The government has finally seen through the wind-farm scam – but why did it take them so long?
To the nearest whole number, the percentage of the world’s energy that comes from wind turbines today is: zero. Despite the regressive subsidy (pushing pensioners into fuel poverty while improving the wine cellars of grand estates), despite tearing rural communities apart, killing jobs, despoiling views, erecting pylons, felling forests, killing bats and eagles, causing industrial accidents, clogging motorways, polluting lakes in Inner Mongolia with the toxic and radioactive tailings from refining neodymium, a ton of which is in the average turbine — despite all this, the total energy generated each day by wind has yet to reach half a per cent worldwide.
Sunday will be Russia’s Coronation Day. The emperor is back from his constitutionally imposed four-year break, Dmitri Medvedev, the fill-in, finds his coach turning back into a prime ministerial pumpkin, and Vladimir Putin will be president for another term: only this time it’s been extended to six years. President of Russia till 2018, and he’ll still only be 65. But for the first time it’s possible to ask ourselves whether the long-running Putin project will carry on working as smoothly as it has so far.
They learned from us – now we need to learn from themThe last time I visited Singapore, I stayed at the charmingly run-down, distinctly colonial Raffles Hotel. I drank a Singapore Sling in the Long Bar, contemplated a well-fed cockroach in my room and fancied myself to be following in the footsteps of Somerset Maugham. It was more than 30 years ago. I felt like Milord Anglais, making my tour around the still pretty exotic Far East.
In a couple of weeks, Alan Bean will turn 80. He’s not planning any special celebration. If he does go out, it will probably be to a local restaurant in Houston, Texas. ‘I’ve eaten barbecue at this restaurant once a week, have done for 15 years,’ he tells me. ‘Nobody there has any idea that I’m anyone other than this old guy who likes barbecue.’ Few people even recognise his name. This is probably because Alan Bean was the fourth man to do something.
He who would see England’s future should be separated for a while from the better parts of London and sent (literally, not metaphorically) to Coventry. There, amid the hideous and dilapidating buildings of a failed modernism, he will see precincts with half the shops boarded up, where youths in hoodies skateboard all day along the walkways, the prematurely aged, fat and crippled unemployed occupy themselves in the search for cheap imported junk in such shops as remain open, and the lurkers, muggers and dealers wait for nightfall.
A very chic lady turned to me at a dinner party recently and in tremulous tones confided that she was being investigated for benefit fraud.‘Infernal cheek,’ I said. ‘How typical that our chaotic benefits system should make such a stupid mistake. Instead of going after the layabouts, some idiot pen-pusher has put two and two together and made nine.’‘No,’ she said, her cut-glass voice lowering until it was almost inaudible.
Celebrities have a right to profit from the exploitation of personal information – and so do youSomething has been bugging me about the Leveson inquiry, and it’s not a private investigator hired by News International. It’s the pervasive line of defence that you hear when it comes to the invasion of privacy, and with the Sunday Sun rising in the east, it’s worth addressing. There’s no chance the new Sunday red-top will revive the black arts of its predecessor and indulge in what the Met’s Sue Akers has called the Sun’s ‘culture of illegal payments’.