New light was shed on the connections between big business and the US government in an article in the Guardian last week. It exposed the activities of the Carlyle group-or what it dubbed 'the ex-presidents' club'.
The Carlyle group includes ex-president George Bush Sr and his Secretary of State James Baker, former Tory prime minister John Major and former World Bank treasurer Afsaneh Masheyekhi. And until last month the firm's multi-million dollar investors included a Saudi family-namely that of Osama Bin Laden.
Carlyle owns companies which make equipment, vehicles and munitions for the US military machine. As the Guardian article puts it, 'Carlyle has become the thread which indirectly links American military policy to the personal financial fortunes of its celebrity employees, not least the president's own father.'
George Bush Sr gives speeches for the company at $80,000 dollars a time. Carlyle's chairman is Frank Carlucci, Ronald Reagan's defence secretary and a former CIA director. Carlucci met with Bush's Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld in February when several important defence contracts were being signed.
One of the firms bought up by Carlyle is United Defence, which makes, among other weapons, vertical missile launch systems. They are currently being used on US navy ships in the Arabian Sea.
Jason's cut off
Spare a thought for poor Jason Pickthall. Jason was founder of mobile phone company the Phone People. His success saw him hit number ten on the Sunday Times 'Rich List'. He was so confident of going from riches to riches, that he turned down the opportunity to sell his company to Orange for £37 million.
Later Jason was forced to sell his stake in the company for a much lower rate. And when the firm crashed this year, Jason was told to hand over the cash from the sale-but he had already spent it. Now he has had to sell his mansion and his Ferrari.
Face facts award
New 'Nurse of the Year' Amanda Howarth spoke out against the government's health record hours before she was given the award by health secretary Alan Milburn.
She said, 'They are raising people's hopes up and the general public have great expectations that very soon things will be better. But from my experience of the way things are now, the management and services are still in a bad way, and they are going to take a lot of time to sort out. Each day I see people having to wait a long time for scans and beds and I don't see that changing in the future.'
A New report on poverty in London by the Children's Rights Commission has uncovered deprivation across the capital. It found that some 1.65 million children, 43 percent, are living in poverty. Around 74 percent of children under 16 in east London's Tower Hamlets live in households dependent on means tested benefits.
The report also shows that more than a quarter of London's children have free school meals. In Tower Hamlets this figure rises to 55 percent in primary schools.
Only two ways to go at CNN
The broadcaster CNN is instructing all its correspondents to put a 'pro-American stamp' on its broadcasts about the war. CNN wants to stop its viewers seeing the bloody reality of the casualties of US bombing.
It claims it is 'perverse to focus too much on the casualties or hardship in Afghanistan'. News presenters will be required to end each report with a formula:
'We must keep in mind, after seeing reports like this, that the Taliban regime in Afghanistan continues to harbour terrorists who have praised the 11 September attacks that killed close to 5,000 innocent people in the US.'
Alternatively they can say, 'The Pentagon has repeatedly stressed that it is trying to minimise civilian casualties in Afghanistan, even as the Taliban regime continues to harbour terrorists who are connected to the 11 September attacks that claimed thousands of innocent lives in the US.'
The US is spending $200 billion on a fighter aircraft built by Lockheed Martin.
The cost of the fighter is:
- Ten times the gross domestic product (GDP) of Afghanistan.
- Equal to the entire GDP of Pakistan.
- Some 3.5 times higher than the GDP of Iraq.
- More than the GDP of all the countries of Central America combined.
Some have been rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of future profits after the 11 September attacks. A letter sent to 3,000 wealthy Lloyd's 'names' boasts of how they stand to make huge profits.
A newsletter from the Association of Lloyd's Members contains a report called 'The Terrorist Attacks on the United States-Part One: The Opportunity'. 'Names may now have an historic opportunity for profitable underwriting,' it says. 'The market was hardening strongly before the attacks, but since 11 September rates have shot up to a level where very large profits are possible.'
Although in the short term Lloyd's names may have to fork out to provide funds, the Financial Times reports: 'Many existing names are increasing their exposure, however, hoping to trade out of their current losses and possibly turn a profit.'
Things they say
'Attention, noble Afghan people. As you know, the coalition countries have been air-dropping daily humanitarian rations for you. The food ration is enclosed in yellow plastic bags. In areas away from where food has been dropped, cluster bombs will also be dropped. The colour of these bombs is also yellow.'
US radio broadcast to Afghanistan
'Send spongers packing before we are overrun.'
Former Tory minister DAVID MELLOR, describing Afghans fleeing the Taliban regime, People, 13 February 2000
'They are monsters, and this is the evil of the Dark Ages- extermination on a scale that might even shock Hitler or Stalin.'
DAVID MELLOR describing the Taliban regime from which the refugees have fled, People, 30 September 2001
'No matter where B-52 planes drop their bombs it is a significant emotional event for anyone within a square mile.'
CARL VINSON, an officer on board a US aircraft carrier, on the carpet-bombing of Afghanistan
'It is not likely, in my personal view, that the Taliban will give up.'
ADMIRAL MICHAEL BOYCE
'Military action is only making things more difficult, especially if the war goes on for a long time and many civilians are killed.'
ABDUL HAQ, Afghan leader seen as a friend of the US, before his death at the hands of the Taliban two weeks ago
'The US is trying to show its muscle, score a victory and scare everyone in the world. They don't care about the suffering of the Afghans or how many people we will lose.'