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Bowing to the mighty Dollar

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Issue 1702

Inside the system

Bowing to the mighty Dollar

THE WORLD Bank has faced plenty of opposition from people outside its ranks in recent years. But now revolt is growing inside as well. One of the bank’s most senior figures has resigned because of the institution’s obsession with market capitalism.

Ravi Kanbur, author of the bank’s annual World Development Report, left over a dispute about the appropriate role of markets in developing countries. Bank staff said Ravi Kanbur’s emphasis on income redistribution brought him into conflict with other economists. They argued that “liberalisation” was the way to combat poverty.

The aptly named David Dollar, an economist in the research department, produced a paper entitled “Growth is Good” earlier this year. It was seen as a direct challenge to Ravi Kanbur. Dollar’s line was supported by other important players such as the US Treasury and the Britain’s Department for International Development, headed by Clare Short.

The latest resignation comes soon after the departure of former World Bank chief economist Joseph Stiglitz. He wrote recently, “In theory the IMF supports democratic institutions. In practice it undermines the democratic process.”

A senior policeman in charge of a pub watch scheme was nearly three times over the limit when he crashed into parked cars, a court heard last week. Inspector Philip Toulson was arrested by his own force just five days before an annual crackdown on festive drink-driving. He headed a scheme in South Shields which linked landlords to police by radio to deal with troublemakers.

Heil to Akela

A FRENCH scout movement is in turmoil after it gave details of its membership to Nazi organisations. An inquiry into the Scouts of Europe group found that the names of more than 900 scouts had been passed on to Le Pen’s National Front and other Nazi organisations for inclusion on their mailing lists. Scouts received Le Pen literature and other material praising the armed forces of Hitler’s Third Reich. The inquiry also found that the Scouts of Europe had organised camps in rural France which were run on “paramilitary lines”.

Starved for oil

BILLIONS OF pounds are flowing into the devastated African country Angola. The money is to grab oil concessions, not to help ordinary people. Bidding for rights to explore new areas of Angola for drilling began last week, with Shell, BP-Amoco, Exxon and Chevron all trying to grab their share.

The oil giants will pay out around 200 million this week and are expected to invest around 2.3 billion a year in Angola for the next ten years. But none of this money improves the lives of the majority.

Honour among thieves

RAILTRACK’S chief executive, Gerald Corbett, posed as a caring boss last week when he turned down a 100,000 bonus. He said that it would be “insensitive” to take the money after the Paddington crash.

But he did accept a 12 percent pay rise which boosted his money by 41,000 to 377,000. Other directors did not bother to hide their greed. They grabbed their big bonuses.

Finance director Steve Marshall pocketed 37,000 even though he was only with the firm for four months, safety director Rod Muttram received 25,000, commercial director Richard Middleton took 34,000, and major projects boss Simon Murray enjoys 37,000.

The reheated war

THE UNITED States government is expanding the number of sites it is prepared to destroy with nuclear weapons, despite the end of the Cold War and several rounds of arms reduction treaties.

The Pentagon says the US must be ready to obliterate 20 percent more places than five years ago. The vast bulk of the targets are still in Russia. Only half of these are places where Russian nuclear arms are kept.

The other 1,000 are factories or military bases, usually surrounded by huge population centres. Next in line comes China, which was restored to the “kill list” in 1997 after 20 years of “dtente”. There are hundreds of other targets in Iraq, North Korea and Iran.

THE new GCHQ spy centre will cost over 400 million-and will be built under the Private Finance Initiative. Investors have grabbed the bonds-partly because they will pay about 2 percent a year more than normal government securities. Deutsche Bank will underwrite the operation and the building will be as large as Wembley Stadium.

Just high spirits, says Eric Pickles

PUPILS AT a 2,000 a term private school in Brentwood, Essex, went on the rampage recently to celebrate the end of exams. The school was once attended by Jack Straw, now the home secretary. According to the Brentwood Weekly News, “Rampaging pupils decided to toast the eve of their A level exams by defecating on the steps of the sixth form centre, blitzing new common rooms and tearing up plants before dragging them down onto the school lawns.”

Local Tory MP Eric Pickles, who made his name as the Thatcherite head of Bradford council and is now Tory shadow social security minister, said that the school’s reputation would not be damaged by the behaviour.

Things they say

“IT’S A super thing for people who come and live here. They can have a mass of money offshore, say in Jersey or the Isle of Man, and there is no need to pay tax. It works out very nicely.”

  • MARK LEVITT, top London tax specialist

“IT’S A bit like football teams. Scottish Power is in the Premier League and its directors are the Beckhams.”

  • RUTH LEA, head of the bosses’ Institute of Directors, justifying Scottish Power bosses’ 47 percent pay rise

“IF I or my child go to the hospital we’d like to be looked after by someone who hasn’t been on duty non-stop for 48 hours.”

  • WOMAN at a focus group gives her verdict on New Labour

“THE IDEA that we can help people by simply raising their benefits isn’t right.”

  • Social security secretary ALISTAIR DARLING

“WELFARE payments paralyse self reliance and enterprise. They turn lone parents into rights-demanding harridans. No, we need not less inequality, but more.”

  • DAVID MARSLAND writing in the Daily Mail

“WHAT DO you want us to say? That we’re in love?”

  • Russian prime minister VLADIMIR PUTIN’s response as to why he and Germany’s

Third Way chancellor, Gerhard Schrder, held four meetings in three days

“THEY ARE two cookies, and they took to each other.”

  • foreign ministry official on Putin and Schrder

“IT IS a dead language.”

  • European commissioner ANNA DIAMANTOPOULOU admitting that her department’s report on poverty and social exclusion is incomprehensible

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