John Hemming's Web Log John's Reference Website
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
  LB of Islington v Al Alas and Wray [2012] EWHC 865 (Fam)
I have now read the Judgment in the case LB of Islington v Al Alas and Wray [2012] EWHC 865 (Fam) This is a significant case in that it is not just about Vitamin D, but also about SBS. In essence we have a case where a child develops the symptoms of SBS in hospital. The problem with the science here has always been the ethical problems of proving that the triad can be caused by shaking. There are those that think that this is not possible. I have always been more concerned about looking at the issue of certainty. What is clear is that the certainty that there has been was mistaken.
 
Sunday, April 22, 2012
  Some figures on OECD oil demand
2006 - 49.58
2007 - 49.17
2008 - 47.54
2009 - 45.64
2010 - 46.17
2011 - 45.62

Forecast 2012 45.24

These are sourced from the 2008 Oil Market Report and the April 2012 OMR. The 2008 figure, therefore, may now have been slightly changed. The figures are in millions of barrels of oil per day. In other words OECD demand appears to have peaked. A big question about oil is that of elasticity of demand with price. However, from a Gross Value Added perspective clearly any economic growth would also require a reduction in the crude oil specific energy intensity.
 
  Grandparents and the extended family
The Sunday Express have a story about the lack of use of extended family. There needs to be a greater willingness to use extended family. Obviously this is happening in many cases, but frequently absurd reasons are given to place children other than with the family.
 
Thursday, April 19, 2012
  Michael Wilkes articles on Elected Mayor
See the link for these.
 
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
  Labour and the Additional Rate of Tax
Labour have got into a real mess on the Tax rate for over 150Kpa. They first forgot to vote against the resolution and went home. Only 2 Labour MPs voted with the SNP against the new rate.

Having missed that opportunity they face the difficulty that they are not allowed to propose an amendment to increase tax. In an attempt to get round that they have proposed to remove the additional rate. That leaves only then the higher rate of 40%.

Hence they are now proposing to reduce the additional rate to 40%.
 
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
  No to directly elected mayor leaflets
The second leaflet against a directly elected mayor in Birmingham has just been launched and will be distributed over the next few weeks. Here are links to both leaflets.





 
Sunday, April 15, 2012
  Expert Witnesses further information
The link is to a further story in the Daily Mail about George Hibbert. More cases of reports being written about people that have not been seen are coming up.
 
Saturday, April 14, 2012
  Interesting Adoption Story on BBC Network from Australia
The link is to an interesting story that people read forward into the current policies in the UK.
 
Thursday, April 12, 2012
  Lucy Allan on This Morning
It is worth replaying Lucy Allan's story on This Morning. What I was not aware of previously was that she was assessed twice by the same psychologist. Once when she paid privately and once without seeing the assessor. The assessments were completely different.

I have also found this story from the London Evening Standard.
 
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
  Article by Steve Beauchampé re elected Mayor
Why The Mayoral Referendum Matters

I recall a magazine headline prior to the tightly contested 2000 US Presidential election: it read: ‘Bush and Gore - Too Close To Care’. The implication, of course, was that the two men’s policies were so similar that it mattered not which was elected. We now know better.

I was reminded of this headline recently when a friend likened Birmingham’s forthcoming mayoral referendum to, “moving the deckchairs around on the Titanic”. The implication being that not much would change should there be a Yes vote. But it most certainly will.

In fact, the Localism Act 2011, which forces Birmingham and ten other English cities into holding referendums, could result in the biggest change to how our city is governed in over 100 years. But while the concept of a figurehead elected by the voters every four years may initially sound attractive, an examination of the extent of the changes to how we would be governed under the mayoral system makes alarming reading.

The current system largely mirrors the national parliament at Westminster, with a leader elected from the largest party and the cabinet made up of elected councillors from either the ruling party or - as at present - the ruling coalition. Elections are staged three years out of every four, with one-third of council seats contested each time.

But if a simple majority of Birmingham voters choose to adopt the mayoral model on May 3rd (no minimum percentage turnout is required), then the present system will be replaced with an elected mayor and executive. This executive can number as few as three (the mayor and two councillors) but the mayor may appoint an unlimited number of special advisors to help devise and implement his policies (the London mayor currently has 24!). This is where much of the real power will lie, yet these special advisors are unelected, can serve for the entire mayoral term and can only be removed from office by the mayor.

Additionally, the Council’s multi-billion pound annual budget, which currently requires approval by 50%+1 of councillors, can henceforth be passed with only one-third support (so it would be approved even if 80 out of our 120 local councillors voted against it). Strategic policy decisions (such as cuts to public services, their privatisation or major infrastructure projects) will also require just one-third approval rather than the present 50%+1. As the mayor’s four-year term progresses, it is increasingly likely that many policies will not have featured in any mayoral manifesto and thus will not have been put before the public.

The distinct lack of checks, restraints and limitations by which to hold the mayor accountable continues; they cannot be forced from office by a vote of no confidence by councillors or removed via a recall system (despite the fact that the government is proposing one for MPs). In fact the Localism Act ensures that it will be almost impossible to dismiss a mayor between elections.

Further mocking the democratic process, the government have refused even to announce what the mayor’s full powers and policy remit will be until after the referendum! So Birmingham’s electorate are being asked to make an informed decision about an office whose scope and powers have yet to determined!

But given that the Localism Act authorises the Secretary of State for Local Government and Communities to transfer almost any public service to the control of an elected mayor, it’s safe to assume that in time mayoral powers will only increase.

In stark contrast, councillors will be further marginalised and their expertise wasted. Their rôle has already been substantially reduced by the Local Government Act 2000, which removed the committee system that gave them real input into policy making. In future they will be unable to exert any meaningful influence over mayoral policy and will, to all intents and purposes, be powerless to affect the big strategic decisions on which council services often depend. They will be reduced to little more than attending to highly localised issues on behalf of constituents and commenting on mayoral policy via essentially toothless (and often retrospective) Overview and Scrutiny Committees.

Yet unlike in Stoke-on-Trent, where the electorate terminated their failed mayoral experiment by holding a second referendum, the government is not permitting Birmingham that option. Instead, abandoning the mayoral route will require an Act of Parliament and the prospect of Westminster allowing the time to pass such legislation (or caring enough to support it) is as good as zero.

If it were proposed to introduce such sweeping changes at Westminster there would be uproar. If we replaced the Prime Minister with a President, lowered the bar for budget approval and the passing of legislation from 50% to one-third, reduced the size and importance of the Cabinet, and devolved policy making and implementation from Ministers to presidential appointees, the nation would rise in anger at such an assault on democracy.

So why should we accept it in Birmingham?

Steve Beauchampé
April 2012
 
Saturday, April 07, 2012
  Forced Adoption in Italy
The link is to the story of Anna Guilia Camparini. At least in Italy these issues can be properly discussed unlike in the UK.
 
Wednesday, April 04, 2012
  Snooping proposal - hopefully on its way out
I was one of a number of Lib Dem MPs to publicly oppose the government's suggestions on online snooping. I have linked to a letter in The Independent of which I was one of the signatories.

There is another letter in The Guardian. I don't know why my name doesn't appear in the letter in The Guardian, but to me it is important to record that I have publicly opposed such an extension of state surveillance.

I personally don't mind CCTV in shopping centres. However, the government's proposals were clearly completely wrong.
 
Monday, April 02, 2012
  Mitt Romney - a Physicists viewpoint
The link is to a New York times analysis of Mitt Romney which any physicist will find quite amusing.

eg
Complementarity. In much the same way that light is both a particle and a wave, Mitt Romney is both a moderate and a conservative, depending on the situation (Fig. 1). It is not that he is one or the other; it is not that he is one and then the other. He is both at the same time.
 
  Snooping proposal - not one I can support
I initially thought the proposal to track everyone's emails for a couple of years was an April Fool. Sadly it appears not to be.

Just because something is technically possible is no reason why government should implement it. I suppose we could insert a microchip in everyone's skull to record where they are and put this in a big database that can be accessed by a warrant.

That may be technically feasible, but is not something I would support. Nor are the reports of the proposals from government.
 
Sunday, April 01, 2012
  Sunday's telegraph on George Hibbert
The link is to another mother's story about George Hibbert and comments by one of his erstwhile employees.

This story about the abuse of the hague convention, however, is more of a live issue.
 

Click Here for access to higher resolution versions of the photos The license for use allows use of the photos by media as long as they are attributed.

better brent chart

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