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The American Invasion of Britain, 22nd April 1778

God Gold and Generals - 5 hours 51 min ago

My thanks to Barry King for drawing my attention to one of the strangest and most farcical episodes in Anglo-American history. With our daughter Naomi's engagement to Max I trust that future relations between our two countries will be more cordial! 
On the evening of April 22nd 1778, the US invaded Britain, for the only time in both our history. Unlike say the War of 1812 which led to the writing of the "Star Spangled Banner" and the burning of the White House, this 'invasion" has been justifiably overlooked by history. Until now! 
The invasion was in reality more of a raid on a small coastal town in what is now Cumbria, Whitehaven. It was led by John Paul Jones, who was born in Scotland but became one of the leading officers in the newly formed US Navy. Jones was a formidable and brave foe, who famously when asked to surrender by a British ship said "Surrender? I have not yet started to fight" and end up capturing his opponent. But Jones was equally ferocious with his own men and was for a while under a cloud after he flogged one of his own men to death. Jones knew Whitehaven very well as it was there that he had first gone to sea and served his apprenticeship. He wanted to use his knowledge of the town to seize the forts guarding the harbour and set fire to as many of the 400 or so merchant ships it contained as possible. As most of them were carrying coal which of course is combustible this should have been straightforward but events conspired otherwise
Things went promisingly when in the dark of night, the USS Ranger, Jones’s ship, dropped off the raiding party and the boat carrying Jones and his Swedish second in command crept up to the fort, climbed ashore and quickly overpowered the stunned soldiers who were too busy warming themselves on what was a cold and miserable night. Jones then "spiked" the cannon which meant hammering a barbed steel spike into the touch hole of the cannon (the place where you placed a match to fire the gunpowder) thus rendering them useless. This act is to this day commemorated by the above statue. 
Unfortunately, from then on things began to go from bad to worse. Many of Jones men were lured by the warmth and light of the local tavern, which was conveniently situated on the Quay. Many proceeded to get drunk. Efforts to set the ships alike were amateurish as the incendiary devices thrown into the ships holds failed to go off or only produced small fires. Even worse, one of the crew, an Irishman called David Freeman went from house to house warning the inhabitants of what was happening. In fact there are indications that much of Jones’s crew was against the whole idea, for one of his own officers wrote that the raid was misguided as it meant “destroying poor people’s property” Soon the townsfolk began not only to operate fire engines to put out the fire but also by the light of the dawn to fire from the remaining cannon at the rapidly retreating American forces. Perhaps fortunately for future Anglo-American relations, their aim was very poor, minimal damage was done and honour was satisfied on both sides. The Americans were happy that they had tweaked the British nose and the British were happy that they had repulsed the pesky pirate Jones. 
The aftermath was also more comedy than tragedy. Jones next decided to try and kidnap Lord Selkirk just up the coast in Kirkcudbright, Scotland. The capture of Selkirk who was the local Lord when Jones was a lad, would he thought be a devastating blow to the King. Unfortunately his plan had three defects. Firstly, nobody in London would have barely even known who Selkirk was, secondly Selkirk was actually strongly pro American, thirdly he wasn't there - he was in fact in England, “taking the waters” in a spa. His heavily pregnant wife greeted Jones and his crew with typical British "sang froid" and in fact even gave them a drink for their troubles. Jones in response stole her sliver teapot (complete with tea) - though in fairness it must be said that he eventually returned the famous tablepiece, his conscience perhaps troubling him.
After some fierce battles on the way south, Jones and his men eventually made it home. Meanwhile, in Whitehaven, all sorts of rumours were circulating, notably that Jones had left letters to a local lady, who was obliged to issue an announcement that this was 'fake news". Jones himself was demonised (see cartoon above) as a gigantic Blackbeard style pirate - in reality he was 5 foot 4. 
Within a few days a letter arrived from north of the border stating "there is great reason to believe that this John Paul Jones is the same person with a John Paul who commanded a brig in the West India trade, belonging to Kirkcudbright, in the years 1769 and 1770, a native of this S[t]ewartry, and the greatest miscreant under the canopy of heaven; the more dangerous indeed because he is a villain of abilities. He has committed two or three murders, for one of which he narrowly escaped the gallows in the West Indies."
We should perhaps in fairness given this savage attack leave the last word to the gallant Captain Jones himself who wrote to his superiors the following report. Certain details perhaps understandably seem to have been omitted!
"At midnight I left the ship with two boats and thirty one volunteers. When we reached the outer pier the day began to dawn. I would not however abandon my enterprize but dispatched one boat under Mr Hall & Lt. Wallingford with the necessary combustibles to set fire to the shipping on the north side of the harbour while I went with the other party to attempt the south side.- I was successful in scaling the walls and spiking up all the cannon on the first fort finding that the centinels were shut up in the guard house we secured them without their being hurt..
On my return from this business I naturally expected to see the fire of the ships on the north side as well as to find my own party with everything in readiness to set fire to the shipping in the south, instead of this I found the boat under Mr. Hill & Mr. Wallingford returned and the party in some confusion their light having burnt out at the instant it became necessary.- On the strangest fatality my own party were in the same situation, the candles being all burnt out:- The day too came on apace, yet I would by no means retreat while any hopes of success remained. Having again placed centinels a light was obtained from an house at a distance from the town and fire was kindled in the steerage of a large ship which was surrounded by at least an hundred & fifty others chiefly from two to four hundred tons burthen and laying side by side aground unsurrounded by the water... The inhabitants began to appear in thousands and individuals ran hastily towards us. I stood between them and the ship on fire with a pistol in my hand and ordered them to retire which they did with precipitation. The flames had already caught the rigging and began to ascend the main-mast- the sun was a full hour above the horizon and as sleep no longer ruled the world it was time to retire- we re-embarked without opposition, having released a number of prisoners as our boats could not carry them- after all my people had embarked I stood upon the pier for a considerable time yet no one advanced- I saw all the eminences around the town covered with amazed inhabitants.....Had it been possible to have landed a few hours sooner my success would have been complete; not a single ship of more than two hundred could have escaped and the whole world would not have been able to save the town. What was done however is sufficient to shew that not all their boasted navy can protect their own coasts, and that the scenes of distress which they have occasioned in America may soon be brought home to their own doors. One of my people was missing and must I fear have fallen into the hands of the enemy after our departure. I was pleased that in this business we neither killed nor wounded- I brought off three prisoners as a sample. We then stood over for the Scotch shore and I landed at noon on St. Mary's Isle with one boat and a very small party, the motives which induced me to land there are explained in the within copy of a letter which I have written to the Countess of Selkirk."
Categories: Friends

Venezuela Campaign: Hungry for change & hungry full stop

Adam Smith Institute - 8 hours 8 min ago

Since Hugo Chavez declared his ‘Bolivarian Revolution’ in 1999, Venezuela has become entirely dependent on imported food. In 2014, it was estimated that 70% of all goods, including food, were imported from abroad. Several years’ mismanagement of Venezuela’s key oil industry has crippled the country financially, especially since oil prices halved in 2014. Price controls on basic foodstuffs, as well as strict controls on the ability to convert bolivars to dollars, has made food unaffordable for most Venezuelans. Many Venezuelan companies cannot afford to produce food for the price set by the state, and have simply gone out of business.

As an example of just how severe the crisis has become, the monthly minimum wage can feed a family for less than a day. Around 10 million Venezuelans, or a third of the population, are on the minimum wage. Even for those who earn more, living has become a daily struggle: one would need 55 times the minimum wage to feed a family for month.

The impact on the country’s health has been devastating. Venezuelans reported losing an average of 8kg in 2016, and 11kg in 2017; more is expected as hyperinflation destroys Venezuela’s currency. Around 8 million Venezuelans only eat two meals or fewer a day. Children under 5 are most at risk during this crisis: the charity Caritas have estimated that half are suffering from malnutrition or are at severe risk. In 2018 alone, 300,000 child deaths have been linked to malnutrition.

Most Venezuelans are now anemic as their diet lacks the iron usually found in meat, green leafy vegetables and maize flour, which have all become increasingly scarce. Medical conditions linked to malnutrition are on the rise, and Venezuela’s hospital’s are unable to cope as they too suffer from shortages made worse by an embargo on international aid.

This is happening now. The Venezuelan people are running out of ways to cope with the severe lack of food. Whatever needs to be done, must be done soon.

More information on the Venezuela Campaign can be found on their website

Categories: Current Affairs

If only people bothered to check the facts

Adam Smith Institute - 10 hours 20 min ago

Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett, writing in The Guardian, wants to tell us all that having a child in today's Britain is a very difficult thing. House prices, low wages, the cost of childcare, the list of reasons not to goes on. This leads to our low fertility rate:

 These are quite some mixed messages. The Office for National Statistics reports that the birthrate has reached a 12-year low as couples have fewer children or defer having them until later. It has been falling since 2012, while the average number of children expected to be born to each woman (called the fertility rate) has fallen to 1.76. This, the Times reports, “coincides with a long squeeze on wages and weak pay growth after the 2008 financial crisis, and is likely to reflect sustained pressure on household incomes”.

There is, we are told, a solution to this. What we shouldn't do:

Brexit is only likely to decrease workers’ rights. There is so much focus on emulating and trading with the US, but doing so is hardly likely to improve our birthrate. It’s one of the worst countries in the world for maternity law.

The US fertility rate is almost exactly the same as that in the UK. And what we should do:

At the same time, we should recognise that in terms of supporting and encouraging would-be parents and new parents, the UK remains well behind other European nations. It is by following their models that we will see families thrive.

Well, yes.

In 2016, the total fertility rate in the EU-28 was 1.60 live births per woman

The UK's (and that of the US) fertility rate is above that of the rest of the EU, that place we're supposed to emulate so as to make it easier for people to have children and thus raise our fertility rate.

We really are liberals around here and we're entirely fine with people having different opinions to our own. But we begin to object when they decide upon a different reality.

Categories: Current Affairs

The Facebook Penalty Box

Blog & Mablog - Sat, 21/07/2018 - 22:39
I am posting an article below by Robert Gagnon. I am posting it here because Facebook removed it earlier when Gagnon posted it, and suspended him for a day. Having posted it here, I will send it out to Twitter and Facebook, and would encourage you all to share it all over the place. Incidentally, the article is a model of moderate and firm argumentation, and so you should take special note of what Facebook deems to be seething with hatred. Concerns with the upcoming Revoice Conference and Spiritual Friendship Folk   Robert A. J. Gagnon   While I am glad for the fact that persons at the upcoming Revoice Conference (July 26-28, St. Louis, in a PCA venue) and those who align with the “Spiritual Friendship” program want to refrain from engaging in same-sex intercourse and thereby uphold this part of the orthodox witness, I have seven consequential concerns about their views.   1. Inadequate engagement with the need for “renewal of the mind” as regards homosexual desires. Is there any asking of: “What is the false narrative that gives these impulses particular strength? Why am I viewing a person of the same sex as a sexual complement or counterpart to my own sex? Why am I aroused by the distinctive sexual features of my own sex, by what I already have? Am I thinking of myself as only half of my own sex? What kind of strategies for renewing my mind can I use to counter this false narrative beyond ‘washed and waiting’?” Instead, the benefits of a generalized “gay” perspective (minus the sex) are celebrated or lifted up. Even if one’s attractions may not change with such an evaluation, they can be disempowered by exposing the lie that lies behind attempts to gratify same-sex desire or (for “transgenders,” so-called) to deny one’s biological sex altogether. There is more to be addressed here than refraining from homosexual sex.   2. The adoption of terminology for self-identity that cannot be sanctified and inevitably brings in the whole “LGBTQ” baggage (“sexual minority,” “gay,” “transgender”). This terminology is normally associated with self-affirmation rather than sin and switches the obligation of the church from a call for repentance and restoration to a call for inclusion and diversity that celebrates what should be mortified. The fact that evangelical proponents of the “sexual minority” language are unwilling to use it of those with a pedophilic or polyamorist orientation should tell us all something.   3. A greater focus on a victim mentality than on the need for disengagement with the LGBTQ agenda (hence their refusal to sign the Nashville Statement). It is more important for them to say that the church has treated persons with same-sex attractions in an ungodly way throughout its history (painting with a broad brush) than to say that those who promote homosexual practice and transgenderism in the church are committing heresy. Indeed, they usually reject the heresy charge and any arguments made from Scripture that homosexual practice is a particularly severe violation of God’s standards for sexual ethics. Many cast entering into homosexual unions not as egregious sin but rather as something less than the maximal “flourishing” that God has for us. Self-critique generally doesn’t go further than a non-moral disability model. This in turn often leads to favoring church membership (without church discipline) even for self-professed Christians actively engaged in homosexual relationships.   4. Support for “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” laws that lead to the persecution of Christians and the erosion of the church’s own standards (since indoctrination in the sphere of the state affects the views that people carry into the church); even general support by some of, or at least strong sympathy for, “gay marriage.”   5. An apparent aversion to any thought of developmental influences on any homosexual attraction and discouragement of any who seek help for reducing the intensity and direction of same-sex sexual attractions. Indeed, the idea of some Christians who shift on the Kinsey Scale in the direction of less homosexuality is viewed as a virtual betrayal of the benefits of being “gay” and a threat to those who have not experienced any orientation change. They not only assert that such change is not possible for them but also appear to want to close the door for all others. Granted, a change in the experience of same-sex attractions is not requisite for being a strong Christian; God can declare “my grace is sufficient for you” without removing said attractions. Yet doesn’t God also at times remove or significantly ameliorate the deprivation or difficulty (see numerous Gospel miracles)?   6. A formulation of spiritual friendship that looks an awful lot like marriage minus the sex: viz., a promise of lifelong commitment to one person of the same sex viewed as one’s “significant other.”    7. A greater affinity to “gay Christians” who are in, or looking to be in, a committed homosexual union (the Justin Lee “Gay Christian Network” type) than with Christians involved in Restored Hope Network who operate with ex-gay transformation ministries (Stephen Black of RHN had his registration money for the Revoice Conference returned and his attendance revoked) or even with Christians such as Rosaria Butterfield who are not big fans of reparative therapy. Does this show that their “gay” identity means more to them than their Christian identity? That they really do feel a deeper partnership (koinonia) with those violating Scripture’s teaching on homosexual practice?   A good distillation of quotations from key figures in the Revoice Conference can be found here.   Many Christians of younger generations are now turning to this “LGBTQ-lite” movement as a way of running for cover against charges that they hate “gays” and “transgenders,” as though this were the only show in town. A bit more critical reflection is in order. It is just possible that the Spiritual Friendship people can learn something from those who have gone before them and who have had a longer track-record of being faithful to the cause of the gospel.    I do not say that they are “heretics.” They are brothers and sisters in the Lord. However, I do believe that they have significant room for correction. I also think that a number of their views will be used by other Evangelicals, now and in the future, as a transitional stage for a much greater embrace of “LGBTQ” ideology and agendas. Those leaders in the group experiencing same-sex attractions may even be putting themselves at higher risk, through multiple accommodations in theology and behavior, of taking the route of others (like Julie Rodgers) into full departure from orthodoxy and orthopraxy. I trust that they would argue that the exact reverse is the case; my concern remains. Let us pray that they will be firm in the faith, not deceived by ungodly notions emanating from a desire to legitimize same-sex attractions and gender identity confusion and benefiting from the insight of others beyond their close-knit circle.

The post The Facebook Penalty Box appeared first on Blog & Mablog.

Categories: People I don't know

I Wanna Go Fast - Load Balancing Dynamic Steering

CloudFlare - Sat, 21/07/2018 - 16:51
I Wanna Go Fast - Load Balancing Dynamic Steering

I Wanna Go Fast - Load Balancing Dynamic Steering

Earlier this month we released Dynamic Steering for Load Balancing which allows you to have your Cloudflare load balancer direct traffic to the fastest pool for a given Cloudflare region or colo (Enterprise only).

To build this feature, we had to solve two key problems: 1) How to decide which pool of origins was the fastest and 2) How to distribute this decision to a growing group of 151 locations around the world.

I Wanna Go Fast - Load Balancing Dynamic Steering

Distance, Approximate Latency, and a Better Way

As my math teacher taught me, the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. This is also typically true on the internet - the shorter approximate distance there is between a user going through Cloudflare location to a customer origin, the better the experience is for the user. Geography is one way to approximate speed and we included the Geo Steering function when we initially introduced the Cloudflare Load Balancer. It is powerful, but manual; it’s not the best way. A customer on Twitter said it best:

@Cloudflare #FeatureRequest why can’t your load balancers determine which server is closest to the user then direct them to that one?

I don't want to have configure 10+ regions manually. This feels like something that should be built in? Am I missing it?

cc: @eastdakota

— Adam Evers
Categories: Technology

Calvinism 4.0/Preservation and Perseverance

Blog & Mablog - Sat, 21/07/2018 - 16:06

The usual way people refer to this next doctrine is with the phrase “perseverance of the saints.” I believe that for the sake of a fuller accuracy, we should make the phrase longer, a bit more cumbersome, but much richer and more complete. We should call it the “preservation and perseverance of the saints.”

We do persevere, but only because God keeps and sustains us. If He did not, then we would not persevere. We could not. And yet, at the same time, when God preserves His own, the thing He preserves them in is perseverance in holiness.

Put another way, God is the one who saves us from drowning, but not by leaving us on the bottom of the pool.

The Text:

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one” (John 10:27–30).

Summary of the Text:

The sheep who belong to Christ hear and recognize His voice (v. 27). He is their shepherd, and they know it. They know Him. The still waters that He leads them to, the green pastures they are blessed to lie down in, are the gift of eternal life (v. 28). We are in His hand, and as a good shepherd He gives us this promise—no man is able to pluck us out of His hand. As Christ’s sheep, we are in His hand. But how did these particular sheep come to belong to Him in the first place? The good shepherd has a Father, and this Father is greater than all. The elect sheep were a gift to Christ from the Father, and were a gift going from the Father’s hand to Christ’s hand, and all without leaving the Father’s hand. And because the Father is greater than all, no man is able to pluck them out of the Father’s hand either. And this is why Christ then says “I and the Father are one.”

Exegetical and Systematic Grace:

So you should see plainly that the idea of Christ purchasing the same individuals who were chosen by the Father is not some idea cooked up by theologians. Jesus simply says it. The Father gave a gift to Christ (you), and as a result Christ gave you a gift (eternal life). And because there is no life apart from Himself, in order to give you eternal life, He had to give you Himself in the person of His Spirit. Your eternal life inside you is not some inanimate or impersonal joy juice. He is a Person, and He is working inside you alongside the Father and the Son. They are all engaged in the same work, the work of bringing you home.

But Distortions Are Real:

This is the one aspect of the gospel which the natural man thinks he might be able to like. But like all spiritual truth, the natural man can only love the truth through a distortion of it. So we need to be clear on this. We should therefore make a point to outline a few misunderstandings of the doctrine:

  1. The Existence of Distortions: One distortion is to grant (perhaps) that the doctrine is true but object to any kind of emphasis being placed on it. “If you teach the security of the believer, then men will become complacent and careless about sin, etc.” Yes, some will twist the grace of God into a license for sin. But we do not decide what to teach on the basis of pragmatics. Look at what was done with Paul’s teaching, and notice what he says in Romans 3:8 about the accusation and his accusers. Their condemnation is just. “And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just” (Rom. 3:8). As Martin Luther once responded when he was told that if you preach this kind of grace, certain men will distort it. His reply was, “Let them.”
  2. Once Saved Always Saved: What does this mean? It is a wonderful truth or a damnable heresy depending upon what is meant by saved. Take a look at 1 John 2:19. When this is a distortion, it separates preservation from perseverance, and says that Jesus can be Savior without also functioning as Lord. But . . . “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us” (1 John 2:19).
  3. Losing Salvation: The question is not whether the elect can lose their salvation—as though salvation were a possession of ours, like car keys or something. The real question is whether Christ can lose a Christian or not. The Bible teaches us that salvation means that we are a possession of His. So, can a sheep lose the shepherd? Absolutely. But can a shepherd lose a sheep? And the answer is glorious—not this shepherd.
  4. Both Sides Have Their Verses: This approach dismisses the question as one not having any great practical importance. But wise pastors know that it is a question of great pastoral import. There are many Christians who have been distressed over whether or not they could have assurance of salvation. “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” (1 John 5:13).

The passages of Scripture that talk about apostasy (and there are many) are talking about losing your covenant standing in the visible church. Someone can be covenantally a Christian without being numbered among the elect.

God-centered Salvation:

Man-centeredness causes some to talk about this as though it were a mere reversal of regeneration. But when salvation is understood biblically, i.e. as rooted in the eternal will of the Father in election, in the eternal blood of the covenant which secured their salvation, and the resurrection of the Spirit bringing them into life, the whole picture changes.

Man is mutable and what he does can be undone. God is immutable and what He effectually does cannot be undone. There are many passages which assert this, but one of the clearest is found in Romans 8: 28-39, which we have already considered several times.

But What About . . .?

Let us look at just one passage which is commonly brought forward as evidence that Christians can lose their salvation.

“For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” (Heb. 10:26–29).

What does it say? It does not say anything about Hell or everlasting damnation. The context is that the author of Hebrews (in the mid to late 60’s) is trying to talk some Christians out of returning to the Temple sacrifices in Jerusalem. Obviously, they would have to go to Jerusalem to do this, and it was a masterpiece of bad timing, for Jerusalem was about to be destroyed. The Lord Jesus had prophesied that this would certainly happen within a generation, and that generation was almost up. The only thing they had waiting for them in Jerusalem was raging fire that would consume the adversary. They would not find in Jerusalem any sacrifice for sin. That was done, once for all, in the death of Christ.

The post Calvinism 4.0/Preservation and Perseverance appeared first on Blog & Mablog.

Categories: People I don't know

More than just a linguistic point, optimum means best, not fastest

Adam Smith Institute - Sat, 21/07/2018 - 07:01

This is very much more than just a linguistic little quibble, this is actually a vital point about the economy and the world. Optimum does not mean fastest - nor highest, cheapest, flattest nor any other -est than best.

Just 44 postcodes out of 1.7m are using optimum broadband speeds, Ofcom figures show.

Analysis of internet speeds suggests that a tiny minority of British households are accessing the "gigabit speed" broadband, which is more than 20 time faster than the current average. 

Best here meaning the least bad combination of the various different attributes of whatever it is that we're talking about.

Yes, the FT's map of broadband speeds is interesting. But to say that gigabit speeds - meaning fibre to the door - is optimum is to miss entirely that meaning of best.

What is the cost of gigabit speeds? What is the value of having gigabit speeds? Equally, what are the costs of having slower speeds - say using ASDL - and the benefits of doing so? Actual research here seems to be a bit (sorry) out of date here but we can show that 2 Mbits definitely increases economic growth, anything more than that we're just projecting the effects from that earlier proof.

The larger point of course being that in the economy, as with life in general, we've always got some number of competing interests. Price/performance being only one such but an important and obvious one. That McLaren  is definitely faster than the Fiesta and definitively more expensive. It's not obvious that either are optimum - depends upon the task. One would be better for doing the shopping, the other perhaps to impress.

So it is with broadband. Faster is nice, sure, but we've still got to ask ourselves what the marginal benefit is as compared to that marginal cost. That's the only way we can work out what is the optimal solution. To forget this would mean that we'd festoon the country with fibre to no very good gain.

And no one would want to do that, right? 

Categories: Current Affairs

And Now for a Radical Concept

Blog & Mablog - Sat, 21/07/2018 - 02:00

“I believe that a free people should be able to grow, harvest, sell, truck, shelve, freeze, process, buy, cook, or savor whatever [food] they please, just so long as they do it on their own dime” (Confessions of a Food Catholic, p. 146).

The post And Now for a Radical Concept appeared first on Blog & Mablog.

Categories: People I don't know

CSI denies criminal corruption probe is targeting its moderator

Anglican Ink - Fri, 20/07/2018 - 18:36

TV report alleges multi-million dollar fraud run

Beta: Alt-PHP updated

CloudLinux - Fri, 20/07/2018 - 17:20

New updated Alt-PHP packages are now available for download from our updates-testing repository.



  • ALTPHP-545: updated package to version 5.6.37. Please find full changelog here .


  • ALTPHP-537: fixed an issue with bind_param() and bind_result() functions when MySQLi Driver is used.


  • ALTPHP-545: updated package to version 7.0.31. Please find full changelog here.


  • ALTPHP-537: fixed an issue with bind_param() and bind_result() functions when MySQLi Driver is used.


  • ALTPHP-545: updated package to version 7.1.20. Please find full changelog here.


  • ALTPHP-537: fixed an issue with bind_param() and bind_result() functions when MySQLi Driver is used.


  • ALTPHP-545: updated package to version 7.2.8. Please find full changelog here.


  • ALTPHP-537: fixed an issue with bind_param() and bind_result() functions when MySQLi Driver is used.

Update command:

yum groupupdate alt-php --enablerepo=cloudlinux-updates-testing
Categories: Technology

Ceylonese bishops urge government to reject death penalty

Anglican Ink - Fri, 20/07/2018 - 14:32

Reimposing the death penalty for drug offenses will only affect the “sprats” not the “sharks” of the criminal underworld, the island’s Anglican bishops said this week.

The National Health Service: A Cultural U-Turn

Adam Smith Institute - Fri, 20/07/2018 - 14:32

Contemporary Britain has redefined and extended the roles of the National Health Service from simply treating illness to its prevention, educating the masses and extending life. In its plight to meet all of these criteria, or face torrents of criticism, the NHS has reached a stalemate on its 70th anniversary. Despite receiving £116.4bn in funding (2015/16), it is under fire for shortages of staff and beds as well as prolonged waiting times.

Now, there are calls to modify the NHS from the likes of Mark Pearson (the OECD’s Deputy Director of Employment, Labour and Social Affairs). Others, such as Dr Kristian Niemietz of the Institute of Economic Affairs, have advocated the complete discontinuation of the NHS and its replacement with universal healthcare. The latter may not be necessary if significant changes are made to British attitudes towards health and the norms and practices within medicine.

Increasing the accountability of British citizens by adopting an insurance-based healthcare system is a possible solution to the high demand hospitals face, especially the pressures felt during the winter months. If people have to make insurance payments to receive treatment, the financial commitment is likely to cause a shift in British attitudes towards health, i.e. people will be more compelled to maintain their health without professional medical intervention.

Lifestyle-related illnesses in particular would see a significant decrease. Giving people more personal responsibility for their health could be the key to increasing general health by establishing a more health-conscious culture in Britain, reducing long-term costs to the NHS.

Switzerland exemplifies this: each individual pays insurance premiums worth up to 8% of their annual income. As of 2014, Swiss people are spending an average of 6% of their income on healthcare (this is predicted to increase to 11% by 2030) compared to 5.7% of taxable income in the UK. The system is aimed at promoting health, reducing costs, and encouraging each individual to be responsible for their own health.

Right now the NHS is hampered by the mantra that it is truly “the envy of the world” and any reform from its current model would amount to dismantling Nye Bevan’s legacy.  If this idea is maintained, an insurance-based system will be politically infeasible.

This is not to say that paid healthcare, co-pay or insurance systems would result in a utopian society in which nobody is sick - for instance, diabetes is equally prevalent in Switzerland and the UK (approximately 6%).

But sustaining life is arguably the most vital function of health services, and it appears to be a greater strength of insurance-based healthcare. Switzerland has one of the highest life expectancies in the world and one of the lowest mortality rates in Europe. Notably, the 2015 Euro Health Consumer Index described Swiss healthcare as excellent.

In light of this, the extent to which the NHS can be considered “the envy of the world” becomes questionable. Comparisons with Switzerland and other European nations suggest that British healthcare may not even be the envy of the continent, let alone the world.

At this point in time, the state of the NHS is undeniably inadequate and therefore cannot continue; adult five-year cancer survival rates in the UK are often lower than the European average. For colon cancer, rates were up at 58% by 2007, whereas in the UK, rates were at 52%. Even if sweeping reforms currently lack support from the government, the question of the possible changes that could be implemented in the meantime remains. There are various incremental reforms that could significantly improve outcomes. A starting point for this could be rectifying attitudes and practices deeply ingrained in clinical settings.

Perceptions of accountability must be revised among medical staff. Matthew Syed’s Black Box Thinking addresses the issues of failure and blame at length. Syed makes pertinent comparisons between the industries of healthcare and aviation. While the Aviation Safety Network has reported 2017 to have been the safest year in aviation history with only 44 fatalities in 10 airliner accidents, a report has found that medication errors alone could be causing over 22,000 deaths in the NHS as of 2018.

Syed attributes this difference to the stark contrast between the procedures following accidents in the two industries. When a patient dies unexpectedly, this is met with blame and back-covering; Syed used the real-life story of a woman who died in a routine operation as an example of this. When a plane crashes, while the media reacts with blame and outrage, the aviation industry itself responds with a full analysis of the jet’s black box and body. In fact, Syed goes as far as to suggest that aviation investigators welcome mistakes, which might sound morbid, but he is referring to the opportunity to improve a system when its flaws are exposed.

Elsewhere this approach is going to become more and more important. When cars crash because of human error the tragedy is personal but few people learn lessons from what went wrong. When an automated car crashed in February killing a pedestrian the entire fleet of self-driving cars learned lessons.

This is applicable for our healthcare system; the NHS needs to establish a climate in which staff are able to come forward with their errors. Those very same mistakes, if exploited fully, are the route to improvement. But only if the incentives are right.

Another area for cultural reform in the NHS is the need for an openness to openness, if you will. Interdisciplinary collaboration can prove to be crucial in the progression of any organisation. For instance, the use of graded assertiveness, also known as the P.A.C.E. model of communication, is now commonplace in nurse training. P.A.C.E. (which stands for Probe, Alert, Challenge, Emergency) addresses what social psychologists call the legitimacy of authority - in the hierarchy of staff in a hospital, nurses are liable to see doctors as superior to them and therefore obey them unquestioningly, irrespective of what they think. Graded assertiveness provides them with a method of communication that can enable them to overcome the intimidation they may experience when attempting to express themselves with urgency in high pressure scenarios.

Introducing P.A.C.E. required honesty from the healthcare industry regarding the existence of a hierarchy and the fact that under pressure, doctors can become error-prone. Similarly, a candid evaluation of the predictive value of the NHS is required.

Open Healthcare has been proposed as a method of increasing the predictive abilities of patient records by combining them with data from healthtech companies and giving patients greater access to their personal records. It is thought that patterns can be drawn from the collated information, giving a greater insight on the causal relationships between genes, lifestyle habits, and illnesses, which could better inform future diagnoses and treatments. We could live longer and happier lives. With the ONS estimating 24% of deaths could be postponed through lifestyle choices, Open Healthcare (and openness in healthcare) could be key to allowing people to make better informed decisions over their own lives.

Spending more and more on an inefficient system in the hopes of achieving miraculous change is comparable to adding water to embers and expecting an inferno. Funding is imperative if some semblance of the NHS is to continue, but there has to be difference in the way everyone (from patients to bureaucrats, from doctors to contractors) approaches healthcare in the future.

Nonetheless, the necessary change may not be as drastic as some suggest, particularly critics advocating the total dissolution of the NHS. It is more than likely that the seemingly insignificant things, like nurse-doctor interactions, can collectively overturn an entire system, yet leave the elements people want – free services at the point of use – intact.

Fadekemi Adeleye is a research intern at the Adam Smith Institute.

Categories: Current Affairs

An Important Point in There

Blog & Mablog - Fri, 20/07/2018 - 14:00

The post An Important Point in There appeared first on Blog & Mablog.

Categories: People I don't know

In Defence of Uber

Adam Smith Institute - Fri, 20/07/2018 - 13:08

It hasn’t been a great 18 months for Uber. Both Transport for London and Sadiq Khan indicated that they would prefer unions in the ongoing dispute; even the European Court of Justice waded in with attempts to regulate the disruptor.

Despite the fact that Uber had been used over 2 billion times by the end of 2017, policymakers seem determined to inhibit the company’s growth.

However, regulating Uber will not only have a detrimental effect on consumers, but also on its workers and the future of the gig economy in general. The ASI’s Sam Dumitriu opposed regulating Uber even before the feeding frenzy, warning that calls to treat drivers as employed staff rather than self-employed sole traders would harm those who are “looking for increased flexibility, the ability to be their own boss, to choose their own hours, and to be able to reject any job” – and that’s not to mention consumers who often rely on Uber’s lower pricing and tracking tech to ensure a safe ride home from work or a night out.

Among those who criticise Uber, there is often a lack of consistency in their arguments. It is unreasonable to complain that Uber (or similar gig economy disruptors) are working to the detriment of workers’ rights. As I’ve previously mentioned, drivers have increased flexibility and set their own terms. They dictate their own office space – you won’t see Uber drivers working 15-hour days in dubious conditions unless it’s their choice to do so, and if it is, they can earn an average of £16 an hour for it. Some may claim that leaving Uber unregulated has led to an increase in sexual assaults – this is not true. Despite some issues, Uber is the safest way to travel on the road and has been linked to reductions in assault and the harms of drink driving. Even pro-green campaigners struggle to make complaints – Uber tends to fill its cars, meaning less congestion and less pollution. Additionally, Uber plans to send a fleet of electric cars into British streets in the near future.

Essentially, Uber epitomises disruptive technology and the gig economy, which we should be welcoming, not rejecting. The benefit of a free market is that it allows companies like Uber to innovate and drive up standards through competition.

Green, profitable employment and higher standards of consumer safety: the fact that all this is available for a lower price than that of a black cab is proof that the gig economy (and, whisper it, capitalism) is still working – provided we let it. The government should do so, and listen to ordinary taxpayers and workers rather than taxi unions.

Matt Gillow is runner-up of the 18-21 category of the ASI's 'Young Writer on Liberty' competition. You can follow him on Twitter here.

Categories: Current Affairs

Good intentions and the road to hell

Adam Smith Institute - Fri, 20/07/2018 - 11:34

Saint Bernard, the 12th Century Abbot of Clairvaux in France, is cited as saying ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions’. Legislators often forget (or ignore) this saying when they introduce regulation and legislation, often as a knee-jerk reaction to some perceived problem.

Regulation is often the result of good intentions: the apparent need for legislators to send moral messages and to save people from themselves and their own choices.

A stark example of ill-considered regulation is from America’s attempt to prohibit alcohol in the early 20th Century. Urged on by the Temperance Movement and the Anti-Saloon League, who perceived alcohol and drunkenness as a national sin, the United States banned the production, movement and sale of alcohol. Within minutes of prohibition taking effect in January 1920, armed criminals started raiding warehouses to steal whiskey.

Americans discovered that there was a big difference between using the law to prohibit something and actually enforcing that prohibition. The illegal manufacture and sale of alcohol boomed. Criminal gangs expanded, corruption blossomed with police and politicians being paid to turn a blind-eye to various profitable, illegal activities.

As Mafia-style gangs expanded, so did their criminal activities, including prostitution and gambling. Al Capone was estimated to be earning $60 million a year from his criminal operations.

As the profit of criminals went up, revenue to the government decreased significantly. Washington State University estimated that in 1914, the government income from alcohol tax alone was $226 million. Rather naively, it was believed that the reduction of revenue from alcohol would be offset by increased sales of soft drinks. This never happened.

Alcohol production had been a big business in America, with factories and large workforces employed. Overnight these factories closed and thousands of workers were made unemployed. The negatives significantly outweighed the positives and prohibition itself was abolished 13 years later.

The lessons from prohibition do not seem to have been learnt. The UK’s Misuse of the Drugs Act 1971 has not prevented the large scale misuse of drugs. It has allowed untaxed and unregulated substances to be consumed by vulnerable people. The State of California estimates that it could raise $643million annually following its recent legislation of recreational cannabis. However, in the UK, drug supply is now often just one source of a vast income enjoyed by high-level criminal organisations.

Nobody would suggest that it would be wise for crack cocaine to be freely available to be consumed by all. But generally speaking, governments need to trust their citizens to do the right thing.

Emmie Lowes is runner-up of the Under-18 category of the ASI's 'Young Writer on Liberty' competition.

Categories: Current Affairs

Archbishop Justin Welby hosts faith leader who says homosexuality is a 'disease'

Anglican Ink - Fri, 20/07/2018 - 11:32
‘You are a sign of hope for our world,’ Welby tells Egyptian Sheikh

PHP 7.1.20 Released

PHP - Fri, 20/07/2018 - 09:13
Categories: Technology

Parish Magazine Item for August

Sussex Parson - Fri, 20/07/2018 - 08:05

I don’t know how much the academic year impinges on your consciousness. The ages of our children mean that the summer holidays are a big deal for us. From September, for just one year, our 4 will all be at Dallington C of E Primary school. Our youngest, Thomas, is starting school for the first time, so it seems like the end of a long era for us!

For many, August and September are a time of transition, whether it’s new classes and/or teachers, new schools, colleges or universities. Let’s especially be praying for the young people from our benefice who are about to leave home for the first time and for the work of The Universities’ and Colleges’ Christian Fellowship (UCCF), the Christian Unions. You can read more about them at:

We’ve presented those Year 6s leaving Warblers, our after-school club at Punnetts Town School, with bibles and the Year 6 leavers at Dallington and Punnetts Town schools and elsewhere receive a copy of the Scripture Union book, It’s Your Move, all about starting secondary school.

Many of our young people will see these changes as exciting new challenges, but its perfectly normal if there’s also a little anxiety about the unfamiliar.

Whether or not this summer sees great change for us, for everyone, the future is uncertain. Anything could happen! Indeed, as I’ve thought about writing this article, I’ve wondered whether there will be further cabinet resignations before its published, how much Brexit turmoil there will be, and perhaps even whether the government will somehow have fallen. Who knows?!

As we face an uncertain future, I’ve encouraged the children at Dallington School to remember two biblical texts from the letter to the Hebrew Christians. Here they are:

(1) “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and for ever.” (Hebrews 13:8)

Everything changes, but God never does. Jesus is utterly reliable and trustworthy. Whatever happens, he has promised to be with his people. He will not leave those who trust in him comfortless.

So, as the writer to the Hebrews says:

(2) “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2)

Jesus told his followers not to worry about tomorrow. So many things might concern us, but if we are wise, we wont waste our energies speculating about what might or might not happen. Rather, whatever we face, we face it looking to Jesus, inspired by his example and confident in his care. All our circumstances might change in an instant, and Christians are not insulated even from terrible disaster, but we do have Jesus’ promise that he will help and sustain us. He walked the path of change and the most dreadful suffering before us, and through his victory over sin and death, he is more than able to save us completely, to bring us safely through to glory. We really can rely on him.

Whether your summer is tranquil or full of turmoil, perhaps you’ll find a moment this August to sit in the garden or lay on the beach and reflect on those two great Bible truths. They point us to Jesus, a sure anchor in a world of change. The new academic year is perhaps an opportunity for a fresh start: to pray for God’s grace that by the help of his Holy Spirit we might be able to face the future confidently knowing that Jesus does not change. He has gone before us and will be with us even to the end of the age. If we are believers, our security in Jesus Christ is absolute and that unalterable fact is a stronghold against fear of the future. The future belongs to our loving Lord. Much along the way may be painful, but the wonderful final outcome of all things is not in doubt.

Marc Lloyd
Categories: Friends


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