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Laurence's Blog

by admin published Jun 15, 2007 09:25 PM
Musings of an itinerant web developer

Visit Macedonia

by Laurence Rowe published Jan 27, 2009 07:46 AM
Win special bonus trip to Afghanistan!

The link address is: http://www.boingboing.net/2009/01/26/boing-boing-video-ou-1.html

UK house prices after the credit crunch

by Laurence Rowe published Jan 25, 2009 05:54 PM
A year ago I was thinking of buying a flat in London. I'm glad I didn't.

The Economist recently reported on some research into the effect of past banking crises on asset prices and employment.

Peak-to-trough Price Declines and Years Duration of a Downturn

So if past crises are to be a guide to this present one, then we should expect house prices to decline by 35.5% from their peak in real terms (adjusting for inflation).

Notably, the duration of housing price declines is quite long-lived, averaging roughly six years.  Even excluding the extraordinary experience of Japan (with its 17 consecutive years of price declines), the average remains over five years.

The Nationwide House Price Index shows us how far prices have fallen. Peaking in Q3 2007 at £192,500 (inflated to Q4 2008 prices, this time using the RPI instead of the CPI) they have since dropped by 18.5% to £156,828. Using the historical data as a guide, we should expect prices to bottom out at the end of 2012 at about £124,163 in today's prices.

Long Term Real House Price Trend

Obama orders attacks on first civilians

by Laurence Rowe published Jan 25, 2009 03:11 PM
"some foreign militants also killed"

The link address is: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jan/24/pakistan-barack-obama-air-strike

A response from the Home Office

by Laurence Rowe published Nov 13, 2008 12:14 AM

Back in May I wrote to the Home Office asking for the evidence behind a reported statement that "the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan had no bearing on the level of the security threat in the UK or in the rest of Europe." This in an article in the Independent highlighting a recent European report warning "British foreign policy presented critical dangers for all Europe: "The conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq have a large impact on the security environment of the EU."

After a number of false starts, lost e-mails and clarifications, I received a reply.

When approached by the journalist our spokesman followed the normal procedure and queried the Home Office's press database to see if the Department had been asked a similar question before.

Querying the database yielded a question and answer from the launch of the Government's counter-terrorism strategy, CONTEST. It is this information from the database our spokesman relied on when speaking to the journalist. The information from the database is as follows:

Are you conceding that the Iraq war and UK invasion of Iraq have fuelled extremism?

No. It is the right of every citizen to question UK foreign policy and to have the freedom to debate and disagree. Understand that not everyone agreed with decision to intervene in Iraq. But the UK government did so because of wider issues not because it is a Muslim country. No foreign policy issue justifies terrorism or advocating it.

Must bear in mind that the threat from international terrorism existed before the Iraq war:

Feb 1993
World Trade Centre - 6 dead.
Aug 1998
bombings of US Embassies in Tanzania and Kenya 224 dead, mostly locals.
11 Sept 2001
World Trade Centre, Pentagon 2992 killed.
April 2002
historic synagogue in Tunisia bombed 21 dead including European tourists.
May 2002
hotel bombed in Karachi 14 killed.
Oct 2002
Bali bombs 202 dead, mostly tourists.

 

This tells us more about the processes of the Government media machine than it does about evidence based policy making. The press office database is not of answers to questions, but rather points of rebuttal. The aim being to divert the attention of the journalist from the question at hand to the departmental line that 'terrorists have always done bad things'.

The failure of imagination (either in the Government or presumed in the media audience) displayed by the emphasis on the reasoning for going to war, when it is the perception that is pertinent. The perception that the west has been engaged in a war on Muslims is widely held in many parts of the world and within some communities within Britain.

It appears that the original 'answer' dates from 2003, the launch of CONTEST (or at the FCO, 'Protect and Survive' anyone?) By 2006 the head of MI5 acknowledged that British suicide bombers were driven by the perception of a long standing injustices against Muslims.

So what of the 'wider issues' that lead to the Iraq war. JK Galbraith had the most convincing account I have read.

Tønsberg

by Laurence Rowe published Nov 02, 2008 05:29 PM

Tønsberg waterfront

Further north, the light has a different quality. Colours appear stronger, more intense. Around freezing, the water takes on an almost waxy texture.