To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, with reference to page 29 of the Government response to Sir Eric Pickles' review of electoral fraud, published in December 2016, when his Department plans to finalise full details of the pilot schemes.
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, with reference to page 29 of the Government response to Sir Eric Pickles' review of electoral fraud, published in December 2016, what discussions his Department has had with the 18 local authorities identified with respect to their interest in taking part in the pilot schemes.
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, with reference to page 29 of the Government response to Sir Eric Pickles' review of electoral fraud, published in December 2016, how many local authorities he expects to take part in the pilot schemes.
A little over a year ago, on
This totally caused a lightbulb in my brain, I looked at the rest of the schedule for the week, and on Sunday morning I bought a pretty cheap, pretty good ticket for the 1 p.m. game against the Flyers. I went to lunch at b and I had a burger salad that was pretty decent.
The Caps had a pretty slow start (why is this a chronic issue? This is going on four years, guys. Start playing hockey from minute one) but they demolished the Flyers and chased Mason. Wo-oh wo-oh. Wo-oh wo-oh! As we hit goal 5, I realized I had made a strategic error. I was wearing my (second) Girl Gang cap (first Girl Gang cap, lost to bus travel, RIP), and two players had scored two goals. What would I do if a hat trick occurred? It turned out okay, no one scored any more, and the Flyers were practically in tears, so all was well.
Afterwards, I watched Fences, since the Phonebooth is right next door to a movie theater.
Troy is a really great role, but I feel like Denzel was a little bit indulgent in playing him. I'm just not sure that directing yourself in the lead role is a good idea. He was good, but with just a hint of scenery chewing. (To be fair, that was, like, 80% the character? Troy is one of those big people who sucks up all the life in a room.)
Viola Davis is a fucking national treasure and we do not deserve her. She was so great, with great passion and also great restraint. There were several beautiful reaction shots. She was very clear in communicating the relationship she had to each of the other characters and how she was feeling about her life at any given time. I really loved this performance and this role, and she so deserves an Oscar nod.
I'm not necessarily sold on the movie as a whole. I don't feel strongly about it one way or the other. I certainly don't regret going to see it, but it was mostly a story about a man's relationship with his sons, and my interest in that is limited right now, even for a black man.
So, the weekend was pretty great.
This week has been an ongoing trial. DC is being fenced in to prepare for the inauguration, and getting around near my office was getting more and more difficult. Tuesday, I saw the U.S. flag on the Capitol, and it felt like a threat. The bus I catch lost most of the DC part of its route on Wednesday, and I didn't get the alert, although some people on the bus said that they had gotten one belatedly. It lost all of the DC part of the route today. D: The fences make the Mall etc. feel like a cage. And today, there were all these god damn white people wandering around in fucking MAGA hats. Thankfully, my office is closed for the inauguration, because I would lose my mind if I had to go in for that bullshit.
I have comforted myself by reading volume 5 of Sunstone, which was great, but also the end of that story. /: I think I have to reread all five volumes to see how I feel about it as an ending, but it was great to sink into that world again and it was definitely as beautiful as the previous volumes. I feel like, even though the same face was still there, the faces were less same-y somehow. I can't explain, because they weren't exactly more expressive, just more distinct. I think I liked it. Sejic is promising more stories in the same world. I'll probably actually pick up Alan and Anne's story, because I like Alan, but I'm not sure about the other couples. Too much straightness.
Tomorrow, I'm going to catch up on my comics (I will finally deal with the nightmare that is Civil War II) and watch the new season of Voltron: Legendary Defender.
As I said in my original post, "it's using admirable pacing to unfold a lot of plot and character development in a very compact space," and that continues right up to the very end. So if you're puzzled by certain aspects stick with it, it's worth it, and it all really works as a single thing. And I love everyone in this bar, they're so great, and it's so delightfully off-kilter in all the little details, and it just makes me happy. And amazed. It's so good.
(Yes, there is a rather open end to the season, but it's also one that allows you to pretty easily write your own closure if you want and if for some reason it's not renewed. So I wouldn't call it a cliffhanger, but YMMV.)
A spoiler post will follow.
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In past videos, I’ve mentioned “Big Alt Med.” Obviously this is a reference to “Big Pharma,” the label given to the pharmaceutical industry by the people critical of them. To be fair, that includes me — Big Pharma is a behemoth, and they are an often-times dangerous lobby that vocally supports policies that increases their profits to the detriment of the public.
“Big Pharma” is also a moniker used by people who think science-based medicine as a whole is corrupt and useless. These people may think vaccines cause autism, or that homeopathy is the best way to treat cancer. The vast majority of them rail about Big Pharma while driving their SUVs to Wholefoods to pick up some all-natural “alternative medicine” from small mom-and-pop companies like Nature’s Bounty, Vitamin World, Puritan’s Pride and Sundown.
The problem with that is that all those companies are owned by a single New York company known as NBTY Inc., which has made sales in excess of $2 billion per year in the United States alone. Most supplement sales go to companies like Unilever and Bayer — in other words, “Big Pharma.”
This is “Big Alt Med”: a $34 billion a year industry that is a vital part of Big Pharma.
Big Alt Med came to my mind this week when I read about Dr. Pieter Cohen, a Harvard doctor and researcher who published a study revealing that some weight-loss supplements currently on shelves contain a potentially dangerous synthetic chemical similar in structure to amphetamines. Last November, one of the supplement makers sued Cohen for libel, saying the study was slanderous because the company claims the chemical is derived “naturally” from a bush.
Jared Wheat is the cowardly, litigious asshole who owns Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals. He came up with the idea for his supplement business while in prison for charges related to hawking ecstasy pills. And even though he ultimately lost his libel case with Cohen, he told STAT News that it was sort of a win, because other researchers and science communicators who are interested in educating the public about potentially dangerous substances will see that he was willing and able to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to drag an innocent man through court.
Lucky for Cohen, he had the support of Harvard and was backed by their insurance up to $5 million, though Wheat began by suing him for more than that. Not every researcher will be quite so lucky, which is why over the past decade activists have attempted to improve libel laws in both the US and the UK to allow greater freedom for journalists and researchers to criticize wealthy targets with solid evidence.
Wheat freely admits that he’s hopeful that will all change once Trump is in charge, and it very well might — Trump has been outspoken about his hatred of the free press, and I have no doubt that he will attempt to chip away at 1st amendment rights in the hopes of squelching criticism of himself. It’s going to be tough going for those of us who try to hold powerful people and industries honest.
As for Cohen, he has confirmed that he’s going to fight harder than ever. He has a number of new studies coming out that are sure to continue to piss off the greedy quacks trying to make a quick buck off an uninformed public. Good for him for not backing down! I hope more people share his story to give him the support he needs to keep going and to inspire other people to not self-censor scientific fact, even if it means you may be in for a legal battle.
I’ve had a very bad sinus infection for a few days — one which was at first so bad I genuinely worried it might be a stroke because I was so dizzy I couldn’t even turn over in my sleep without being woken by the dizziness — and also had some bad health news from a couple of family members. I’ll be posting last week’s comic reviews to Patreon in the morning, and will probably get a proper post up tomorrow for everyone else, too.
Labour chooses a Corbyn critic to fight Copeland and this and the Stoke Central by-elections could bJan. 19th, 2017 10:30 pm
Labour candidate for Copeland by-election is not a massive fan of Jeremy Corbyn. pic.twitter.com/0EP91ycFjw
— Jim Waterson (@jimwaterson) January 19, 2017
Big developments tonight in the two by-elections where LAB is defending seats where the sitting MPs are standing down to pursue other careers.
According to Kevin Schofield of PoiticsHome Labour is planning to hold the two contests on the same day – something that always seemed likely.
It had been thought that the party would have waited until My 4th – when elections are taking place in many parts of the country and we have the first mayoral elections for George Osbornes’s new combined authorities. According to the report that plan has now been ruled out.
“..party strategists now believe they have a better chance of holding both seats if they mount short campaigns.
Copeland MP Mr Reed will formally stand down on 31 January to take up a job in the nuclear industry, while Mr Hunt will quit before the weekend to become the new director of the Victoria and Albert Museum…”
The other development is that the Corbyn-supporter on the LAB Copeland short-list has not been chosen – instead the job of seeking to become the seat’s next MP has gone to Councillor Gillian Troughton some of whose Tweets on her leader are featured above.
Her selection means that every single by-election LAB nominee in a seat being defended since Corbyn got the job has gone to a non-Corbyn supporter.
Clearly in Copeland there is going to be an issue with the LAB leader’s widely reported position on nuclear power which the Tories have already got their teeth into.
The husband of the Lib Dem choice in Copeland, Rebecca Benson, is a nuclear engineer.
The worry for Labour is that it is under severe pressure in both Stoke and Copeland. UKIP’s new leader, Paul Nuttall is running on Stoke Central where the party came 2nd in 2015.
After last week’s spectacular pair of gains, this week saw just one council by-election, on Bromsgrove Council (Worcestershire), but no Liberal Democrat candidate.
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If you sign up for my daily email with the latest pieces from this site, you’ll also get included as a little bonus the full set of council by-election results each week:
Lib Dems selected a pro Remain candidate to fight the May election for the newly created £70,000 role as mayor of Cambridgeshire.
Cambridge City councillor Rod Cantrill was selected in a ballot of all members of the Liberal Democrats living in the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough areas.
Cllr Cantrill, who has lived in Cambridgeshire for over 30 years, has a background in finance. He has run his own financial consulting business since 2003 and was first elected as a city councillor in 2004.
In June’s EU referendum he was a key figure in a leading local cross-party Remain campaign working with Labour, Conservative and Green campaigners to fight for what he believed was best for our county and our country.
He said: “Our area has many opportunities for growth that I am eager to exploit going forward.
“In parallel, it faces its fair share of challenges over the next few years; be it the dangers of a hard Brexit, government cuts or a lack of much-needed infrastructure.”
A little bit of further background about Rod Cantrill:
Rod grew up in Annesley Woodhouse, a small Nottinghamshire mining village where his dad was a miner and his mum was a housewife. Rod firmly believes that growing up in a tight-knit community where people looked out for one another, where the sense of community ran deep, helped shape the person he is today.
He saw, up close and personal, how successive governments failed to stop the economic decline of communities like his after the closure of many mining pits. The effects were truly devastating and helped build Rod’s sense of the need to spread prosperity across wider areas.
He thinks it is wrong that so many politicians have been prepared to sit back and allow communities to get left behind by the significant changes our society has seen over the last few decades. That’s why as our Mayor he will work to ensure that everyone benefits from our region’s economic success and growth.
The principle of public service is something very close to Rod’s heart. Growing up his family taught him the importance of working to improve the lives of those living around him. It is the idea that you should stand up and work hard to make your area a better place to live that first led Rod to join the Liberal Democrats and stand for election.
Keep up with news about Lib Dem selections
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Finally, we have a Lib Dem on Question Time.
— BBC Question Time (@bbcquestiontime) January 19, 2017
Alistair will, I’m sure, seek to highlight the general uselessness of the annexe to the Government led by Jeremy Corbyn.
If it weren’t for Alistair, I’d be tempted not to watch tonight. The smug apologism for Trump that Piers Morgan represents is bad enough, but Chris Grayling and Emily Thornberry can usually be guaranteed to annoy me.
It is good that our unique position on Brexit is going to get the airing it deserves. It’s on at the usual time of 10:45 on BBC1. I’ll get the popcorn….
* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings
Norton on Bromsgrove (caused by the death of the sitting Conservative councillor)
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 18, Labour 7, Independents 3, Wythall Ratepayers 3 (Conservative majority of 5)
Result of ward at last election (2015): Conservative 943 (60%), Labour 467 (30%), Green 166 (11%)
EU Referendum Result: REMAIN 26,252 (45%) LEAVE 32,563 (55%) on a turnout of 79%
Candidates duly nominated: Michelle Baker (Green), Rory Shannon (Lab), Adrian Smart (UKIP), Michael Webb (Con)
Weather at the close of poll: Clear, 1°C
Estimate: Con HOLD
Compiled by Harry Hayfield
Canada is indeed a different country than the United States and it has a different economy. It is also however close by and very much tied into that economy to the south given NAFTA. Given the decent economic conditions in that much larger U.S. economy it’s therefore perhaps not all that much of a surprise that output is growing in Canada:
Statistics Canada says manufacturing sales climbed 1.5 per cent in November to $51.8 billion.
Economists had expected a gain of 1.0 per cent for the month, according to Thomson Reuters.
The move higher followed a drop in October which was revised to a move down of 0.6 per cent compared with an initial reading of a drop of 0.8 per cent.
Even if we net off over the two months that’s still a decent gain as these things go. The increase was also widespread:
The increase was mainly the result of higher sales in the primary metal, petroleum and coal product, and chemical manufacturing industries.
Sales were up in 14 of the 21 industries, representing 68% of Canadian manufacturing sales.
In constant dollars, sales rose 1.2%, indicating that a higher volume of manufactured goods was sold in November.
It’s over a majority of the various industrial sectors and it’s an increase in both prices and volumes, not just a reflection of inflation.
Nine of Canada’s 10 provinces posted gains, led by Quebec and Alberta.
It’s also widespread geographically.
Given what’s happening in the United States this is also perhaps not all that surprising. Economic conditions there are the best they’ve been in a decade now and yes, again, Canada is a different country but the economies are definitely intertwined. The U.S. economy is also very much larger than that of Canada, meaning that general conditions there probably matter more than just about anything else to the health of the Canadian economy.
As to the future there’s nothing very much, barring Trump’s trade picks actually doing some of the things they’ve been talking about, to change this rosy picture. Absent truly bad policy on tariffs and the like we appear to be in for the prospect of a few very boring years of quiet complacency and rising incomes.
The Chinese province of Liaoning has admitted to having been faking economic data for some four years. This is not exactly a surprise as people have been looking askance at Chinese economic data for years now. However, this doesn’t prove that we cannot take any of the Chinese economic numbers seriously. Logically, we probably should, for we would expect that the national data is prepared by adding up the provincial data. Except that that’s just not how China actually does it.
The provincial data is prepared to make the provincial party bosses look good more than anything else. And while the Chinese government might believe in some pretty odd things like communism and Marxism they’re not so silly as to take seriously data prepared that way by those provinces.
A Chinese official has admitted his province falsified its economic data for years, state media said Wednesday, vindicating long-held suspicions that China has been cooking the books.
The announcement by the governor of the industrial province of Liaoning comes as the world’s second-largest economy prepares to release 2016 data that is tipped to show the slowest growth in more than a quarter of a century.
China’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) figures are a closely watched measure of economic growth in the country, which affect business and financial decisions around the globe.
Okay, so, fake numbers! Caught red handed and book ’em Danno! And with most of the provincial numbers this is a fair enough point to make:
Over-egging the growth figures and other acts of fraud were, according to Chen, committed by both city and county government officials in the Liaoning region who wanted to advance their careers. The fabricated figures impacted the central government’s assessment of the economic status of Liaoning, Chen said, citing a 2016 report from the country’s National Audit Office. The Financial Times reported that the false data led to residents paying $146 each in additional taxes, according to the state-run China Daily.
It would really surprise absolutely no one at all to find out that all provinces had been doing much the same thing. So, obviously, therefore all China’s GDP numbers are wrong then, yes?
Except no, that’s not actually how they are compiled:
This headline refers to provincial data. For years, if not decades, the Chinese central government has admitted the provincial data is inflated. For any given year, if you take an average of provincial GDP growth rates you end up with a figure that is substantially above the national growth rate. How is that even possible? The answer is simple; the national government knows the provincial data is inflated (as provincial officials are given promotions based on success in boosting GDP) and hence the national figures are developed using a completely different data set.
They know about the cheating and thus don’t use that information.
Of course, this doesn’t then mean that those national figures are correct. We’ve just ruled out one manner in which they’re not wrong. As an opinion I’d regard the Chinese national GDP figures are not being very accurate. Part of that being just that it’s rather difficult to add up the economic output of 1.3 billion people. I also don’t think that a government which prides itself upon, in fact claims its very right to rule from its skill at, economic planning is going to allow outcomes to diverge too far from plans. However, along with Scott Sumner I’d say those numbers are roughly right. Maybe not the numbers announced each month or quarter, but certainly in the right ballpark. For even if we march off to use entirely different sources of figures we do still get to the same conclusion. China’s last couple of decades has been the largest leap in income and wealth ever in the history of our species. No, maybe it’s not all perfect in detail but there’s really no getting away from the fact that China has developed hugely in recent years.
We have the latest U.S. initial unemployment filing claims (the “jobless” number) for the latest week and it’s down to 234,000. This is, as many are reporting, a number to compare with things last seen 40 and more years ago, in the early 1970s. However, it’s actually more than that as the labour force has expanded considerably since then. The rate, rather than the number, is now around half what it was back in the 70s. As to the why, there are two effects, one reinforcing the other. People just need to lay off less labour at present, the economy is doing pretty well. But that also means that employers know that, if they should need more labour, it’s going to be hard to find. Thus they’re less willing to lay off in the first place:
U.S. Jobless Claims Fall to 234,000 in Latest Week
Number of Americans newly applying for unemployment checks remains at historically low level
These numbers only go back to the 1960s. And as we can see we are back to those historically low numbers:
However, the labour force is about twice the size it was back then. Meaning that the rate is around and about half what it was back then. We are in something of a tight labour market therefore:
Unemployment claims are a proxy for layoffs. They have now come in below 300,000 for 98 straight weeks. The unemployment rate last month came in at 4.7 percent, close to what economists consider full employment.
And we’re seeing that on the other side too, real wages are now growing. We’d all prefer that they were growing more than they are but they are indeed growing.
The monthly average of claims, a more accurate gauge of labor-market trends, also fell by 10,250 to 246,750 to mark the lowest level since November 1973.
A one week number just isn’t going to be all that accurate so the big boys tend to prefer to use that monthly moving average.
The take away from this is that the economy is, on a cyclical basis, about as good as it’s going to get. It would be truly exceptional if unemployment were to drop another percentage point and we probably wouldn’t want it to either. Real wages are growing, employers are being careful with the labour they’ve got. The arguments for Keynesian stimulus of the economy are now gone. But of course we might well want faster economic growth, faster wage growth, than we have. At which point we’ve got to do the hard stuff. We’ve got to go and reform the supply side of the economy to get better than this.
No, supply side doesn’t just mean lower taxes for the rich. It means reforming the supply side of the economy. Deregulating the airlines was supply side, breaking up Ma Bell was. Interesting targets today might be cracking down upon licensure, thereby freeing up the labour market a bit more. Curbing rent seeking would also be good, we might usefully alter the tax system to weigh more heavily upon land or consumption and less upon corporations and capital. But once we’ve got, in the macro- part of the economy, to around and about where we are, we can only make things even better through working on the microeconomic structure of the economy. And the problem there is that there’s always someone’s bull gets gored by such changes. Thus it’s difficult.