Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Lord Mandelson and Mr Brown

Lots of media coverage about a parting of the ways between Lord Mandelson and the Prime Minister. Lord Mandelson seems always to be involved in some skulduggery and backbiting. Being one of his friends is a dangerous privilege. This little spat looked to be fairly innocuous, until today's announcement about Higher Education funding. The BBC are reporting that the Business Secretary has written to the Higher Education Funding Council for England, informing them that the budget for higher education next year will be almost £400 million less than this year. Lots of questions follow this announcement. I'll draw attention to just two of them.

Firstly, the fact that Lord Mandelson has made this £400 million 'cut' public is significant. It totally undermines the Prime Minister's strategy of fighting the coming General Election on the basis of 'Tory cuts' against 'Labour investment'. Admittedly, it will not have huge impact immediately before Christmas, but its out there now. Watch the David Lammy interview on the BBC link, to observe ministerial discomfort. He sounds like a schoolboy after being caught with his hand in the sweet jar. Personally, I applaud Lord Mandelson for his action. Its not that I necessarily support his 'cut' in higher education funding, (I don't) but he has injected some honesty into the debate about future public spending. No meaningful debate can take place whilst the Government carries on misleading us all about the need for spending reduction. The honest debate we need is 'where the axe falls', not whether. Gordon Brown must be spitting nails today - again.

And then, there's the impact on Wales. Lord Mandelson's announcement applies to England only, but application of the Barnett Formula will deliver a proportional cut in the block of money available to the National Assembly Government. Don't know how much this will be, but 5% of £400 million is £20 million. Its unlikely that the whole Assembly block reduction will be passed on to education, because of a commitment to this sector made by Carwyn Jones, the First Minister. But it will have to come from somewhere. I hear peals of laughter and sighs of relief from an allotment somewhere in Cardiff West. Whatever, Lord Mandelson has drawn back the curtain a little on what's in store for us all.


collath said...

Wasn't Gordon Brown planning to give away over a billion to corrupt (as in "in my back pocket please") regimes - like their despotic leaders who torture and ruin their own people really care about saving their people from global warming? Take the £400 million 'cut' from that billion or so - all that billion or so of British tax payers' money will go on (or rather "into") off-shore bank a/cs and posh houses in the capitals of Europe and elsewhere, what can a few hundred million buy in central Paris? Maybe a nice house in Las Vegas, and one in LA, SF, NYC, London, Rome etc.

puronic said...

"Love Actually" between Brown and Mandy - fills inches of copy.

Frankly, frank if I might be frank Frank. The media should be focusing more on the economy and results - particularly in Wales. The Echo/Western Mail ('MediaWales') are hardly picking up on how Welsh Labour has let down Wales with a GVA rating that is 25% below the UK average.

While we are on the subject of the 'Higher Education Funding Council for England', the equivalent body in Wales has 'resulted' in a situation wherein Wales does not have a single university ranked in the world's top 100 whereas Scotland has three universities in the world's top 100 universities (with one ranked #20); contrast that to Wales with Cardiff University ranked at #135, and Swansea et al are in the 300-400 range (i.e., no where).

So Welsh Labour/Plaid have delivered a Welsh economy that is at the bottom of the UK barrel, a university setup that is ranked 'nowhere man', a patent filing rate that 'beggars belief', and according to a recent report by Prof. Dylan-Jones the "Welsh economy makes loss on spending on innovation".

... and we hear what in the way of solutions from Welsh Labour/Plaid? Deafening silence.

How's your bladder? said...

Hmmmm, anyone noticed how quiet things have got on the terrorist front?

Perhaps I shouldn't mention this - not around Christmas and close to the New Year celebrations. But I have a hunch that an Awad bin Laden's al-Qaida or affiliated group is planning another in-flight airliner outrage.

I suspect they have been on a steep learning curve (re: liquid explosives in bottles of "After-Shave" or similar bottles to camouflage the contents) and come up with surgical implants in the form of binary bladders - elastic containers - probably spherical with an outlet line fitted with a small plastic clamp, the outlet lines linked to the urethra.

Each artificial elastic bladder contains a stable chemical compound but when mixed forms a deadly unstable chemical reaction mixture. Simply peeing into a toilet on an airliner could lead to catastrophic results. The walls of the elastic bladder provide positive pressure to force the contents of the artificial bladder into the suicide bombers urethra – just removing a downstream small plastic clamp would lead to quick release of the bladder contents.

In the alternative, a single partitioned bladder could be surgically planted inside the host’s body, and upon compromising the dividing wall(s) inside the artificial bladder an explosive chemical reaction ensues.

I am pretty certain that bin Laden's mob are working on this. This simple technology would easily get through passenger check points at airports. The kit would be 100% plastic so metal detectors would be rendered moot. Conventionally trained sniffer dogs would have low probability of detection.

Such in-body 'arrangements' would be hard to detect using current technology deployed at airports. Suicide bombers could compromise several Transatlantic flights at more or less the same time. I hope our security boys/girls are a step ahead on this bladder tech.

alanindyfed said...

A Time for Rejoicing! - Let us all rejoice, for this is the last Christmas with New Labour in government in Britain. May they remain in the Wilderness for all time.....

alanindyfed said...

"The honest debate we need is 'where the axe falls', not whether. Gordon Brown must be spitting nails today - again."
I think we know where the axe should fall...

talwin said...

"...he has injected some honesty into the debate..."

Christ, Mandelson injecting some honesty into anything. Just think, years ahead we'll be able to say, 'It's true, we were there when it happened!'

How's your bladder? said...

Following on from my hunch of Thursday Dec 24 as reported on Glyn’s thread, “Lord Mandelson and Mr Brown” …

“The suspect later told the US authorities he had had explosive powder taped to his leg and used a syringe of chemicals to mix with the powder that was to cause explosion, the ABC television network reports.” Source: BBC ‘news-report’ at 03:42 GMT, Saturday, 26 December 2009.

So a binary setup – mixing a first set with a second set of chemicals with the intent to initiate a deadly dastardly deed on an airliner arriving in Detroit from a European departure point took place within two days of my prescient warning – but while the setup was a binary one – did not use bladders per se, but was binary per se.

The incident was amateur, but it got past airport security checks – probably because the chemicals in themselves were not dangerous and so did not trigger an alarm. We can and should expect a more sophisticated attack involving elastomeric bladders and we must expect and look out for a binary setup deployed on airliners with the intent to generate not just an explosion but extremely deadly gaseous nerve agent, which in the confined space of an airliner would be pretty devastating.

There are elemental counter-measures that can be deployed - airline pilots should be prepared to, for example, flush the air fro the plane by controlled de-pressurization, which would also knock out the terrorist(s).

bladder this said...

I predicted a binary attack just a few days ago – based on simple logic – more specifically, just a few days ago I published (on Glyn’s blog) a hunch that an Awad bin Laden's al-Qaida or affiliated group is planning another in-flight airliner outrage. I specified that the attack would likely be binary in nature, and I warned that logic dictates that al-Qaida or affiliated group were working on binary weapons of the kind that can be carried on a person and which are very hard to detect at current airport security check points. Perhaps the boys in blue should acquire my Welsh expat analytical skills – lost from Wales, but still available if anyone wants them (for legal/government purposes only I might add).

Footnote: the attack on the airliner involving a binary setup failed on several accounts. Principally, the guy who mounted the attack and/or his affiliate(s) were not chemists or forgot elemental chemical reaction principles. Reactants essentially require infinite surface area, this is best achieved in 3D space – e.g., in a container or casing (or, an I am pretty certain that al-Qaida linked elements are working on using small bladders made out of elastomeric material (bit like a water balloon as used in one’s childhood/days).

The terrorist on the Detroit bound airliner apparently deployed a first reactant from a syringe (3D space and hence infinite surface area) onto a second reactant on his trousers (pants as they say in the USA), a 2D space – i.e., the first chemical was deployed onto a second chemical on a finite surface area (2D) so the reaction was likely to be slow and hence non-explosive in nature. However, had the weapon been a nerve agent binary weapon not dependent on fast reaction kinetics it could have been absolutely deadly for the passengers and crew – especially as the attack happened when the outside pressure was about one Bar – i.e., the aircraft was close to the ground, hence depressurizing the aircraft would have been difficult if not impossible absent release of compressed air inside the cabin – something not carried on ordinary passenger airliners.

Footnote #2: A wave of airliner attacks using binary setups is HIGHLY likely. There are simple ways employing, e.g., fuzzy logic, for detecting if someone is carrying a binary weapon, even a surgically placed binary weapon. Somebody just needs to ask.

Btw, I predicted that Iran was working on nuke triggers - the UN, USA and the UK published as much a few weeks later. Here's another prediction: Iran is formulating plans for a low-earth orbital mini-platform for "civilian purposes" if you get my drift. Just that the west/authorities haven't found out yet or r keeping it under their hat(s).