One man's reminder to the Ninth Circuit Court of what America's about: Mary Young Pickersgill's Banner
Now WorldCom. The use of sticks and carrots to influence behaviour must be as old as mankind. So why the shock, horror and surprise at the revelations of "mis-accounting" by major American businesses? Of course it's wrong, but the miscreants are responding to powerful incentives, and hoping to get away with it.
Thirty years ago, Wall Street started to preach that the primary responsibility of the chief executive officer (CEO) was to maximise "shareholder value", which meant share price as determined by the market, applying its own criteria. To help concentrate the minds of the CEO and those around him or her, increasingly large parcels of share options were added to their remuneration, to the point where many executives can now literally make fortunes in a few years. Some carrots.
The sticks include loss of job if you fail to please "the Street" in short order - so short that the average tenure of Fortune 500 CEOs is now less than three years. No jokes about executives with strategic vision, please.
And what the Street likes to see is relentless growth in income and profit. If by chance real business conditions aren't buoyant enough to achieve that, what is management going to do to protect job and fortune? Enter creative accounting. Eventually it must come to light, but there's a good chance of getting away with your golden handshake and options proceeds safely banked before the auditors find out or, as we now learn, others find out about the auditors not having found out.
Until the accepted wisdom changes to recognise that business is a human societal activity, that other constituencies than shareholders have serious interests in businesses and that management's responsibility is to build businesses that are successful in the terms of those constituencies, we shall continue to see disasters.
The distortions caused by Wall Street's and the City's obsession with "shareholder value" have resulted in disastrous reductions in research and development investment, in the "letting go" of hundreds of thousands of expensively recruited and trained people, in the undermining of supplier relationships and the redefinition of business as a purely economic activity.
This is destruction of real, durable shareholder asset value on a grand scale, and the impoverishment of the society on which business relies for its existence.
As we all suffer from Wall Street's "wisdom" and its City followers, the last eyebrows to be raised should belong to those who work there.
A (forthcoming) comprehensive review of the impact of CCTV [Welsh and Farrington] concludes that the overall reduction in crime amounts to a figure of five per cent. A parallel systematic review carried out by the Home Office looking at the impact of street lighting found a 20 per cent reduction.
SCHUMANN: Your education has enabled you to see things different from those who have not had that education. You should understand, I'm not being an apologist for the behaviour that happens amongst some of the errant minority in my community but you have to have an understanding of the psychology. You have to understand the psychological effects and the damage done by a poor educational system.
PAXMAN: Hang on, he is the psychiatrist.
Now wait a minute. What exactly is the net result of this endemic racism? Does it have a material effect on the way justice operates or doesn't it? Having sprayed slurs far and wide over every agency and institution of society, from the press to the police, for perpetrating "stereotypical assumptions", not to mention every benign well-meaning individual citizen for being a closet bigot, Sir David then tells us that none of this counts for a row of beans in the end, because no "wrong result" has followed as a consequence.
This ideology of death is not then the product of hope denied, but hope fed. Fed not just by money and arms from neighbours, but fed, above all, by the folly of the West. The hope that terror will bring concessions, the hope that the West is weakening, the hope that fanaticism will prevail, is daily reinforced. That hope is nurtured by movement towards a Palestinian state which is accelerated, not delayed, by bombing. It is encouraged by news that decisive action against one sponsor of terror, Iraq, has been delayed. It is supported by news that the world’s most energetic sponsor of terror, Iran, is to be appeased by the granting of EU trade privileges.
It is also advanced by the moral confusion which suicide bombing has produced among Western elites. The campaign has been designed to obscure the wickedness of ethnic mass murder by seeking to place the killer on the same moral plain as his targets — both are to be seen as “victims”.
But that is only true in the sense that a Khmer Rouge, Waffen SS or Interahamwe footsoldier and those he slaughters are “equally” victims of totalitarianism. One is implementing an ideology of death, the others are that ideology’s necessary sacrifices. To contextualise the acts of the killers by arguing that they have no hope, to see “nobility” in their blitheness about the consequences as they take others’ lives, is to locate moral reasoning in individuals who wish to erase the most fundamental moral principle — respect for life itself.
We thus begin to see the final account for that decision by Edward Heath in 1973 to hand over waters that contain four-fifths of Europe's fish stocks. Within a few years it is likely that we will be left with only a very small fleet, with rights to catch anything round our shores entirely controlled by Brussels.
Our chief remaining interest will be that we will be expected to provide and pay for a fleet of fisheries protection vessels, to enforce Brussels policies under Brussels direction. Any Royal Navy ships still involved will be required to have non-British officials on board telling them what to do.
British ministers will also have one further duty. Each time a new country joins the EU, they will have to sign a "designation order" giving its fishing vessels rights of access to the waters round our shores out to 200 miles, since under international law these are still British.
But doubtless this is an anomaly that Mr Blair could offer to sort out when, after Gibraltar, he is looking for something else to give away.
Anecdotal evidence is more conclusive than official statistics when officials deliberately distort them to suit their masters' agendas. For example, it is now common practice for police officicials to downgrade crimes across the board (from murder to manslaughter, for example) in order to improve their performance statistics and justify the prison empire US reactionaries have constructed.
Garbage in, garbage out. One has to make sure that official statistics are accurate and honest, before one can make pompous pronouncements about the superiority of results obtained from them. Look at all the 'scientific' data that came out of the Vietnam War, or from the Soviet Union, for that matter, before it collapsed. To declare those data reliable, even though one knows they are not (it's either that, or you don't know what you're talking about) is to betray science that much more, and make it even less likely that the public trusts or consults it next time around. Perhaps that's the ultimate goal of your obvious prevarication, to make science totally unbelievable, and throw us all back into the Dark Ages? The reactionaries would be pleased.
It was the phoniest bit of logic I've ever read. Rehabiliate criminals? I don't think so. Most of those in jail are there because they have low IQs and there is nothing that prison can do about that. And over-whelmingly those in prison both in the US and in the Britain are minorities, and especially blacks. If America was serious about crime we would do what we should have done a long time ago. Repatriate almost all blacks back to Africa. Our crime rate would drop by at least half and we could reclaim our cities. Britain almost had no crime until it started importing it with all kinds of immigrants who prey on the native population of whites. Deport them, make Britain white again, and the crime rate will drop. Duh!
[The draft Bill] included new powers allowing the Home Secretary for the first time to deprive someone born a British citizen of his or her citizenship
The Secretary of State may by order deprive a person of a citizenship status if the Secretary of State thinks that the person has doen anything seriously prejudicial to the vital interests of (a) the United Kingdom or (b) a British overseas territory.
'Many people find this film shocking,' said Moore. 'But it is the reality of what we are dealing with. The centre of Brixton is a 24-hour crack supermarket. We have 15 dealers during the day and up to 20 throughout the night. They each sell 100 rocks per week at £10 a time. It means the centre of Brixton alone is a crack market worth £12 million each year. The level of demand means that even if we arrested 1,000 dealers, they'd be replaced by 1,000 new ones the next day.'
When the cannabis experiment was launched by the outspoken Metropolitan Police Commander Brian Paddick, it was hailed as a brave step by the pro-drugs lobby but seen as a blow to law and order by others who feared it would lead to a relaxation of attitudes towards harder drugs. Paddick himself said: 'I have never known anyone commit crime to fund a cannabis habit.'
In recent weeks, criticism of the experiment from the community and the police themselves has risen. Locals have reported incidents of children as young as 10 under the effects of cannabis. Some children are said to have turned up at school stoned while there have been instances of children whose parents are dealers being employed as couriers and rewarded with cannabis.
A recent Mori poll found that while half of all white residents in Brixton supported the experiment, the majority of black and Asian residents opposed it.
Fuller believes this is because the white middle classes have a rose-tinted view of drug-taking and do not see the problems that are caused in the same way as ethnic communities do.
Since the experiment began last July, there has been a 13 per cent increase in the number of cannabis dealers travelling to Brixton to sell their wares. Drug dealing offences in the borough have risen by 11 per cent and recorded cases of cannabis possession by 34 per cent.
What seems to most concern local people, however, is that by relaxing attitudes to cannabis, police have given a signal to all drug dealers that they have nothing to fear.
'The police have abandoned the streets to the dealers,' said Reverend Ivelaw Bowman of St Andrew's Church. 'You cannot use the bus stop at the top of Coldharbour Lane or the nearby telephone boxes because they have been taken over by the dealers. They sell drugs openly and without fear, even though you cannot move for CCTV cameras there. And it is the same people day after day. The law is not being enforced and the question everyone in the community wants an answer to is this: if we can see it, why can't the police?'
There are other worrying signs. The standard indicator for the size and health of any drug market is street price. When drugs are in short supply, the price goes up - when they are plentiful, it falls. Since the experiment began, the price of cannabis had climbed from £27 per ounce to £30. Over the same period of time, the price of crack cocaine has fallen.
Moreover, a child from social class V is five times more likely to be killed on the roads than a child from social class I. As the higher-income groups are more likely to drive fast (partly because they have higher-powered vehicles and more appointments), the car has become an instrument that allows the rich to kill the poor.
[Socialism] is no longer a brand that sells. French voters know not only what they are sick of but what they positively want: lower taxes, less street crime, more realism — and less political correctness — on immigration, and less bureaucratic interference. Not the least of the sensible Jean-Pierre Raffarin’s appeal is the new Prime Minister’s promise to “simplify life”. Mr Blair has bucked the rightward trend — and indignantly, and in my view correctly, rebuts left-wing criticism that he has done so only by betraying the “socialist ideal”. Britain, teeming once again with regulations and form-filling on everything from small business and farmers to teachers and doctors, is more like continental Europe than it was before 1997. M Raffarin’s message could be potent here too.
People want less, too, of what the Italians call the snobismo of the Left. Voters are tired of sermons, whether about social inclusion or “building Europe”. It is at home that they want the spadework done. They want government that works — and that listens to what they want rather than telling them what they ought to want. They also want politicians who are not afraid to talk about the national interest — almost taboo on the Left. So they are veering back to the Centre Right whose historical reputation for competence is the reason why, the past few years apart, it has dominated European politics for half a century.
In Britain the privileged enjoy access to high-quality health care while the majority rely on sub-standard services. You are the fourth largest economy in the world, but you allow tens of thousands of your people to die from cancer when they would survive in Germany. You acclaim a system that has put the disadvantaged and the inarticulate at the bottom of the health-care heap and kept them there.
Every British family already funds a lifetime of healthcare, but it has no real say over how the money is spent. Hospitals and GPs depend on the system for their income, not their own patients. The only way to make providers more responsive is to give back to consumers the power to buy their own care.
That is why reform of funding of is essential. Social insurance schemes give patients the power of choice and the status of customers whom healthcare providers have to satisfy. No one is excluded. The disadvantaged receive assistance with premiums, making them – for the first time – purchasers with equal rights to the rich. Since the public have a free choice of doctor or hospital, the patient-doctor relationship is restored. Hospital staff no longer feel like political pawns. Everyone wins.
There are a host of other unstated assumptions which the likes of Ms Booth make about life and which they consider above argument: the view that somehow they do things better in Europe; that anyone who opposes greater european integration is a xenophobe; that it is our role to 'civilise' the hick Americans; that selective education is somehow morally inferior to comprehensive education (even if they have to resort to it for their own kids); and that the NHS is the only morally respectable form of healthcare provision.
The last ice age ended about 10,000 years ago. Temperatures rose to the ‘Holocene Maximum’ of about 5,000 years ago when it was about 3°F higher than now, dropped in the time of Christ, and then rose to the ‘Mediaeval Climate Optimum’ of about 600 ad to 1100 ad, when temperatures were about 2°F higher than now. This was a golden age for northern European agriculture and led to the rise of Viking civilisation. Greenland, now a frozen wasteland, was then a habitable Viking colony. There were vineyards in the south of England. Then temperatures dropped to ‘The Little Ice Age’ in the 1600s, when the Thames froze over. And they have been rising slowly ever since, although they are still much lower than 1,000 years ago. We are now living in a rather cool period.
What caused these ups and downs of temperature? We do not know. Temperature changes are a fact of nature, and we have no idea if the postulated 0.5°F heating over the last 100 years is caused by man’s activities or is simply part of a natural cycle. What we can say, though, is that if Europe heats up by 2°F it would do it a power of good. We can see this from records of 1,000 years ago. Moreover, increased carbon dioxide makes plants grow more quickly, so improving crops and forests.
The Earth’s climate is immensely complicated, far beyond our present powers of understanding and the calculating powers of modern computers. Changes in phase from ice to water to vapour; cloud formation; convection; ocean currents; winds; changes in the sun; the complicated shapes of the land masses; the ability of the oceans to absorb carbon dioxide — all of these and a thousand other factors operating with small differences over vast masses and distances make it practically impossible for us to make predictions about long-term climate patterns, and perhaps make such predictions inherently impossible. The computer models that the global warmers now use are ludicrously oversimplified, and it is no surprise that they have made one wrong prediction after another.
For the past 200 years or so, the peoples of Europe have had an unpleasant tendency to take to the streets and kill one another when the political arguments became too heated. Finding a systematic way to avoid this was a matter of some urgency if civil order was to be maintained.
Over the same period, while Continental Europe convulsed itself repeatedly in revolution and terror, the British, to their enormous credit, managed to carry on their parliamentary disagreements without violence, and often with lucidity, wit and intellectual dexterity. Adversarial politics should be a source of national pride, not shame.
As for Tony Blair's infatuation with the American presidency, this is a peculiar sort of fantasy for a man who clearly wants more control over events rather than less. The American President may have some very impressive rigamarole of office, but his country's constitution leaves him almost powerless at the hands of an unco-operative Congress.
The will of a prime minister with a large majority such as Mr Blair's is unstoppable. He is subject to none of the checks and balances that constrain the American executive. (But surely Mr Blair knows this. So what is he really after? Just the ego-boosting folderol of a presidency? Or a drastic re-working of the British constitution along the lines of the 18th-century American one? I am in the dark here. There is some evidence for both possibilities.)
This is not the London I grew up in, and loved. That was a city where I could go alone to school at the age of six, if necessary; a place where you knew you could find a policeman if something scary happened (which it did, from time to time, of course, because the past is not a halcyon dream). Last night, I said to my husband that I wanted to leave London, even though we were both born here. "But we'd still be running away," he said.
And he's right (even though fright tends to make conviction waver). Why should we be forced to leave our home, our friends, our work, the threads that weave our small world together? But how, exactly, do you live in a city where running scared is now an ordinary fact of life?
Incidentally, I wonder when was the last time that Tony Blair - that shiny happy man I voted for five years ago - travelled on the Tube, or his wife parked a car in a place where there might be a nightmare in the shadows.
I think, perhaps, that their city is no longer mine; that my fears are not theirs; and that the common ground that politicians should share with the rest of us has eroded into nothingness. And in that space, perhaps, exists a shifting, suspicious landscape, which some of us call London.
the very act of blowing oneself up surely should be taken as proof of hopelesness.
He’s proposed a sweeping centralisation of the nation’s constabulary in his Police Reform Bill which would reverse the trend of successful law enforcement policy across the Western world. While the globe’s most effective police forces, such as New York, rely on devolution of responsibility and neighbourhood autonomy to tackle crime, Mr Blunkett wants to second-guess, meddle, interfere and regulate from his desk in Whitehall. These centralising proposals have been roundly denounced in the Lords by an alliance of Tory, Lib Dem, and independent peers. And hardly surprising too. Never mind the illiberal principle behind Mr Blunkett’s plans, just look at the incompetent practice in his running of the Home Office so far. If the man can’t even frame a single new law without cocking it up, how can he be trusted to supervise the enforcement of all those we already have? But those in the grip of Enronitis don’t think, or indeed act, straight. Over-extended yourself dangerously? Then go further still. Initiatives running into the sand? Then rev up the announcement-count even further. We’ve had 55 gimmicks and counting since Mr Blunkett arrived at the Home Office, one for almost every week in the job. And the result? Crime set to go up by 6 per cent, the biggest increase for ten years.
[The PM] stressed the central principle: "That above all, the time has come to re-balance the system so that we restore the faith of victims and witnesses, that the court hearing will be fair to all participants and so that we restore their confidence that a criminal will be brought to justice.
"To achieve that shift we need major reform. We need clearer, simpler rules of evidence that trust the common-sense and decency of judge and jury." Mr Blair said cases should be in the best state they could before trial, "by involving the CPS from the outset."
"We need to look again at the double jeopardy rule, in place to prevent people being tried twice for the same crime. For serious offences if there is overwhelming new evidence that implicates the accused again, they should go back to court. That is the case in Germany, Finland and Denmark. If it makes sense there, it should make sense here too."
Mr Blair said the prosecution should be able to challenge a judge's decision to stop a trial on technical grounds in all courts, promised major investment in IT across the system and work to make sentencing help reduce reoffending with better post-release supervision of all those leaving prison.
He also said he wanted more power devolved to local police chief superintendents, "the commanders closest to the problems of each neighbourhood". He said: "Some of our reforms will be controversial. Many rules of evidence and other procedures were introduced to prevent miscarriages of justice, and protections for the defendant must remain.
"But it's a miscarriage of justice when delays and time-wasting deny victims justice for months on end. It's a miscarriage of justice when the police see their hard work and bravery thrown away by courts who let a mugger out on bail for the seventh or eighth time to offend again or when courts don't have the secure places to put people.
"And it's perhaps the biggest miscarriage of justice in today's system when the guilty walk away unpunished. A modernised criminal justice system demands justice for all and we are on course to deliver it."
The authors of the document "Vision Europe 2020 - Reinventing Europe 2005-2020" are convinced there are now only two possible choices for Europe: The one they present or an anti-democratic and xenophobic national-Europeanism leading to a certain “death of European integration as a historic project.”
St George’s flag flies high this week, but in a survey, 83 per cent of English people did not know the date of St George’s Day. Nearly 70 per cent, however, wanted a Bank Holiday whenever it was.
Western society is infected by a powerful sense of self-loathing and a rejection of its political, social and economic achievements. It was this spirit of self-loathing that led some, of the left and right alike, to suggest that America got what it deserved on 11 September. Those sentiments are no more progressive when aimed against Israel as a symbol of the west than when they are directed in irrational campaigns against GM crops and the literature of Dead White Males.
We may feel solidarity with the Palestinians, but that is no reason to endorse the anti-imperialism of fools. Populist anti-Israeli rhetoric is cheap, but it offers no solutions - especially when it ends with a demand for even more western intervention in the affairs of the Middle East. The long-suffering peoples of the region deserve better than to be used by those looking for somewhere convenient to strike sanctimonious poses.
Stripped of the capacity to manipulate the economy - by the global markets and the rules of the European Union - politicians can't keep their hands off the schools. They should relax the pressure, allow education to breathe again and let children enjoy childhood again.
"Nothing is so strong a tie of amity between nation and nation as correspondence in law, customs, manners and habits of life. They have more than the force of treaties in themselves. They are obligations written in the heart."
I am no stranger to the need for accurate, timely and verifiable intelligence, having served 19 years in a branch of the Services concerned with military intelligence and afterwards working on IT systems involved with criminal and similar intelligence.
The extensions proposed by the Government to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (report, June 12) are unjustifiable. The sort of intelligence that can be obtained from when and where phone calls have been made, e-mail exchanges, and which computer sites have been visited (loosely defined as traffic analysis) should not, and must not, be available to the organisations the Government wishes to extend it to. There is absolutely no reason why the Food Standards Agency, local authorities or any of the other proposed bodies need access to this type of information.
Any necessary investigations must be carried out by the police or other agencies that the Act already covers. The thought that a local authority, in particular, will obtain this sort of information is very frightening. Local authority staff do not receive the same level of security clearance and vetting as current users of this information and the opportunity for corruption is unlimited. Secondly, the all-encompassing reasons for obtaining such information mean that it would be open to abuse for political ends.
This Government has proved that it cannot be trusted with even the most basic information about individuals. Who knows what injustices and persecutions will follow when a politically motivated local council obtains information about individuals and groups with which it disagrees.
I have always justified the collection of intelligence about individuals on the ground that it is handled by, in the main, apolitical, cleared and vetted individuals with a need to know. I am no longer convinced that this is the case. This Act must be repealed, not extended.
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CBS reports, "There is a new security alert on tonight. It has this country's gatekeepers keeping a close eye on a particular group of travelers." CBS (Orr) continues, "It is one of the most specific security alerts to be issued since September 11. The Immigration and Naturalization Service has ordered that all Yemeni nationals, except those carrying diplomatic passports, be searched before entering or leaving the United States. An INS memo, obtained by CBS News, directs agents at US airports, borders, and ports, to do a complete and thorough search of all baggage carried by Yemeni travelers, and make an inventory of all effects. The memo specifically orders agents to look for large sums of currency, thermos bottles, night vision goggles or devices, and warns under no circumstances will an inspecting officer open a thermos bottle. The order was given last Thursday, after a recent raid, somewhere in the northeast, of an apartment housing a number of Yemeni nationals. Law enforcement officers discovered dozens of thermos bottles, some rigged with batteries. Wire was also found, components, authorities say, that could have been used in manufacturing bombs. One source said the recovery of materials and the ensuing alert are not connected to any known plot or specific threat, but Yemen has been a haven for Al Qaeda operatives. Just 11 months before the attack on America, the USS Cole was bombed in a Yemen port. Officials haven't said whether anyone has been detained as a result of this latest security memo. But authorities make it clear what began with a simple discovery of thermos bottles, is now a potential threat they take seriously."
Under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, two dozen ministries and quangos will be able to obtain communications records. Although they will not see the contents of communications - something that requires a warrant - they will be able to insist that internet service providers, telephone companies and postal operators hand over the information.
This can include names and addresses of customers, their service use records, details of who has called whom, mobile phone locations accurate to within 100 metres and the sources and destinations of emails.
Even without knowing the content of the communications, such information would be sufficient for a ministry or other public sector organisation to track and thwart attempts by campaigners, journalists or members of the public to uncover information. The legislation caused controversy when it went through Parliament two years ago. Then, the Government said the information would be available only to the police, customs, intelligence agencies and the Inland Revenue.
However, secondary legislation tabled last month and to be debated by MPs next week has added substantially to that list. Seven Whitehall departments, every local authority, health bodies in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and 11 other public bodies are now included.
In accepting his K, Jagger is acknowledging that monarchy and meritocracy do mix and incarnating what every Rolling Stone has long known — there’s nothing wrong with a hard, crazed, knight.
One important question to which I haven't seen the answer: Will there be some civilian court screening of whether there's indeed very strong evidence to think that a detainee really is an enemy combatant, and thus properly subject to military detention and perhaps (if he's a noncitizen, or if he's a citizen and the rules are changed) military trial? It's one thing to say "enemy soldiers must be subject to military law" -- but quite another to say "people, including U.S. citizens, who are believed by the military to be enemy soldiers must be subject to military law," especially when we leave the easy case of soldiers captured on the field of battle.
As Mr. Bush noted, in a statement that is sobering if not chilling in its implications, "America has, and intends to keep, military strengths beyond challenge — thereby making the destabilizing arms races of other eras pointless, and limiting rivalries to trade and other pursuits of peace." What Mr. Bush is saying here is that the United States will never allow a "peer competitor" (in the international relations lingo) to arise. We will never again be in a position of "superpower rivalry," let alone a cog in a multilateral balance of power. The current vast imbalance in power promotes peace most effectively because it teaches governments that any aspirations they might have to pursue war are "pointless."
CBS (6/10, story 10, Rather) reports, "The foremost English-speaking expert on" Al Qaeda, "in an exclusive interview...reveals tonight that Al Qaeda's original 9/11 plan included more targets and more destruction." CBS (Phillips) adds that Rohan Gunaratna's "new book, 'Inside Al Qaeda,' will be published later this week. Among its other revelations is the fact that the September 11th attacks were supposed to be even bigger, targeting the British Houses of Parliament as well, in an international display of terrorism's reach, and attacking them in the same way." Gunaratna was shown saying, "This team assembled at the Heathrow airport on 9/11 to conduct an airborne suicide attack on the Houses of Parliament." CBS adds, "But, Gunaratna says, the Al Qaeda operatives hadn't planned on one contingency: That after the US attacks all flights would be grounded." Gunaratna was shown saying, "The Al Qaeda team that went to Heathrow Airport had to return because there were no flights taking off. ... The testimony of this man, Afroz Mohammed, is cited as proof of the planned attack. He was arrested in India after fleeing Britain and, in an Indian security services document obtained by CBS News, admitted to the hijack plan. In his research, Gunaratna studied intelligence documents, and had rare access to serving and former members of Osama bin Laden's organization. ... What Gunaratna says he's learned, and what American intelligence failed to understand, is Al Qaeda's 'lose and learn' doctrine. It was prepared to lose terrorists like Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, the 1993 World Trade Center bomber, in order to learn how to carry out the attack successfully the next time. And, Gunaratna says, Al Qaeda is still operating and still planning."
A dirty bomb makes no practical sense. To produce significant radioactivity over an area of, say, one square mile, the concentration within a small bomb would have to be roughly 10 million times greater and would quickly kill the terrorists trying to assemble the material. The radioactivity also creates large amounts of heat energy, sufficient to melt most containers. What's more, any such bomb would be easy to detect at long distance if it emits gamma rays. We therefore conclude that a dirty bomb is mostly hype.
Unemployment figures had been falling, which was a good thing not least because as the bills of social failure went down it meant we had more money to spend on public services, for example.
The truth is, the greens have lost the argument about GM crops in every country where there is a fair fight. Last year, five million farmers grew GM crops, up from three million the year before. Only by destroying the test sites in this country can terrorists and their organic fellow travellers suppress the truth and keep up the pretence that GM is bad for the environment.
Where GM crops have been planted, the use of sprays has gone down dramatically and the effect on birds and insects has been positive. If only the organic movement had been less blinkered, it could have seen that genetic modification was its saviour, not its devil. It threatens to replace conventional, chemical-using agriculture with a constitutive, biological and therefore, by definition, organic form of farming.
The first thing is to take Mr Miliband's one good idea - less government intervention - as far as it can go. Pare the vast expenditure of local education authorities right back, or even get rid of them altogether.
Let head teachers control their own spending. Keep teacher training to the classroom and make huge savings on teacher-training institutions. Tear up the national curriculum. Get rid of the Orwellian bodies - the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority and the Standards and Effectiveness Unit - that do little to maintain standards.
As Chris Woodhead recommends in his book Class War, the Government should have nothing more to do with schools after funding them, except to assess their performance and let parents examine those assessments. The picture of education in this country need not be one of gloom and despair.
The Centre Right has a responsibility to ... reassert our values and press them into the service of those whose need is greatest. That means trusting people, not second-guessing them. It means understanding that communities are made by men and women, they are not man-made. It means understanding that better schools and hospitals and more responsive local government come from giving teachers, doctors, nurses and councillors the power to do their jobs and making them accountable for what they do.