Inside the system
Ethics behind crowd control
THE NEXT big meeting of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) is to be held in the repressive Middle East state of Qatar. This is to avoid the giant mobilisations against the multinationals and financial institutions seen in Seattle, Prague and Naples, and that we are going to see in Genoa in July. New Labour is a key supporter of the new round of trade talks that will allow the multinationals to continue to ride roughshod over the poorest people in the world.
But the British government has provided other aid to Qatar to help ensure that the WTO conference runs smoothly. Over the past two years New Labour has licensed the sale of anti-riot guns, assault rifles, crowd control ammunition, CS gas grenades and shotguns to Qatar. No doubt the regime will use these weapons in an "ethical" manner against anyone who protests at the WTO.
In the stars?
NEW EVIDENCE of how money can influence university research emerged last week. Southampton University announced that it was founding a research group into astrology. This coincidentally came after it received funding from an astrology-promoting body called the Sophia Trust.
One project will look into the "apparent relationship" between the position of Jupiter at the time of birth, and future alcoholism and drug dependency. Another group will research "whether the success rates of IVF and other fertility treatments could be improved by coinciding treatment sessions with movements in the star charts of couples hoping to conceive".
Price is right
MORE NEWS on ethical arms sales. The Ukranian police recently used teargas and truncheons against people demonstrating against President Leonid Kuchma. Britain has exported projectile launchers, small arms, small arms ammunition and telescopic sights to Ukraine. The army in Ecuador used teargas and live bullets on a popular uprising against the International Monetary Fund in February. Eight people died.
Britain has exported semi-automatic pistols, projectile launcher parts, sniper rifles and half a million pounds worth of high-tech kit to Ecuador. Huge protests brought down the corrupt Peruvian president, Alberto Fujimori, last year despite the best efforts of the British government which allowed assault rifles, submachine guns, sniper rifles, telescopic sights and night vision goggles to be exported to Peru.
THE current crisis in the economy is causing some capitalists to try anything to get stock market prices back up. One ruined investor in Italy has stolen the corpse of Ennio Cuccia, the former chairman of the giant Mediobanco firm.
He says he will only return the body when the Italian stock market recovers to last year's level. He listed living financiers and journalists as new targets.
RIGHT WING papers like the Sun and the Daily Mail have attacked Labour MP Keith Vaz for his links with solicitor Sarosh Zaiwalla, but the Tories have been strangely quiet about the case. Zaiwalla has socialised with the rich and powerful, including top Tories, for the last 15 years.
Zaiwalla set up the Asian Business Breakfast Club in 1998 with Tory MP Tony Baldry. This gave Zaiwalla access to Westminster and Baldry received �30,000 a year in barrister's fees from Zaiwalla and Co.
THE NEWSPAPERS have been full of articles about how the outbreak of foot and mouth is affecting the tourist trade and the small businesses that survive on it. The Daily Telegraph ran an article in March by Cornish bed and breakfast owner Gill Charlton and Lake District hotelier Charles Garside explaining how the tourist industry had been affected by the crisis.
The Telegraph failed to explain that these were no ordinary business people. Charlton is a former travel editor at the newspaper, and Garside used to edit the European before getting a huge payoff from his former employers.
Come on all you voters
DISGRACED ex cabinet minister Peter Mandelson is seeking consolation in the exploits of his local football team, Hartlepool.
Mandelson is the MP for the area. After hardly attending a match in four years, he has appeared at the last two games with his election agent in tow. The Tory candidate in the forthcoming general election, Gus Robinson, has also started to attend games.
Some cynical souls have suggested that Mandelson hopes to gain favour (and votes) from local people as he faces a electoral challenge from Arthur Scargill, leader of the National Union of Mineworkers.
Bullying bosses are not saying pants to poverty and are attempting to discipline a worker in Oxfordshire for daring to collect money for Comic Relief. The worker collected �1 from fellow workers in return for showing them his pay slip.
This is usually a closely guarded secret as people at the company are paid at different rates and the bosses don't want workers to know that. His boss ordered him to stop the collection and he faces a disciplinary hearing. His GMB union is demanding that the firm Super Conductivity Instruments in Oxford stops victimising him.
Things they say
"FACE the truth, Tony. You're the first Labour leader to go into a general election without a single Tory celebrity threatening to leave the country if you win."
- Mirror columnist BRIAN READE
"WHO nowadays believes in the unerring accuracy, the irresistable force, of NATO weaponry-apart, that is, from the long lasting destructive power of depleted uranium?"
- JOHN SIMPSON, BBC correspondent in Serbia during the Kosovo war
"IT WAS indeed stupid and wrong for NATO pilots to bomb the Serbs from 15,000 feet, especially as they missed so many of their targets."
- JOHN SIMPSON
"GRIMSBY IS the most profitable town in Britain."
- Report by DUN & BRADSHEET STATISTICIANS
"UNEMPLOYMENT is twice the national average. Weekly earnings are the lowest in the area. It is among the most socially deprived regions. If you tell low paid people here that companies in Grimsby are making a profit it's a bit of an insult, isn't it?"
- IVAN HINCHCLIFFE, economic and community development officer for North East Lincolnshire council
"HE IS accustomed to large projects and has skills in heavy capital expenditure, where you are almost betting the company and cannot afford to get it wrong. He is quietly spoken but charismatic."
- CITY SOURCE on news that Sir John Parker was to become the new chairman of Railtrack
"HIS late withdrawal due to personal circumstances is obviously disappointing."
- Current chairman of Railtrack SIR PHILIP BECK after news that Parker had to pull out