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Showing posts from August, 2012

Its Energy Prices Stupid!

The normal phrase is "its the economy stupid". However, unless a country is an energy exporter in a large way in fact "its energy prices stupid". I have obtained figures from the Library to calculate the marginal rate at which an increase in the price of energy reduces economic activity. I did speak about this in the house earlier this year. However, I haven't yet found the time to do the analysis. It remains, however, that as energy prices (and particularly oil prices as that is the marginal source of energy) go up then economic activity is held back. We make the mistake thinking of growth rather than activity. Obviously some forms of economic activity use less energy than other forms. In a world with a constrained energy supply those forms of economic activity need to be encouraged. You will see on the right of my blog a couple of charts. It is possible to see the effect on oil prices in the USA of Shale Gas (it has knocked about USD 20 off a barrel

Samsung, Apple and International Law

This Story about Samsung shares dropping following a patent case highlights some interesting questions. I haven't studied the details of the cases around the world, but superficially it appears that the US Courts have found for Apple and non-US courts have found for Samsung. If this is true then in itself it raises questions about the differential effect of the rule of law in different countries. I do study this for the purposes of family law as should become clear in a few days. However, it is not something we can ignore as if it stands up to detailed scrutiny - which of course it might not - it raises concerns about the enforcement of court orders from one country in another. The activity of Argentina in the energy sector is a good example of a clearly wrong decision of one country and its legal system and how that should be responded to by other countries. I tend to take a more robust approach on this than many. There are also questions about the BBC report as to whether

The RSPCA and "home for life"

The Advertising Standards Authority have today published their adjudication about the RSPCA's "home for life" adverts. The ASA take the view that people do not need to be told that a proportion of the animals taken by the RSPCA under "home for life" are euthanased by the RSPCA even if they are rehomeable. The background to this is that a constituent of mine had some dogs taken by the RSPCA - because they thought she had too many dogs.  She later found that the RSPCA had put them down.   Her concern was that had she known this she could have rehomed the dogs herself and it was not clear on the form that she completed that they were likely to put the dogs down without referring to her. The "home for life" scheme advert can be seen here . We have obtained the paperwork from the RSPCA about "home for life" and it also does not make it clear that the RSPCA do euthanise some of the dogs that they take in even if they are rehomeable. My c

Guest Post from Sarah Thompson

John Hemming has discussed music performers and digital copyright in the past, and today Sarah Thompson advances the conversation by considering the seminal court cases in the debate over copyright issues in the digital age. You can read more from Sarah at the online resource where she frequently writes, which covers industry topics like how music production careers have evolved in the last two decades . The Problems Protecting Music Production and Copyright in the Digital Age Recent changes in technology have made it easier than ever to share and copy content, particularly music. The United State Copyright Act governs all of these transactions, but not comprehensively. Most provisions of the act were framed in a time when digital innovations could never have been imagined. Lawyers and lawmakers have struggled to stretch existing provisions to fit new and growing capabilities, with mixed results. Today’s music copyright landscape is mired in pitfalls, and defined by an ever-

Callaghan's speech from 1976

I noticed in The Telegraph a report of James Callaghan's speech in 1976 when he basically said that Labour's current plan of an increase in the deficit to increase demand would not work. I have found the original speech here . We used to think that you could spend your way out of a recession, and increase employ­ment by cutting taxes and boosting Government spending. I tell you in all candour that that option no longer exists, and that in so far as it ever did exist, it only worked on each occasion since the war by injecting a bigger dose of infla­tion into the economy, followed by a higher level of unemployment as the next step. Higher inflation followed by higher unemployment. We have just escaped from the highest rate of inflation this country has known; we have not yet escaped from the consequences: high unemployment. That is the history of the last 20 years. Each time we did this the twin evils of unemployment and inflation have hit hardest those least able to stand the

Rohingya and Assange

The saga about Julian Assange may be entertaining for the media and it is clear that the UK should not take the step of raiding a foreign embassy (even in the roundabout way of declaring it not to be an embassy first). However, the treatment of the Rohingya in Myanmar (Burma) should have a much higher media profile. I raised the latter issue with the Foreign Secretary some weeks ago, but I suppose in terms of the relative media profiles twas ever thus.

Shale Gas and Peak Oil

Shale Gas will not have a direct effect on Peak Oil because Peak Oil relates to Oil. It will, however, have an effect on peak hydrocarbons (and there is also some condensate). The difficulty is assessing what effect it has. Key issues are for example that depletion rates for shale gas (possibly 48% in Haynesville) are higher than historic conventional natural gas. (20%) This presentation looks at some of the issues:

Wrong Children taken into care - Aalihya Jordon-Fellows.

Today the Birmingham Safeguarding Board released a serious case review into the death of Aahliya Jordon-Fellows. Quoting from the website: " The review found that the death could and should have been prevented by a more robust application of safeguarding procedures by all agencies involved." My view for some time has been that the wrong children were taken into care. The case of Khyra Ishaq was an obvious one in which no-one was seeing the child. On the other hand stroppy home educating parents - whose children are seen by others and hence are known to be OK - tend to find themselves the target of child protection proceedings. The case of Aahliya Jordon-Fellows is in one sense a straighforward one where someone known to be a risk to children (her Uncle) was given her care and found guilty of her manslaughter. What I am trying to do with the Family Justice Bill amongst other things is get greater academic consideration of child protection proceedings so that the reall

A story of international baby stealing

This story is where social workers from Norfolk ignored the law and went to France to get a baby. The phrase "habitual residence" determines which country is responsible for child protection. I am not aware of any country that makes as many absurd decisions as England. Most other countries make decisions that are about what is best for the child rather than what is best for the local authority targets. If the parents are "habitually resident" in another country when the baby is born then the authorities here do not have any legal power to take the child. That did not stop them in the linked case, but at least the High Court got the law right even if the lower court did not. Congratulations are due to Brendan Fleming Solicitors for fighting the case properly.