ANOTHER EXAMPLE emerged last week of how the US has been using threats and bribes to get United Nations backing for war on Iraq. George Bush recently met with Mexico's president, Vicente Fox, to try to firm up his support for an attack.
But Mexico's government is angry that Bush failed to reach an agreement to legalise the status of more than three million Mexican migrant workers in the US.
So Fox, whose election two years ago was welcomed by the US, said he would side with the French opposition to the US resolution for war at the United Nations. Bush's supporters were furious. The Wall Street Journal, a conservative daily newspaper, said last week, 'Mr Fox is wrong if he thinks sticking a finger in America's eye will make an agreement over migrants more likely.'
It warned that blocking the US resolution 'on a matter of vital national interests is something the US won't forget'. And it referred to Mexico as 'the friends of Saddam in the south'. The dispute has highlighted how the US will bully any country that stands in its way.
Jose Manuel Suarez Mier, a former diplomat, lamented that it was a mistake for Mexico to have ever joined the UN's Security Council:
'It's an absolute folly to be on the Security Council, and that's why we avoided it for so many years. It's a no-win situation. Either you go against the Americans, in which case you harm your bilateral agenda, or you become their convenient little carpet.'
THE 'intelligence services' are making a 'significant number of errors' according to Sir Swinton Thomas, the grandly titled Interception of Communications Commissioner. In one case permission was granted to bug the mobile phone of a 'known criminal'.
A mobile phone number was duly put under surveillance. 'It became clear from the first call intercepted that the telephone number was not in the possession of the target,' said Thomas's report. The number in fact belonged to one of the investigating officers.
Milburn gets a needling
HATS OFF to Stacey Atkinson, winner of the nurse of the year award. She knew health secretary Alan Milburn was on his way to attend the ceremony, so she got in first.
She described how she was forced to turn away children with severe learning disabilities from her care because of government underfunding. 'It's very difficult to turn them away, but we just haven't got the staff,' she said. 'If there was one thing I would say to Alan Milburn it is that we need more resources to really do justice to our patients.'
Murphy's law of value
THERE IS good news for Gerry Murphy, the boss of TV group Carlton. He is not being penalised for his company's disaster over ITV Digital. The pay-TV venture collapsed spectacularly earlier this year, leaving many viewers without the programmes they paid for, and football clubs reeling with heavy debts.
Carlton, along with Granada, had set up ITV Digital. Carlton's shares have collapsed by 85 percent from their peak two years ago when Gerry Murphy got the job.
Murphy refused to take any responsibility for the mess. He is now being rewarded with a job at the Kingfisher group. Murphy will get around £800,000 in basic salary and share options on top.
You can be sure in black and white
OIL COMPANY Shell's recent report says, 'Human rights are taken into account when considering entering or re-entering countries. 'Where UN sanctions are in force the situation is clear and we abide by them.' Sounds pretty clear, doesn't it?
Except when it goes on to try to excuse why it broke an internationally-backed boycott against apartheid South Africa. In cases where there are 'differences in international opinion', Shell claims, 'We have to decide whether our activities can be a 'force for good'.' Shell decided to ignore the regime's horrors because it was 'bringing investment, high standards and encouraging a more open society'.
DID YOU realise you were funding the election campaign of George Bush's party in the US? New Labour bailed out British Nuclear Fuels Limited (BNFL), the state-owned company which runs Britain's oldest nuclear reactors, with £500 million of taxpayers' money last month.
But BNFL has been handing tens of thousands to the Republicans to push its nuclear agenda in the US. Some £200,000 was made in political donations was made, with a further £630,000 to lobbying firms. Those sweeteners bought BNFL meetings with the George Bush's administration.
Things they say
'MY suggestion to shoot a few leaders was not a suggestion to kill them.'
General Sir Robert Ford, former military commander in Northern Ireland, explains his role in the 1972 Bloody Sunday killing of 13 unarmed civilians
'WE HAVE let it be known that the thing we would like to make sure, if Iraq changes regime, is that there should be a level playing field for the selection of oil companies to go in there.'
John Browne, head of the BP oil company, worried about US companies carving BP out of the oil grab in Iraq
'I AM not a Nazi. I am a Nazi sympathiser. Hitler will live forever.'
Mark Collet, leader of the 'non-Nazi' British National Party's youth wing, during a Channel 4 documentary
'IT IS hardly surprising that the Channel 4 crew were able to find a couple of slightly rough edges.'
BNP response to the programme
'YOU HAVE been very rude and I have never been spoken to like this before.'
French president Jacques Chirac to Tony Blair during an argument about Europe
'I HAD a terrible day two years ago when the Duke of Marlborough's grapes beat mine at the fruit show and I got back to my club to read that the Duke of Beaufort was now the best dressed duke.'
Duke of Devonshire
'GEORGE BUSH is a man of below average intelligence, and is a glove puppet of vice-president Dick Cheney and defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld.'
BBC correspondent John Simpson