Friday, 30 October 2009

America out of recession

The US economy is growing at 3.4% a year, according to last quarter's numbers. So now the USA, Japan, France and Germany are all out of recession, while the UK is still on the down slope - having reported a -0.4% GDP "growth" (ie, shrinkage) over the same time period: July to September.

Spain is also falling at much the same rate as the UK.

With global growth comes global rising interest rates; I think I may have mentioned that in a recent post.

However, the American growth may not be sustained. It has been based on stimulating car demand with the "cash for clunkers" subsidy, and another taxpayer handout to buy a house. It remains to be seen if the economy can sustain itself without government help.


Thursday, 29 October 2009

Environment and energy crisis cancelled

From a conference in Argentina at the beginning of the month we have...

Tony Hayward, BP's chief executive, said proven natural gas reserves around the world have risen to 1.2 trillion barrels of oil equivalent, enough for 60 years' supply – and rising fast.

Meanwhile on the global warming side...

According to research conducted by Professor Don Easterbrook from Western Washington University last November, the oceans and global temperatures are correlated.

The oceans, he says, have a cycle in which they warm and cool cyclically. The most important one is the Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO).

For much of the 1980s and 1990s, it was in a positive cycle, that means warmer than average. And observations have revealed that global temperatures were warm too.

But in the last few years it has been losing its warmth and has recently started to cool down.

So looks like we've got loads of fuel and we're not heating the planet. Plus, the UK has vast shale beds we can exploit to extract the methane which can be liquefied for transport, or compressed to put in your car.

I still think we should go nuclear though.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Norway raises interest rate

Norway has become the first European country to raise its base rate (to 1.5%, from 1.25%) since the start of the credit crunch and consequent near-global recession.

Eagle-eyed Norwegian central bankers think to have detected the first signs of inflation.

As I mentioned at the time, Australia raised its rate a couple of weeks ago.

Although these are very early days, rising international rates will force the UK to raise its rates whether we have inflation in our economy or not. Money chases rates and pushes up the value of a currency. If sterling gets left behind its value will fall, making imports more expensive and exports cheaper - both these effects are inflationary, the more expensive imports especially so. The "benign" international economic environment of recent years is coming to an end. However Norway is - economically - a small nation so the effect on us is minor at the moment; an increase in the ECB or Fed rates would be much more significant.

It should be noted that although the UK base rate is 0.5%, the yield on a ten-year gilt (ie, the interest payable to those who are underwriting our national debt) is 3.7% - considerably higher than base - and rising quite dramatically over the last couple of months. This sets the bar for retail loans.


Monday, 26 October 2009

Fed reverse repo failure?

Rumours are that the Federal Reserve Bank attempted to reverse its quantitative easing programme last week, or rather attempted to test the mechanism, and failed. This only a rumour mind you.

Supposedly they attempted to sell $100bn worth of assets (TARP assets? Presumably not) under a repo agreement, ie agreeing to repurchase them later for more, so no risk to the buyers - the "for more" bit giving the buyers some interest - and the bond buyers sat on their hands and refused to bite.

Had the operation worked it would have withdrawn $100bn of liquidity from the US markets for the period of the repo agreement. (The Fed aren't so bold as to attempt to outright sell the assets; probably wise, that could trigger a price collapse.)

Back to the drawing board, guys!

Karadzic on trial

The trial has started of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic for alleged war crimes during the 1992-1995 Bosnian war when he was president of (part of) Bosnia.

Radovan Karadzic

Since the matter is Sub Judice we will leave that to one side and talk about the trial, in the same court, of one Slobodan Milošević. His trial started at the Hague in February 2002 and the prosecution took two years to present their case, calling almost 300 witnesses and presenting 5,000 items of evidence. Several million pages of written material were put before the court.

Milosevic though-out refused to appoint counsel; he had lawyers but represented himself in court. After he started his own defence he started to get ill with heart problems. There is some suggestion his gaolers were poising him, others think he was poisoning himself so as to get out for medical treatment. He started missing court days and the court imposed limits on his court time to hurry him along. By the beginning of 2006 he was asking to be transferred to a specialist heart unit in Moscow - the court declined this request on the reasonable grounds he might not return - and in March 2006, after five years of custody, never having been convicted of a crime, he died of a heart attack.

Over a hundred million dollars was spent on the trial, Milosevic was incarcerated for five years, and yet died an innocent man. Credible medical opinion has it that he could have been successfully treated for his heart condition.

So the whole thing was a complete fiasco, as you would expect if you give a bunch of lawyers unlimited time and unlimited money. They inevitably wanted to string out the gravy train forever.

Since the maximum penalty Milosevic faced was life in prison, the prosecutors should have picked out their strongest couple of murders, enough to justify the maximum sentence, and used them to nail him. In the UK a murder trial can be done and dusted in two weeks' court time.

The fault, though, lies at the political level; lawyers cannot be expected to control their appetites.

There are lessons here for the Karadzic trial.


Friday, 23 October 2009

Nick Griffin on Question Time

So yesterday evening, Nick Griffin, chairman of the BNP, entered the belly of the beast and appeared on BBC1’s Question Time. Also on the panel with him were Jack Straw, the Justice Minister, Baroness Warsi, a Tory who failed to get elected as an MP and so became a “lady”, Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrats’ home affairs spokesman and failed leadership contender, and Bonnie Greer, a black American playwright who seemed to think the Romans arrived in Britain hot on the heels of a retreating ice cap at the end of the last ice age and that we’re all descended from Neanderthals. (Perhaps she was just talking about herself; personally I’m Cro-Magnon.)

This blog hoped, even expected, that the BBC, having been forced by considerations of fairness to invite Griffin onto the programme, would play it with a straight bat and let the politicians slug it out while David Dimbleby acted as impartial chairman of the debate. This blog even expected that there would be some BNP supporters in the audience, just like all the other political parties were represented in the audience.

Unfortunately this blog was disappointed. There were few BNP supporters in the audience, if any, and they were certainly not called upon to speak. This blogger applied to go in the audience but was turned down (after some debate amongst the production team it seems, going by the number of phones calls and the lateness of the hour at which they finally decided the answer was, “no”.) The audience was massively “ethnic” – unlike normal Question Times – white faces were few and far between.

And David Dimbleby did not act as neutral chairman; he actually attempted to choreograph the other panellists’ attacks on Nick Griffin, telling them to take turns attacking him rather than all wading in at the same time.

The programme started badly for Nick, and then got worse. As he came in the studio and was introduced the audience hissed; a vulgar reception that likely would not have happened with a regular audience.

All the questions asked to the panel were effectively aimed at Nick; and all the questions were implicitly hostile. Never did a BNP supporter get to ask a question or make a point. Never did David Dimbleby say, “Now I’d like to hear from BNP supporters in the audience,” as he would for any other political party.

Each of the other panellists had a script in front of them and spent most of the programme reading out accusations to Nick Griffin and then not letting him answer them. Even David Dimbleby had brought along his own bill of charges. Griffin, manfully but mistakenly I think, tried to answer the accusations. Frankly he should have realised he was a long way behind enemy lines and was never going to get a fair hearing; he should have concentrated on communicating the BNP’s policy to the viewers at home. However, he was probably somewhat constrained by the fact that the last time he was totally candid on the subject of Islam he was filmed by an undercover BBC crew and spent the next two years at Leeds Crown Court trying (and succeeding) in keeping himself out of jail.

He should also have reassured the many ethnics who effectively asked him to where they would be deported if the BNP had its way. NG never told them categorically that since they were British citizens they would not be deported anywhere; they are welcome to live in this country forever – provided they are law-abiding and acquired their citizenship lawfully. The tabloid scare-mongering that the BNP wants “all blacks out” seems reluctant to die. Likewise NG should have stated categorically that the BNP is not Nazi, fascist, racist or socialist. Many members of the public don’t realise this, and the LibLabCon triumvirate have a vested interest in keeping the myth alive.

Nick Griffin needs some basic media training. He needs to be told to sit up straight, to keep his hands away from his face when speaking and not to appease other panellists or members of the audience and that it doesn’t matter if everyone in the room hates him - they are only a couple of hundred individuals – the real audience is the million-plus people watching from their sitting rooms, and they are not hand-picked “ethnics” but in the main the native peoples of these islands who are seriously concerned about immigration, Islamification, the EU, and the economic incompetence of the present government.

Ironically there was much better programme on BBC1 straight after QT - This Week, chaired by Andrew Neil, featuring the cosy couple Diane Abbot and Michael Portillo, with guest Alan Davis – aka Jonathan Creek or the guy who always loses on QI.

Diane Abbot was worried that Nick Griffin’s performance on Question Time would have won him the sympathy vote from the northern working classes. She also said the Labour Party had taken its working class vote for granted because they have nowhere else to go – and it turns out they did have somewhere else to go – the BNP.

Alan Davis, showing a lot more perspicacity than he does on QI, reckoned that the only real way to defeat the BNP was to address the issues which concern BNP supporters rather than just attacking the leader. This, of course, is completely true but it’s close to inconceivable that any of the LibLabCon would actually take that to heart.

This morning’s papers are full of reviews claiming Nick Griffin has been shown up; is a broken man; was soundly trounced. And yet – the online opinion polls at the very same papers are showing growing support, and of course, the BNP website has collapsed under the load of the interest generated - again.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

BNP vs the Generals

Four former soldiers have obliquely criticised the BNP for using military imagery in their publicity.

General Sir Mike Jackson and General Sir Richard Dannatt, the former heads of the Army, Lord Guthrie of Craigiebank, former Chief of the Defence Staff, and Major-General Patrick Cordingley, commander of the Desert Rats in the Gulf War, have all put their names to a letter to a new political operation called Nothing British

The letter says:

We, the undersigned, are increasingly concerned that the reputation of Britain’s Armed Services is being tarnished by political extremists who are attempting to appropriate it for their own dubious ends.

We deplore this trend for two reasons.

First, the values of these extremists - many of whom are essentially racist - are fundamentally at odds with the values of the modern British military such as tolerance and fairness. Commonwealth soldiers, who comprise about 10% of the Services, represent an invaluable contribution to the success of Britain’s military, both in history and the current day. Many have won the highest awards.

Second, the reputation of our Armed Forces was won over centuries of service in some of the most difficult areas of the world. Political extremists should claim no right to share in this proud heritage.

We call on all those who seek to hi-jack the good name of Britain’s military for their own advantage to cease and desist.

General The Lord Guthrie GCB, LVO, OBE, DL
General Sir Mike Jackson GCB, CBE, DSO, DL
General Sir Richard Dannatt GBC, CBE, MC
Major-General Patrick Cordingley DSO

Now, it is true that the BNP uses imagery from the World Wars, the Falklands, etc, in its publicity material. And why not? The public needs to be shown the sacrifices their ancestors made, the lives lost, to give the current British peoples the safety and comfort they now enjoy; they need to be shown that their current lifestyle was hard-won and should not lightly be discarded; nor allowed to be sold to the highest bidder by traitorous politicians.

The above named august generals have made one big arrogant assumption: that they, the top brass with scrambled egg on their shoulders have the right to control British military imagery. Generals did not make the great sacrifices to get us where we are today - the other ranks and private soldiers did that, as they have always done through-out the centuries of British history.

A Russian officer at Crimea noted that the British army was composed of, "Lions led by donkeys." The above named generals should reflect on which side of that equation they lie.

Nothing British can be shown, with the least amount of research, to be a Conservative Party-aligned organisation of very recent vintage. It seems to have been established specifically to oppose the BNP. Welcome to the club! This is both encouraging and stupid.

Encouraging because it means they're feeling some pain. They are starting to fear the BNP, as well they should. Stupid because the BNP mainly takes votes from former Labour supporters. Up to a point, the better the BNP does, the better the Tories will do at the polls.

It seems clear that the retired generals (and note, no-one from the air force or navy) have nailed their colours to a new mast and are confident of preferment under the expected Conservative government.

Nothing British
Stolen Valour campaign
Times article
BNP's analysis

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

True UK public debt

The Centre for Policy Studies, usually referred to as a "right-wing think-tank" has done some sums on the UK government's debt - adding back in all the things the government likes to leave out, such as the pension liabilities, Network Rail's debt, the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) debt, etc.

The debt clock beside this post says (as I write this) the debt is £836 billion...

The CPS says...

So the real debt is 2.2 trillion pounds. Yikes! And note they based their figures on a headline debt of £805 billion, because they wrote the report a few days ago.

Also they missed out a big one - nuclear decommissioning. Add £73 billion for that.

On the plus side, we might, just might, be able to claw back some of the banking bail out money by selling the state-owned banks as going concerns at some point in the fuure.

The report is here.

Friday, 16 October 2009

BNP vs CEHR, no score draw--so far

As you know the Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR) is taking legal action in the London County Court against the BNP to force the party to open its membership to ethnic minorities. Since the party was founded to represent the natives of these islands this doesn't come naturally.

However the BNP has now promised to look at changing the party's constitution to bring it into line with what the CEHR considers lawful. On the basis of this promise the judge has adjourned the case until the 28th January next year. There was a price however for stopping the case - the party had to promise to take on no new members until its constitution is changed and approved by the judge. An Emergency General Meeting will be held next month to consider this.

This membership freeze of course explains why the party has recently been bombarding its supporter base with offers of discounted life membership, said offers being accompanied by such a sternly worded warning that they were very time-limited that all recipients could hardly fail to see the writing on the wall. The party has been trying to draw in all potential members before the gates had to be shut. Now they are shut; they may not re-open until next year.

There is a downside to this. Next week the BNP chairman, Nick Griffin, is scheduled to appear on BBC1's Question Time, which is more mainstream publicity than the party has ever had. This could have swelled the membership quite substantially. Now applications will have to be put on ice until the party is allowed to re-open its doors.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Islamification of Trafalgar Square

Islam for the UK, a hard-line muslim organisation, who seem convinced that the blanket imposition of Sharia Law is imminent in the UK are planning a march on the 31st of October.

They will start outside parliament, then visit the Prime Minister at Downing Street (in practice, of course, they won't actually get into Downing Street - there are big black gates to stop that sort of thing) and then on to Trafalgar Square, picking up supporters from the general public along the way.

In preparation for this they have redesigned the Square to make it Sharia-compliant. First, that statue of Nelson must go - statues are idolatry. Here's the new one...

The column remains but Nelson has been replaced with a clock programmed to sound out the call to prayer five times a day. Above the clock you can see the black flag of Islam.

The bronze lions guarding Nelson will be melted down. They are also heretical. The bronze will be used to make artillery pieces, because Islam for the UK are expecting an attack by France. (This is slightly bizarre, France is much further down the road to Islam than us - they will be Islamic first.)

However the changes are not all bad. They also plan to put out pots of gold coins so that the poor may help themselves. The pots will be replenished as required; although they don't expect that to be very often since under Sharia everyones needs will be taken care of anyway, so there won't be any poor.

My suggestion would be to put out the pots now and not wait for full Sharia as that could take a while.

Islam4UK - March

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

September's inflation numbers are out

CPI was 1.1% on the year, down from 1.6 last month.

RPI was -1.4%, down from -1.3 last month.

The significance is limited. The numbers are still being flattered by the halving of world oil prices eight months ago. Oil has since gone back up and is now around $72 per barrel. The reduced VAT rate is holding inflation down.

The temporary VAT reduction will be reversed at the end of the year and by February the oil price drop will have fallen off the back-end of the year-on-year statistics.

Meanwhile sterling is continuing to fall against the euro and other world currencies and this will make imported goods more expensive. Inflation is set to return to the UK economy.


Blanchflower shows his true colours

Meet Professor Blanchflower, one of the architects of our current economic situation...

Prof Blanchflower: Seagull economist

Blanchflower was a member the BoE's MPC for three years between 2007 and 2009. As such he helped set the UK's base interest rate. He has joint British-American nationality and is a full time resident of the USA where he teaches at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire.

During his time on the MPC he pioneered "seagull" economics which is the practice of flying in for the monthly meeting, making a loud squawking sound, crapping on everyone and then flying out again. Later he improved on this by not turning up at all - just participating by telephone.

Blanchflower persistently voted for lower interest rates at a time when public and private debt levels were soaring in the UK. He wanted to pour petrol on the fire to put it out. He was often out of line with the other MPC members.

MPC-watchers were baffled by his position, but today all becomes clear. The MPC was aiming to keep inflation under 2 percent, but in a Guardian article Professor Blanchflower has now announced he thinks the target should be five percent. He thinks a nice dose of inflation would wipe out people's debt and one can't help but wonder if, during his tenure on the MPC, he wasn't actually trying to get inflation up while the others were trying to get it down.

Of course, he's right. Inflation does wipe out debt. Well, WAGE-inflation wipes out debt, price inflation by itself doesn't. Traditionally the two inflations go hand in hand: wages go up, prices go up, debt is in relative terms reduced.

On the downside savers lose their savings; pensioners on fixed incomes are reduced to penury; people with no debt effectively subsidise the indebted.

Inflation is just government theft; a tax in all but name.

Inflation typically transfers wealth from the poor who don't own inflation-proof assets (houses, gold, foreign currency) to the rich who do - and who probably purchased those assets using debt.

And in our current economic predicament it's worth bearing in mind that WAGE-inflation and PRICE-inflation may not be as linked as old-school economists think. These days a lot of wages are set on the international markets; jobs move abroad if workers get too expensive. If the government relaxes the fight against inflation we could easily get price inflation without wage inflation.


Thursday, 8 October 2009

Iceland is in hot water

Here in the UK we don’t generally appreciate how much hardball our government is playing with Iceland. Not since the “cod wars” of the 1970s when the Royal Navy was used to force access for British fishing boats into Iceland’s 200 mile territorial limit have relations been so bad. The Icelanders deeply resent us for the actions of our government – and yet most British citizens are oblivious to the situation.

Let us remind ourselves of some recent history. In the Autumn of last year Iceland’s three largest banks, Glitnir, Kaupthing and Landsbanki collapsed, seemingly as a result of some of their major shareholders deciding the game was up and emptying the vaults by making large loans to themselves. The Icelandic government took control of the banks and pledged to underwrite their liabilities, a sum of about 40 billion euros, this being nearly five times Iceland’s GDP. If government hadn’t done this Iceland would have been reduced to anarchy.

The Icelandic currency, the krona (ISK) fell by thirty-five percent; the stock market fell by ninety percent and was shut for two days.

In the UK hundreds of thousands of savers with “Icesave”, a brand name of Landsbanki, who had been attracted by several years of higher-than-normal interest rates, were unable to access their money. The website was down. To stop panic spreading into the rest of the British banking system the chancellor, Alistair Darling, said the British government would give individual savers all their money back. (Institutional savers such as local authorities, police forces and fire departments were left high and dry and are still out of pocket.) To recoup some of the money to do this he froze the remaining Landsbanki assets using anti-terrorist legislation, in a move which may not have been legal – but nobody in the UK is complaining.

Meanwhile in Iceland the government bailed out its own citizens 100% using funds that strictly speaking should have gone to British savers.

The current situation is that Iceland is in a deep recession, possibly its GDP will fall ten percent this year and inflation may reach 75%. Draconian foreign currency restrictions have been imposed. Citizens cannot hold foreign currency at all and must surrender any foreign cash that comes into their possession. All foreign currency is earmarked for food, medicine or oil.

Several foreign countries are chasing Iceland to pay its debts – 50bn euros in total, which Iceland simply cannot afford. And the UK government wants 5.5% interest until Iceland pays up, despite the UK base rate being 0.5% at the moment.

The British government is putting pressure on the IMF to put pressure on Iceland to start paying. The IMF’s leverage comes from the fact that it is supporting Iceland’s currency which is vital to Iceland because most big debts in Iceland, eg people’s mortgages, are denominated in other currencies, mainly the euro, and if the krona falls their repayments will become unaffordable. If the IMF withdrew its currency support just about every Icelandic citizen could suffer personal bankruptcy, either due to direct costs or knock-on effects.

The British government is also blocking Iceland’s application to join the European Union. (That said, the Icelanders no-longer have a majority in favour of joining the EU.)

The Icelandic government is trying to negotiate payment terms for its debt. It has offered to pay the UK 4% of all GDP growth until its debt is repaid (and 2% to the Netherlands, another big creditor nation due to Landsbanki having been very active there.) Linking debt repayment to GDP growth is quite a smart move for Iceland as it would give foreign governments a strong incentive not to impose economic sanctions while at the same time postponing the pain for Icelandic citizens. The British government, however, does not accept these terms. It wants repayment to start immediately.

Meanwhile Icelanders are voting with their feet. Each Icelandic taxpayer has a notional debt of a quarter of a million euros, which implies a lifetime, or even many generations, of debt servicing. The obvious solution for any Icelander, especially a young one with no krona-denominated assets such as a house, is to leave the country and seek their fortune elsewhere. Emigration is endemic – there is a real risk of Iceland becoming depopulated – leaving behind only non-tax-paying old retired people.

Meanwhile, over in Latvia the situation is worse.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Double standards at the BBC

When Strictly Come Dancing contender Laila Rouass emerged from her fake tanning session her professional partner Anton Du Beke (originally, Anthony Beke) exclaimed, "You look like a Paki!"

Laila & "Anton"

Rouass is half-Indian/half-Morrocan so presumably looks a little "like a Paki" at the best of times. About 15 people heard this remark and before long the BBC thought police had dived in. The case was somewhat reminiscent of Carol Thatcher, who said a black tennis player's hair looked like, "a golliwog's".

The outcome however was very different.

Anton Du Beke apologised and that was the end of the matter as far as the BBC was concerned. Carol Thatcher apologised and was fired.

Why the different standards? One suspects that Carol was being punished for the sins of her mother.

Daily Mirror

Irish vote to adopt Lisbon treaty

As expected then, the Irish have voted by 67% to 33% to adopt the Lisbon treaty. It seems those who changed their vote think the EU will somehow help them with their crashing property market and their 12% unemployment.

So, just Poland and the Czech Republic to go. Poland is expected to sign within the next few days - the Czech parliament has voted and passed the treaty but it has to be okayed by their constitutional court. It remains to be seen how much of an obstacle that will be.

Then it's a done deal.

Let us remind ourselves of some of the provisions of the Lisbon treaty:

  • Legal "personality" for the EU. It can make its own treaties; declare war; sue you for libel if you critise it.

  • Changes the name of members from "countries" to "states". Guess where this is leading?

  • Can force member states to change their domestic law against their will. Expect a holocaust-denial law real soon now.

  • Gives the EU total control over our fishing grounds.

  • Forces every member to provide every other member with unlimited military assistance.

  • There's an escalator clause which allows new clauses to be added without re-ratification. In this sense it's the "last" treaty. In the future new provisions can be quietly implemented without drama, just a vote in the European council.

  • They can change the voting rules on the fly. Something which requires unanimity today could become qualified majority voting tomorrow.

  • There's a two year lock-in. This could be considered a good thing since previous EU treaties didn't have get out clauses at all. But the lock-in is very onerous. The departing member immediately loses all voting rights but is still bound by all EU rules for the next two years.

So it's a major assault on democracy and self-determination. Even a Europhile should be opposed to it.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Minor fomality in Ireland

Today the Irish are voting to adopt the Lisbon Treaty - the renamed EU constitution. (It's not being called the constitution anymore because we were promised a referendum on the constitution; no, it's just a treaty.)

The Irish have to vote today because last time they voted they got it wrong and voted no. Not a single word, dot or comma has been changed in the text since they voted in June last year. None-the-less this blog expects a yes vote.

The Irish have been cowed by the recession, theirs is even worse than ours, and they have lost any backbone they once had.

Of course, they may prove me wrong - we should know sometime tomorrow afternoon.

Body cavity bombs

Well, it had to happen, didn't it? Al Qaeda have mastered the art of remotely detonating a bomb located in a terrorist's rectum. Said terrorist managed to pass magnetometer tests to get close to his intended target Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef, head of Saudi Arabia's counter terrorism operations. The Prince was only slightly hurt but the room they were in was trashed.

Abdullah Asieri: Explosive terrorist

The implications for air travel are immediately obvious. Anyone who has a metal replacement joint, eg a new hip, can tell you that they aren't generally detected at airports. The flesh around the metal masks it quite effectively, although hand wands can sense it. At the very least a procedural change will be required. At high altitude even a small explosion breaching the aircraft's skin could be enough to crash the vehicle.

It seems that Abdullah Asieri shown above was body-packing about a pound of C4 and the electronics necessary for remote detonation. A more intensive security screening, perhaps involving sniffer dogs, would have detected him.

But there are worse possibilities. With the assistance of medical personnel, and it seems Al Qaeda have such people in their ranks, it would be possible to introduce several pints of a liquid explosive into a plastic bag in a human colon via the anus.

This is what 16 ounces of nitroglycerine did to an aircraft fuselage in a controlled detonation...

16oz liquid bomb

Using a timed chemical detonator the liquid explosive would be practically undetectable.

Probably the only reason Al Qaeda have not yet done this is, ironically, it would cause too few casualties - only the occupants of the aircraft would be killed, and probably out at sea where there would be little prospect of addition damage on the ground.

Perhaps they are waiting until they can bring down several trans-atlantic aircraft at the same time.

This strikes me as being one of those situations where there will be a major attack and then the authorities will say they knew it was a possibility but the public would never have accepted the intrusive nature of the precautions that would have been necessary to prevent it.

I wonder how long colonoscopy will add to your check-in time.

CBS report
BBC video