Who stands to win in the intense competition to turn a filthy profit from the World Cup?
Officials from governing body Fifa led the pack at first, after allegedly taking bribes to see who will host the next two tournaments.
A quarter of its executive committee has now been accused of taking dodgy donations in return for supporting the right bid. Some may have got more than £1 million.
Brazilian construction bosses and politicians are making the most of their home advantage.
The consortium building Brasilia’s stadium has tripled its cash with fraudulent billing, according to the country’s audit court. It charged £900,000 for transporting pre-fabricated grandstands—something that was supposed to cost just £2,800.
Politicians leapt to the bosses’ defence.
It’s surely a coincidence that bosses had also increased political donations 500 fold in the last election.
But the early favourites are the corporations that try to use the World Cup to boost their sales. Fifa has taken more than £1 billion in sponsorship deals.
Some of the more tasteful publicity stunts include bookies Paddy Power pretending to burn down the rainforest.
Then there’s all the free publicity—such as shadow chancellor Ed Balls saying that you’re not a “proper World Cup fan” without splashing out on bits of paper from printing giant Panini.
But no tournament is complete without its giant killers. The biggest sponsors are worried they might get more than they bargained for.
Sony, Adidas and others have been virtually begging Fifa to make all the noise about corruption go away.
And Coca-Cola has a contingency plan to scale down its visibility around the cup if it continues to attract protests, strikes and riots.
It already had to halt an event with the trophy last month after a lands rights activist shot a police officer in the leg with an arrow.
And at one point the giant Coke bottle it had lovingly put in front of the Maracana Stadium had to be covered with black plastic sheets to avoid attracting attention.
A better way to deal with homelessness?
The government may have been slow to deal with growing homelessness.
But innovative landlords are using the methods of pest control to take on the problem of poverty, rocketing rents and cash strapped services.
Metal spikes like those used to keep pigeons off walls were spotted in an alcove of a posh London apartment building last week.
Not to be left behind, Labour’s office in One Brewer’s Green has concrete stumps where one homeless man used to sleep.
Perhaps this could be a growth market for mouse trap makers and poison sellers too. At least until someone manages to breed giant cats and ferrets to root out rough sleepers.
No doubt this strategy of making our cities ever harsher and nastier places is meant to help people out of homelessness.
But if for some reason it doesn’t, we can’t help but notice that the vast luxury flats at One Hyde Park are still empty.
Bank and baroness tighten their belts
We’re all having to watch our spending in these tough times—even bailed out bankers.
Royal Bank of Scotland has sold the chauffeur driven Mercedes it used to drive bosses around Hong Kong.
But bankers still won’t have to dip into their taxpayer-funded bonuses to get around.
The RBS licence plates have been moved to a more low key Nissan.
That’s nothing on the sacrifices being made by former Tory whip Baroness Rawlings, however.
The austerity aristocrat shared some of her thrifty tips last week.
These include holding on to the crusts on your Melba toasts, and saving on marquee hire costs for your garden parties by “just buying 200 Panama hats”.
If you have a 14-bedroom mansion to heat, open fires are “vital”. And if you’re looking for a bargain, the baroness is flogging a pair of luxury Louboutin shoes on eBay.
Last orders already for new mayor?
Tory councillor Wayne Ronayne celebrated being named mayor of Gosport by getting banned from all the town’s pubs.
Ronayne and pals refused to leave The Star until cops came to turf them out, and were then refused entry at Nelsons down the road.
Pub worker Stephen Brown said the mayoress told him, “Do you know who I am? I’m the mayoress of Gosport I can have you closed down.”
Ronayne has no such power—and only retained his seat by 16 votes.
Tories' Lego against independence falls down
How far would you have to go to make Lego bosses worry about patronising Scottish people? Lego is the firm behind this charming Highlander toy.
But even it couldn’t stand appearing in the government’s list of reasons to stay in Britain. They included eating pies and gorging on hot dogs.
The list was illustrated with Lego figures until officials were forced to remove them.
Twee torturers on Twitter
If you like bloodsucking corporations acting cute on Twitter, you’ll love murderous state agency bodies doing the same.
The CIA made its first jokey tweet last week, and the US Department of Defense joined in the LOLs.
Perhaps they couldn’t get names of dissidents, dodgy dossiers on Iraq, counter insurgency manuals and confessions obtained through torture down to 140 characters.
Top Tesco boss gets real
Tory MP Jesse Norman, a former policy advisor to George Osborne, says he wants to return to “real capitalism”.
Seems like he’s off to a good start. Tesco clothing division boss John Hoerner threw him a fundraising bash that raised £21,500 for the Tories.
Every little helps, it would seem.
Going up: child poverty
One in five children in Britain will live in absolute poverty by 2020, warns the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission.
It would make this the first decade since records began in 1961 in which absolute child poverty went up.
Some £12 billion further cuts to welfare for children and working age adults are expected by 2019. That’s 13 percent of current welfare spending.
The things they say
‘I do not want my son to wither, waiting like Prince Charles’
King Juan Carlos of Spain explains why he abdicated
‘Certainly not, Theresa May is doing a fantastic job. There’s a lot going on. No, absolutely not. She’s doing a very fine job.’
Michael Gove protests too much about Tory infighting
‘A modest dwelling in deepest Wiltshire next-door to the herdsman and his family’
Lord Mandelson on the four bedroom country house he is renting from billionaire pals the Rothschilds
‘We didn’t go into govt because it was the right thing to do, we went into govt because it was the right thing to do’
The Lib Dems’ official Twitter account. In case of confusion, it added, “Just to clarify: We don’t construct sentences because we can, we construct sentences, because we can.”