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New conquests for Imperial boss

This article is over 21 years, 8 months old
RICHARD SYKES is the chairman of the giant pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline. The firm makes £10,000 every minute - the same time it takes 21 people in the Third World to die of preventable diseases. It was also one of the firms which tried to prevent South Africa from developing its own cheaper drugs for AIDS and HIV.
Issue 1824

RICHARD SYKES is the chairman of the giant pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline. The firm makes £10,000 every minute – the same time it takes 21 people in the Third World to die of preventable diseases. It was also one of the firms which tried to prevent South Africa from developing its own cheaper drugs for AIDS and HIV.

GlaxoSmithKline was the result of a merger of two giant companies. But you may not know about Sykes’s other job. He is also the £242,000 a year head of Imperial College in London. Richard Sykes seems to have a mania for mergers. He is the main man behind the proposal for the merger of Imperial College and University College London to create a super-elite educational institution.

He was also the man who came up with the plan to impose top-up fees on students of £10,500 a year for some courses, with extra charges of over £4,000 a year. This will mean anyone from a working class background won’t be able to even think of applying to go there.

What on earth is the chairman of one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world doing in charge of a college which has a reputation for scientific research? So much for colleges being independent places of genuine learning.

Lyons’ new trick

ROGER LYONS, the general secretary of the MSF section of the Amicus union, has pulled another fast one. Lyons had promised in writing that he would retire early. This was when it looked as if Sir Ken Jackson, Blair’s favourite trade unionist, was going to beat Derek Simpson in the election to head the AEEU section of Amicus.

But a recent Amicus-MSF national executive meeting changed his contract to keep Lyons in place until 2007. This will mean he will go ten years without election, twice as long as the rule book states.

FANCY A visit to the one of the top recommended ‘green’ tourist sites? There’s one place you might go which recently got a silver ‘green tourism’ award from the government’s VisitScotland tourist organisation. It’s a place the government claims ‘reflects good environmental practices’.

Where is it?

It is the visitor centre of the Dounreay nuclear plant in Scotland! This has been an environmental disaster since the 1950s. Radioactive particles from the site still contaminate a nearby public beach.

Bosses sink low

ANNIE CATON survived the sinking of the Titanic in which some 1,500 people died in 1912. She was a Turkish bath attendant on the ‘unsinkable’ luxury liner. After scrambling onto a lifeboat she made her way to the White Star Line shipping offices which owned the Titanic.

Bosses ruthlessly worked out how much money she was owed by the company. Her entitlement to pay ended at the moment the ship went down, and her employment was terminated at the precise moment the liner sank. Her certificate of discharge even recorded the longitude and latitude at which the company’s contractual obligations ended. And you thought the bosses were harsh today!

NEW Labour ministers have strongly attacked firefighters for endangering people’s safety. The government’s concern for safety doesn’t seem to stretch to the people who work in its own buildings.

The ultra-posh government building Portcullis House, which has been open for two years, still hasn’t received a fire certificate. The building’s fire alarm was activated last week during a test. All of the fire doors were closed. The evacuation signal didn’t work because of a fault, so no one left the building.

There is also a lack of provision for disabled people. It has also had floods, cracked walls, mouldy ponds and faulty heating.

Life of a murderer

Richard Helms, the former CIA director who died last week, organised a series of murders. He was involved in the murder of the radical Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba in 1961.

US president John F Kennedy put Helms under pressure to organise the overthrow of Cuba’s Fidel Castro. Helms used the Mafia in attempts to assassinate Castro. He then engineered a coup which overthrew and murdered President Ngo Dinh Diem in Vietnam. Helms also organised South Vietnamese terror groups that brutalised the Vietnamese population during the Vietnam War.

He was responsible for the CIA’s murderous role in Chile. Helms ordered the kidnapping of a senior Chilean general who was later killed. The CIA helped engineer the coup in 1973 that overthrew Chile’s elected leader Salvador Allende.

The US Congress convicted Helms in 1977 of lying about the CIA’s illegal undercover activities in Chile and plotting against the Allende government. He received the maximum fine and was given a suspended two-year prison sentence.

Enter stage left

RESISTANCE to the ‘war on terror’ is popping up in the most unlikely places. Some of the US’s top actors have hit the headlines for their performances in socialist playwright Bertolt Brecht’s The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui. It is about the rise of Hitler.

Al Pacino, John Goodman, Chazz Palminteri and Steve Buscemi all star in the play being performed in New York, near to Ground Zero. They’ve made some adaptations to the play. During a trial scene the US constitution is projected onto the wall behind the stage.

When ‘Deutschland Ÿber Alles’ is played, instead of giving a Nazi salute, the cast put their hands on their hearts – something that people do when the US national anthem is played. ‘Today New York, tomorrow the world,’ says Arturo Ui. We’re sure Brecht would have approved.

Do you have a story for inside the System? Send it to Inside the System, Socialist Worker, PO Box 82, London E3 3Lh. All readers who send in a story that is printed are put into a monthly raffle for a book. Last month’s winner was Eamonn Kelly from Bristol

A new book about the electricity generating industry has just been released. Its title is Small is Profitable. It is a very large book and costs £80!

Things they say

‘AN impressive achievement.’
Tony Blair congratulates Russian president Putin on the recent hostage massacre

‘AN excellent operation which led to the saving of hundreds of lives.’
Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon adds to the praise for Putin

‘UEFA TALK tough and act weak on racism. We’ve got to put our own house in order.’
David Mellor two weeks ago in the Evening Standard, Friday 18 October, deplores the racism that black England footballers faced

‘THEY WILL bleed us dry in subsidies and legitimise a lot of the riff-raff coming here in the back of lorries.’
David Mellor in the Sunday People, 20 October, repeats racist lies about the EU and asylum seekers

‘WE ARE being swamped by parasites. Call me a racist, but I’d send them all back to where they came from.’
Bigoted racist and astronomer Patrick Moore on refugees

‘WE DO not believe in capitalism. Capitalism is something that threatens inequality across the whole of society.’
Environment secretary Michael Meacher

‘WE borrowed six from the Royal Air Force and would like to give six back.’
Army spokesperson David Webb appeals for the return of the inflatable imitation tank that blew away during army exercises

‘THE biggest challenge of the new decade is to encourage people to work for longer.’
Andrew Smith, secretary of state for work and pensions explains his job

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