abroad – and that their numbers have doubled since the late 1990s.The sharply rising numbers of babies with foreign-born mothers came despite an overall fall in births.The figures produced fresh warnings to ministers that immigration rates must be brought down to avoid the growing threat of overpopulation in Britain."

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

It's Still Getting Worse

BOM
"When it comes to our horrendous fiscal deficit, the Labour Party, the BBC, and the rest of the left have long argued that we can afford to wait before starting with the knife. Today's rather nasty public borrowing stats underline just how deluded (and self-serving) that argument is."

UK deficit fears reappear as debts hits £927bn

Telegraph
"Plans to cut Britain's mountainous national debt have been given fresh urgency by new figures showing that the state of the public finances is even worse than feared. .....George Osborne, who announced £113bn of spending cuts and tax rises in the Budget to shake off market concerns and preserve the UK's AAA credit rating, said: "The public finance numbers today remind us why we need to get on top of the budget deficit."

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Cameron walks into diplomatic nightmare as Lockerbie furore overshadows first visit to White House

Daily Mail
Hypocrisy of U.S. oil firms who deal with Gaddafi

"Politicians in Washington have been accused of hypocrisy for their criticism of Britain and BP over links to Libya.It turns out that American energy companies have been leading the charge when it comes to forging links with Colonel Gaddafi's regime.Since Libya re-opened for business in 2005, US oil giants such as Exxon Mobil and Chevron have been piling in to stake their claim for Africa's largest oil reserves.More than 50 American energy companies, compared to just four from the UK, have signed contracts with Tripoli for oil exploration and invested tens of billions of pounds in the country.Experts said pursuing such an agenda while criticising British companies that do the same thing shows America wants to 'have its cake and eat it'.Exxon, the world's largest oil company, has set up a special subsidiary, Exxon Mobil Libya Ltd, to keeping business running smoothly.So keen is the petro-chemical giant to get on the right side of the authorities, it is even funding £18million of initiatives to educate impoverished children as part of a countrywide social responsibility drive."

UK's finances hit by borrowing high

Yahoo News/PA
"The woes facing Britain's battered finances showed few signs of easing as the Office for National Statistics (ONS) confirmed the budget deficit widened by another £700 million in June to £12.6 billion.Last month's public sector net borrowing was £200 million less than the £14.7 billion seen a year ago, but was more than the £13.5 billion expected by analysts.Figures excluding the temporary effects of State financial intervention showed borrowing rose to £15.2 billion up from £14.9 billion in June 2009."

Monday, 19 July 2010

No more DVDs, Mr President: Why Barack Obama should tread carefully with David Cameron

Telegraph
"It is important never to underestimate the extent to which this US administration is capable of riling America’s allies, from removing a bust of Sir Winston Churchill from the Oval Office within days of taking office to the president playing golf on the day of the funeral of the Polish president, tragically killed in a plane crash. Or siding with Argentina’s calls for UN-brokered negotiations over the sovereignty of the Falklands, and throwing key allies Poland and the Czech Republic under the Russian bus. Or siding with Marxists in Honduras, and humiliating the Prime Minister of Israel. The list is endless.

In fact, the Obama team has done more to offend America’s friends than all post-war American administrations put together. Throw into the mix some strong anti-British and anti-foreign sentiment among some Democrats on Capitol Hill in the wake of the BP Gulf oil spill, and you have the potential for another diplomatic incident."

Moody's cut Ireland's credit rating

Reuters
"Some of the euro zone's toughest spending cuts last year gave Ireland respite from the market assault on other peripheral euro zone countries such as Greece, Spain and Portugal. But Dublin's fiscal discipline has been all but overshadowed by fresh rounds of bad news from the banks. The cost of bailing out nationalised Anglo Irish Bank last year gave Ireland a budget deficit of 14 percent of gross domestic product, the highest in Europe, and this could rise to 20 percent this year, the state-funded Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) said last week ."

Sunday, 18 July 2010

American politics has caught the British disease

Telegraph
"..In the US, there is probably no going back for the Obama administration. It has definitively lost faith with the "little guy" voters who once thought of a Democratic presidency as a form of divine protection, and this president does not seem to have the ingenious flexibility of a Bill Clinton, who swung Right after his first disastrous years in office, partly under pressure from a Republican Congress. "

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Barack Obama needs to find his voice

Telegraph
"..If Obama wants to govern effectively for the second two years of his term, and if he wants to win again in 2012, he will have to learn to adjust to the new political terrain and find a way to inspire confidence in the future. "

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Peter the Great's poisonous pen will do Britain a power of good

Telegraph
"..With undisguised cheek, David Miliband is now urging anyone who will listen to "focus on the problems of the future", rather than dwell on the past, a sentiment echoed by his brother, who is keen for Labour to "move on". You can see why. For them, and us, recent history is a dreadful place to be.

It is where a dysfunctional clique took the United Kingdom into an illegal war, dismantled border controls, encouraged unprecedented immigration, debased educational standards, attacked the independence of our best schools and universities, botched devolution, eroded British sovereignty, pumped up a consumer debt bubble, ran our private pension system into the ground, messed up financial regulation and wrecked the country's balance sheet.

Culprits always want to move on. Victims, however, often cannot. In that sense (I never thought I would write this), Lord Mandelson has done Britain a favour. His autobiography – a marvellous compendium of score-settling, poison and betrayal – will be an enduring reminder of the New Labour horror show. Life without them in charge feels like coming up for air. "

UK long-term unemployment soars to 1997 levels

Telegraph
"Long-term unemployment has jump by 47.5pc over the year to 787,000 in the three months to May, according to the Office for National Statistics. Older workers were the worst hit group, with more than half of over 50s out of work now classed as long-term unemployed, the figures revealed.Millions of people are now working part time either because they can't find a full-time job, or because employers have cut the number of days they work, the statistics found. "

Spain calls on ECB for record funding

Telegraph
"Spanish banks called on a record amount of funding from the European Central Bank (ECB) in June amid mounting volatility on financial markets. "

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

PIIGS may yet fly, but not while they're trapped in this rickety eurozone

Telegraph
"Two of the eurozone's economic problems are dangerously inter-related. The first is enormous levels of government debt – about 120pc of GDP for Greece and Italy. The second is the loss of competitiveness of the eurozone's southern members, which also, generally speaking, are the ones with high budget deficits and/or ratios of government debt to GDP. "

House price slump may last a decade, experts warn

Daily Mail
"Fears that any recovery in house prices will be short-lived were growing last night - following a series of devastating reports about the future of the property market.In an unprecedented warning, four leading experts raised concerns that the housing market could be teetering on a knife-edge for the next decade.They included accountants Pricewaterhouse Coopers, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, a leading economic consultancy and the Council of Mortgage Lenders."

Monday, 12 July 2010

UK GDP growth unchanged at 0.3pc in first quarter, recession deeper than thought

Telegraph

"Britain's economy grew at an unrevised 0.3pc in the first three months of the year, but the recession was deeper than thought, according to official figures that had been delayed almost two weeks due to 'potential errors'. "

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Education Secretary Gove scrapped £40k bonus of quango boss blamed for schools fiasco

Daily Mail
"...Now, according to well-placed sources, an investigation into how Mr Gove made the blunder has pointed the finger of blame at Mr Byles.And the sources have disclosed that one of Mr Gove's first acts on becoming education Secretary was to scrap Mr Byles's £40,000 bonus as part of the Government's blitz on quangos.'The list that caused all the trouble was drawn up not by the Department for education but by PfS,' said a source. 'It wasn't a clerical error or a database mix-up. The database itself was wrong because of information management failings by PfS.'

The angry backlash led to a fierce behind-the-scenes row between the Government and PfS. Sources say Mr Byles, 51, denied he was to blame.'The Department for education was told it just wasn't possible to produce details with the degree of accuracy they wanted,' said one.But a Government insider hit back: 'PfS should have known what stage each school was at in the process. It was set up to run the school buildings programme. If they aren't up to speed with that, then what is the point of its existence? It is a shambles.'

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Abu Hamza is still here, yet we extradite hundreds unfairly

Telegraph
"Abu Hamza, who has already been convicted of inciting religious hatred here, has just managed to persuade the European Court to delay his extradition from Britain to stand trial for terrorism-related offences in the US. Most of the people in this country whom other states want to extradite aren’t so fortunate. That’s why the real scandal isn’t that Abu Hamza has not yet been extradited to America. It’s that so many British citizens are packed off to face trial or imprisonment abroad when they should never have been handed over at all. "

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Experts: Britain To Dodge Double Dip - Just

Sky News
"..The group of economists and business leaders made the call as they more confidently predicted the Bank of England would make no changes to monetary policy following its July interest rate meeting.The 12-strong panel was unanimous in saying the likelihood of another downturn had increased in the last three months - because of both spending cuts at home and international factors such as the eurozone debt crisis.But they stopped short of saying it had become a probable outcome - aside from pensions expert Donna Bradshaw, who regarded a fresh bout of economic contraction as "inevitable".Ian McCafferty, chief economic adviser to the CBI, said the main reason for the darkening outlook was precisely the financial markets' "fixation" with a double-dip recession."

EU Fines Every British Man, Woman and Child €3

Guido Fawkes Blog
"The EU takes taxes from British taxpayers without any democratic legitimacy and then redistributes them around Europe, much of it ends up back in Britain as regional grants for infrastructure projects.

Out of gratitude to this complex laundering system, these infrastructure projects have to fly the European flag and paste their branding across signage. On top of the £6 billion the UK is already sending to Brussels this year, a further “fine“ of €200 million has been levied for failure to adhere to these rules. Here’s an idea, why not just keep the money here in the first place? "

Brussels fines us £150m for failing to fly the EU flag at funded projects

Daily Mail
" Brussels has fined Britain more than £150million for failing to display the EU flag on a string of projects part-funded by Europe.Several schemes were also penalised for failing to use the flag on their letterheads.The fines relate to £3.8billion given to the UK by the European Regional Development Fund over a seven-year period.The fund has contributed to dozens of projects including the Eden Project, in Cornwall, the Millennium Bridge, in Gateshead, and the redevelopment of Liverpool’s King’s Dock.Funding from the ERDF usually has to be matched pound for pound by Government cash.Britain is a net contributor to the EU budget and critics have long complained that ERDF funding is essentially recycled taxpayers’ money.This year the UK will contribute £6.4billion more to Brussels than it receives back."

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Australia holds rates over global growth fears

Telegraph
"Australia held interest rates at 4.5pc for the second consecutive month, citing concerns about growth in Europe and China that could affect the global recovery. "

Monday, 5 July 2010

Keep a close eye on Google's buying spree

Telegraph
"Last autumn, the chief executive of Google, Eric Schmidt, said that after another good round of results the digital giant would be making one "small" acquisition a month. With $22bn in annual revenues and a value north of $162bn, the technology company was keen to investigate ways of leveraging its cash pile and finding growth via bolt-ons rather than launching its own new businesses through hiring. "

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Barack Obama's 'politics as usual' revealed by Rod Blagojevich trial

Telegraph
"..Quite why the President who promised hope, change and transparency thought it proper to have been trying to ease his friend into his old Senate seat just days after he had won the White House has not been answered.There is no suggestion that what Obama was doing was anything illegal, improper or even out of the ordinary, at least in Illinois. He was simply engaging in politics as usual.Unfortunately, politics as usual is what Candidate Obama promised to bring to an end. "

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Ministers 'wasted millions on stockpile of swine flu drugs for epidemic that never arrived'

Daily Mail
"More than £1.2billion of taxpayers’ money was spent on the swine flu pandemic that never materialised, a report has found.The Government was forced to squander vast sums on vaccines based on dire predictions that never came true.But ministers were committed to the spending because drugs giants refused to back out of their contracts."

Swine flu: a £1.2billion lesson in how not to negotiate contracts

Telegraph
"..One of the main reasons for this astronomical cost is that the then government signed contracts with drug companies that had no effective get-out clauses. That should surprise no-one. The Department of Health is one of the world’s biggest purchasers and should be able to drive the hardest of bargains with suppliers. Instead, as in this case, it doesn’t even seem to make the effort. Awash with taxpayer’s money for the past decade, it has been quite content to shovel vast sums into the coffers of the drug companies, no questions asked. Shouldn’t some heads roll over this?"