Socialist Worker

Riot on ice

Issue No. 1789

Many people won't remember the Winter Olympics in the US's Salt Lake City for the curling or ice dancing. Instead their memory will be of rubber bullets, baton-wielding riot cops and Black Hawk helicopters. Last Saturday night hundreds of local people celebrating the end of the Olympics were suddenly told the downtown Bud World bar was closing early.

As they spilled into the street they were met with hundreds of riot cops, who started pushing and shoving people. One witness, Brandon Bulough, who was later injured when shot with a rubber bullet, said, 'The cops came marching in and everyone got mad.'

As well as firing rubber bullets, police waded in with billy clubs. Press photographers were also beaten by police. Soon Black Hawk helicopters swooped over the Salt Lake streets, and police armed with M-16 rifles joined the fray. Over 20 people were arrested and several were injured.

Wealthy voting

THE GULF state of Bahrain is to hold parliamentary elections for the first time in 27 years. But don't get the idea that this is a new wind of democracy sweeping through the oil-rich pro-Western Gulf states.

Bahrain's rulers have come up with a little scam. Property owners from the five neighbouring states of Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates will get a vote to help ensure 'stability'.

A former adviser to Tony Blair has put forward his answer to tackling poverty. Liam Byrne says the poor are 'confused'. Byrne says the problem is the 'risk-averse atmosphere which hangs over deprived areas'. Funny, we always thought poverty was not having enough money.

Straw's Capita trouble

LESS THAN a year ago the New Labour council in Blackburn signed a £205 million 15-year deal to hand services including housing benefit to private firm Capita. The deal was cheered by the local MP, foreign secretary Jack Straw.

Last week the council was forced to demand that Capita sorts its act out. Housing benefit claims now take an average of 74 days to process. This has led to claimants fearing they could face eviction because of arrears.

Experience at losing money

'Rewarding failure' seems to be home secretary David Blunkett's new motto. He is bunging £200 million of public money to a new company, Experience Corps, to mobilise older people to do voluntary work.

The choice to head the new company is Maggie Semple. Her distinguished record includes real experience in wasting even bigger sums of money as director of the New Millennium Experience company.

Toff 'n' robber

AN 'ENGLISH gentleman' has been jailed after conning his own family out of over £4 million. Roderick Shand was a Cambridge-educated businessman. He was sent down for two years after being found guilty of stealing the money from his family's printing and envelope business.

Roderick's rich pal admitted, 'Most people would have been happy earning £150,000 a year, but Roderick wanted more.'

Pictures can lie

'I don't want people like that in Australia.' That was the declaration of the Australian prime minister, John Howard. He released photographs like that on the left showing children in lifejackets floating in the Indian Ocean.

He accused asylum seekers of deliberately throwing their children overboard. In fact the full image shows people desperately clinging to an already sinking ship and swimming to a liferaft.

No royal barking

There was a bit of misty-eyed creative writing in the Times's account of Princess Margaret's funeral.

Laura Peek wrote of 'the dappled reflection of neatly trimmed fir trees' in the crematorium windows and the 'yap of greyhounds from nearby Slough dog track'. In fact the dog track closed 14 years ago. Facts were never a key issue for Times and Sun owner Rupert Murdoch.

Things they say

'FOREIGN trade should be conducted in accordance with the mechanism and principles of capitalism.'
KIM JONG-IL, the leader of North Korea who Bush accused of being part of the 'axis of evil'

'WHEN SO many people are worrying about what their pension will actually be worth when they retire, it seems inopportune timing to announce that taxpayers are to fund an increase in pensions for MPs.'

'THE NEW Labour torch will never go out. Nor are the lights going out on my political career. But I'm not going back into government even if I'm asked.'

'THE BIG picture is that the government has got to have a relationship with business.'
PATRICIA HEWITT, New Labour trade and industry secretary

'EVEN IF a minister is not aware of the donation, nobody is going to believe that.'
CHARLES CLARKE, Labour Party chairman

'My campaign is not socialist.'
LIONEL JOSPIN, French Socialist Party prime minister, announcing his bid to become the country's president

'MY treatment at St Thomas's accident and emergency in London was excellent. In the States they'd ask for your credit card first.'
BEVERLY MALONE, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing

'BUSH IS behaving like a Wild West sheriff. When the time of a trial comes, the sheriff will look around and there won't be any deputies there.'
DONALD ANDERSON, Labour right winger and chairman of the parliamentary foreign affairs committee

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Article information

Inside the System
Sat 2 Mar 2002, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1789
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