Bob’s Your Uncle! Prince Charles gives legs up to unidentified food supplier in letter to health minister

In this letter, Prince Charles pushes an initiative which links hospital catering to local farmers’ hubs. He hails the leader of the project at Royal Brompton Hospital, named in the letter as Mike Duckett, and a hospital food supplier, whose name has been redacted.

The unnamed man acts as a middle man selling fresh food to retailers, restauranteurs and the public sector, Charles explains.

The Prince writes:

Mike says that buying seasonal, fresh (and, wherever possible, organic) food has ensured patients enjoy better quality and more flavoured food, which has retained its natural nutrients and so their health has, of course, benefitted. And because they enjoy eating it, waste has been minimised.

He adds:

At the same time (redacted) is giving farmers in Kent a secure and consistent market for their produce which, as you can imagine, makes all the difference.


Flag, by John Agard

What’s that fluttering in the breeze? It’s just a piece of cloth that brings a nation to its knees.

What’s that unfurling from a pole? It’s just a piece of cloth That makes the guts of men grow bold.

What’s that rising over the tent? It’s just a piece of cloth that dares the coward relent.

What’s that flying across a field? It’s just a piece of cloth that will outlive the blood you bleed.

How can I possess such a cloth? Just ask for a flag my friend. Then blind your conscience to the end.

John Agard

Why the pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren’t going to back down because ‘China isn’t going to budge anyway’


The party has backed down before, they will do so again. In isolated parts of China such as Tibet and Xinjiang where they have more control over the communication and protests and a freer hand to control their internal affairs it’s harder for international condemnation and repercussions, and therefore harder for people to speak out.

In Hong Kong, with the 1.C.2.S., an international community ever watching and being the gateway into China there are absolutely 0 ways China can crack down on this. After the TS Massacre and the leaked video showing all the violence and the infamous tank man video, China now knows its cannot have another repeat of such magnitude. Especially now when it has international economic and trade deals that would suffer severely if they ever decided to crush the main focus and origin of all these deals, because that is the very existence and purpose of Hong Kong and any crackdown on Hong Kong would only cause China to harm itself.

As to the Mainland government not being able to back down from us, I have a few examples of when they have:

When the video of the TS Massacre was released, 1 million people marched in the streets of Hong Kong demanding not to be handed over. This of course still happened but it happened on international terms, and the basis of one country, two systems with all our liberties guaranteed were pressed for more heavily by the British and the local authorities. The PLA actually had to SNEAK into Hong Kong to not alarm anyone! They ran to their newly occupied barracks with their tails tucked between their legs!

500,000 people marched in the streets last decade and caused Tung Che Wah to resign. we overthrew our own “government selected” Chief Executive! And China couldn’t even raise a finger.

Now tomorrow we ‘celebrate’ the birth of China. I may not have to remind you but others may not know… China in it’s current form was born in revolution. We aspire to remember the wars fought against the corrupt Kuomintang and their dictatorial ways through the remembrance of National day.

You say it’s hopeless because there is no way the government will back down? I wonder what those warriors back in 1935-1949 would say to us now, if anyone came to them and said “Ah, there is no point in rising up, protesting against the Japanese occupation force/KMT government, we can’t possibly sway them and convince them.” How about the Boxer revolution in 1898-1900, or the Xinhai revolution in 1911, when the people rose up. “Ah, there is no point, they won’t budge in their opinion.”

At the same time I hope it doesn’t come to violence in Hong Kong, and it shows in the way we act on the street, the politeness, the lack of looting, we are ready for dialogue and we offer an olive branch but we’ll make sure we’re heard too. There are no guns in the streets, only umbrellas.

Now the voices of revolution echo through the streets again, this time against the communist party. You can’t have it one way but not the other. China cannot sit idly under such hypocrisy, espousing the benefits of the power of the people while denying ours. And they cannot once again hit the olive branch out of the hand of the public with tanks and guns because the world is watching.

Change is the only constant, and China as a government has very few options, how it chooses to repeat history only time will tell but the people will never stop asking for more because that is their role as a people.

‘No’ votes in the Scottish referendum correlated with disposable income

The Securitisation of Oil and the new Islamic State

The Islamic State (of Iraq and the Levant – ‘ISIS’) currently controls key parts of an area larger than the U.K., and a not insignificant population base. This territory holds oil, which is then sold on the black market and is ostensibly used to fund terrorist operations. This is important because other terrorist organisations that are often funded near entirely by donations that can be easily squeezed by better law enforcement, sanctions, or just basic diplomacy.

Areas under ISIS control

ISIS sells oil at below market prices, a rate which creates added incentives for small-scale middlemen or troubled regional actors for them to take (and cover up) the risk. To put this in perspective, ISIS would be selling oil from as low as $25/barrel; it is rumoured that even Assad is buying oil (in a very unholy alliance).

The revenues from oil are estimated to be around $2m a day, with approximately half of its 80,000 barrels a day capacity being produced. This can increase its ability to conduct terrorist operations more frequently and with greater competency, and the group’s ability to project power in general. A study by RAND supported the idea that increased revenues resulted in increased terrorist attacks (see page 74 onwards).

Whilst ISIS does tax cities, and hold the local population under its control for rents, they also have a duty to administrate, govern, and keep the streets clean. It is not clear how much money this will cost them, but it could be an issue, that it is easy for ISIS to capture cities but not to hold or make use of them.

To sum up, whilst ISIS are often depicted as simply a bunch of militants and gunners, they are not. They have engineers, doctors, and businessmen at their disposal. They also have the potential for legitimacy in the eyes of the local population, if they use oil to provide basic governmental services – something other groups in the Syrian Civil War were unable to do.

It’s also worth noting that ISIS mainly exports crude oil, but is making pushes for a large refinery base in Baiji. Exporting refined oil would be more profitable and maybe even less risky.


The OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), Pal states, is “an organisation deliberately engaged in policy transfer”. He illustrates the OECD’s role through interviews, survey data, survey responses from academics, and other sources through a mixed-method approach which gives a deep qualitative background. However, this makes the work much less open and concise, meaning it may not suit a generalist academic audience.

Emergence of governance and public management as a “policy area”

This section outlines how some universal standards of good governance emerged through ideas of ‘modernisation’, the global importance of state governance, and the new challenges that states faced with globalisation and greater accountability. This is an ongoing development, as though modernisation is not such a concern as it was in the 1990s and 2000s, the challenges in the aftermath of the financial crisis play a larger role.

Public sector reform in the past was mostly believed to be a domestic matter, and it was not until the 1990s that organisations such as the World Bank showed much interest in reforming domestic state institutions. This is similar to part of Pal’s view of the OECD, as an organisation that increasingly engaged public management issues in response to member state’s demands from the 1980s onward.

International government organisations and policy transfer

Pal argues that the collapse of the Soviet Union enabled an unprecedented level of policy transfer and implementation from the West to post-Soviet states. It was disappointing that the author did not use this as an opportunity to make more conclusions from comparative analysis, given the range of different states and policies implemented over the same time period. However, the section is brief and broad, giving a useful overview of international policy transfer and borrows heavily from relevant literature.

Multilateral organisations, NGOs (non- governmental organisations), foundations, and states themselves, all play active roles in spreading policy and promoting values or ideas such as democracy in Eastern Europe.

A study of international organisations such as the OSCE and the EU highlight how the universal standards of good governance are not well-defined. In the study, there were conflicting aims held when introducing markets and the democratic process.

Nuanced views of foreign models implemented in Central and Eastern Europe are highlighted, which show that there were different motivations for countries to adopt reforms. Poland, for example, worked on a ‘shock’/bold  programme that enabled it to later join the EU. Overall, economic and political reform were classed as more urgent than administrative, which slowed the process of administrative reform.


Reform is not exclusive to the 20th and 21st centuries. The Meiji restoration in Japan (modelled after Western states), or Peter the Great’s administrative reforms in Russia (influenced by Germany and Sweden). However, there is a heavy association to contemporary globalisation due to the post-World War II world order and improvements in communication/travel.

Outlining four causal mechanisms of policy transfer, we can understand better how policy diffusion/transfer occurs:

  • Coercion: can be applied through subtle/open threats of physical force, economic pressures, and so on.This is a centralised and hierarchical mechanism, and organisations such as the IMF and the EU are examples of this.
  • Competition: demands states to adopt ‘market friendly’ reforms to attract investors and capital.  This is informal, uncoordinated, and decentralised. Whilst this often entails economic reforms, institutions are also vulnerable to the pressures of competition.
  • Policy Learning: involves countries learning from the experience of other states.
  • Emulation: occurs when policymakers are keen to copy the practice of ‘leading’ countries.

From these four causal mechanisms, it is understood that the OECD lacks coercion. However, this has enabled a good reputation when compared to other organisations such as the World Bank or IMF that impose strong conditionalities on developing countries which are often not met. The mechanisms of competition, policy learning, and emulation, however, are evident (NB: see Ch.4 on lesson drawing/emulation and the OECD). Member states use the OECD to develop standards of governance, draw lessons from the experience of other states, and the OECD itself conducts reviews on countries. The OECD is unique because many different civil servants and observers from around the world attend meetings and forums that help spread ideas and expertise.

The OECD as an organisation

The raison d’etre of the OECD, according to Pal, is “policy development, policy learning, and policy transfers through learning, research, and emulation.” Pal outlines the history of the OECD and its focus on governance in this section.

The OECD is a bureaucracy in its own right, and develops agendas that are not entirely consistent with its members, claiming instead to uphold certain values.

The OECD was founded in the 1960s as an organisation for the world’s 30 richest countries, and exchanges information with another 100 countries and has opened membership talks with others. It has no control over its members, but is a significant publisher of public policy research and analysis and aims to develop converging standards. Publications such as Governance in Transition (1995) are highly influential outside of academia.

See also Pal, L. A. (2009). The OECD and Global Public Management Reform. (Short link to PDF –

An Insight into White House Press Briefings

QUESTION: I’m sure that you are dreading – probably dreading this – but it has to do with the drones.

MS. PSAKI (White House Spokesperson): No, I’m not dreading it, Matt.

QUESTION: Oh, you got an answer.

MS. PSAKI: Fully ready for you.

QUESTION: Okay, excellent. So you want me to repeat the question from yesterday, which was essentially —

MS. PSAKI: I think your question – go ahead. Let’s see what your question is.

QUESTION: Well, let’s see if I can remember it. (Laughter.)

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: I think it was: Would the United States support a discussion of the use of drones in a broader resolution about human rights, or is it something that you think is a taboo subject for that kind of forum?

MS. PSAKI: So the answer is: Yes, and we have —

QUESTION: Yes what?

MS. PSAKI: Yes, we would support the – a discussion of the inclusion of remote-piloted aircraft, Matt.

QUESTION: Oh, okay, is that the new word for – or old —

MS. PSAKI: We have engaged on this issue in the wider context of counterterrorism and human rights. Let me give you some specific examples. So we have engaged fully on the text of this year’s Human Rights Council resolution on counterterrorism and human rights, which mentions remote-piloted aircrafts. We also co-sponsored a similar resolution on counterterrorism and human rights, which also mentioned remote-piloted aircrafts, in last year’s UN General Assembly. This specific resolution, our view is it was too narrow, it’s duplicative, it’s covered in other resolutions, but we certainly have supported in larger resolutions a discussion.

QUESTION: Okay. Can you – are you able, physically, to use the word “drone”?

QUESTION: Wouldn’t you prefer it?

MS. PSAKI: I do like the ring of remote-piloted aircrafts. So – (Laughter.)

QUESTION: How about in relation — can I get you to use it in relation to bees?

MS. PSAKI: To bees? Drone bees. Yes.

QUESTION: All right.

MS. PSAKI: True.

QUESTION: We’ll get you to say it.

QUESTION: What about Matt’s questions?

MS. PSAKI: (Laughter.) This is tricky. Getting to be a silly Friday afternoon. All right. Thanks, everyone.