Socialist Worker

Cabinet full of Frankensteins

Issue No. 1734

Just who will be pulling the strings under new US president George W Bush? Take a look at some of the key figures in Bush's new government.

John Ashcroft, the proposed attorney general, is anti-abortion and pro-execution. He is also an advocate of Genetically Modified (GM) crops. No wonder. He received $6,800 from giant GM firm Monsanto to fund his recent election campaign. During the Clinton years he led a campaign to promote GM crops in the Third World and Europe.

Tommy Tompson is Bush's proposed secretary of health and human services. That means he will have responsibility for food safety, and food and drug administration. Thompson is also a GM supporter and has also had financial backing from Monsanto. He was one of 13 state governors who launched a campaign, funded by Monsanto, to persuade Americans that GM crops were safe.

Ann Veneman, Bush's new agriculture secretary, was a director of GM company Calgene, which is now owned by Monsanto. In world trade talks she has pushed for US companies to foist GM crops on the Third World.

Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary, was president of Searle Pharmaceuticals when it was bought up by Monsanto.

Larry Combest will chair the House of Representatives agricultural committee. He got $2,000 from Monsanto during last year's election.

Clarence Thomas, the right wing judge in the supreme court, was a lawyer for Monsanto from 1977 to 1979.

Eight Democratic senators voted for John Ashcroft to be given the post of Attorney General.

The BBC has barred its journalists from using the word 'massacre' in any reports on Bloody Sunday.

The dictionary definition of massacre is 'to kill indiscriminately'.

British Paratroopers shot 13 unarmed civilians dead-a fourteenth victim died later -on 30 January, 29 years ago in Derry in Northern Ireland.

Yet the BBC, after a complaint by just one listener and his MP (it is not known which MP), decided that the use of the word massacre in relation to this particular indiscriminate killing of a number of people was 'inappropriate'.

Gums out for Blair

Trevor Bayliss, the inventor who starred in Labour's 1997 election videos enthusing about New Labour, has now turned on them.

'I've had it with them. I will never help Labour again,' he said last week. 'I have come to the slow realisation that they're all a bunch of deceitful frauds and Blair is the worst of them. He has about as much charisma as a pair of dentures grinning in a glass of water.'

Whiff of new revolt

The Swiss police were armed to the teeth against anti-capitalist protests as big business, financiers and government ministers met at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos.

One of their plans to attack demonstrators went awry. They planned to blast protesters with manure from water cannons. But local farmers refused to sell manure to the police. They said they hated the Word Economic Forum because globalisation was bad for small farmers.

Fat catrollers are unhappy with rail

Even the bosses are finding the chaos of rail privatisation too much to stomach. A survey of Britain's top 250 companies including British Airways, Glaxo SmithKline, Rentokil, Safeway and many others found:

Three quarters of finance directors and controllers said they had been late to or missed key meetings due to the rail mess.

52 percent said their employees were arriving to work later and leaving earlier, with that figure rising to 72 percent in London.

42 percent said productivity had suffered.

92 percent said the rail disruptions had a negative effect on the overall image of British industry, with 35 percent saying it had an extremely negative impact.

And nearly one quarter of company executives said the railways should be renationalised.

The Mandelson passport affair exposed how New Labour has adopted old-style Tory corruption. But Tories are still the experts.

Tory party treasurer Michael Ashcroft's BHI Offshore Financial Services sells Belize passports for $50,000.

Ashcroft's company takes a $10,000 slice of every passport sold in the scheme, which is administered by the Belize government.

Not a cure for nurse shortage

The government says it wants to recruit 20,000 new nurses in the next few years. But one in five student nurses quit before the end of their courses due to financial hardship.

And over half of the 58,000 students currently training say they are thinking of quitting because of money pressures. Student nurses are forced to live on miserly bursaries, which mean they work on the wards for just £2 an hour.

The average student nurse accumulates debts of £4,000.

Things they say

'Looks as if he's just landed from outer space.'
Disgraced Tory JEFFREY ARCHER on party leader William Hague

'There are people in my party who do not welcome into their homes ethnic minorities. They'll welcome them into Central Office and pat them on the back of the head...but not into their homes.'

'It just shows how out of touch Tony Blair is with people in the country.'
SHAUN WOODWARD, Tory MP, defending fox hunting, 1999

'Frankly it shows how out of touch William Hague has become with the people of Britain, whether they live in the town or country.'
SHAUN WOODWARD, Labour MP, on fox hunting, 2000

'This tiny town of Davos had been sanitised by military action and surrounded by barbed wire and guns. Only thus could the leaders of capitalism protect themselves.'
Journalist and broadcaster DARCUS HOWE on attempting to reach the anti-capitalist protests against the meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last month to film a documentary on 'freedom'

'Arthur Scargill is the man who destroyed the coal industry and betrayed every man and woman in the process. I am happy to debate the future of the left with him and to champion the achievements of the most successful Labour government in history.'
PETER MANDELSON having more problems with his memory as he hears that Arthur Scargill, the miners' leader, is to stand against him in the coming general election

'I have been measured as 5,000 times the permissible level of uranium in my body and have reactive airway disease due to uranium poisoning.'
DOUG ROKKE, former head of the US Pentagon's depleted uranium project

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Article information

Inside the System
Sat 10 Feb 2001, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1734
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