Sunday, October 31, 2010


  "Britain's bosses have been accused of greed and ignoring economic reality after boardroom pay leapt by 55% over the last year. FTSE 100 directors saw their total earnings soar in the 12 months to June, thanks to sharp rises in bonuses and performance-related pay. The average FTSE 100 chief executive now earns £4.9m a year, or almost 200 times the average wage. Unions reacted angrily to the report today. "Don't they know that this is meant to be austerity Britain?" said TUC general secretary Brendan Barber. (Guardian, 28 October) RD


  "Sales of million-pound properties have more than doubled over the past year, fuelled by foreign cash in London. Wealthy buyers picked up nearly 3,000 properties for £1 million or above in Britain during the first six months of this year, an increase 118 per cent on the same period in 2009 compared with a 27 per cent rise generally, according to the Halifax." (Times, 23 October) RD

Saturday, October 30, 2010


 "The shift of income to the top has occurred in the most prosperous English-speaking nations, such as Australia, Britain, and Canada. But it has been most pronounced in the United States. Thirty years ago, the richest 1 percent of Americans got 9 percent of total national income. By 2007, they had 23 percent. Last year, new census data show, the rich-poor income gap was the widest on record. Wealth is more unevenly distributed. The top 20 percent of wealth-holders own 84 percent of America's wealth." (Christian Science Monitor, 18 October) RD


 "Every email, phone call and website visit is to be recorded and stored after the Coalition Government revived controversial Big Brother snooping plans. It will allow security services and the police to spy on the activities of every Briton who uses a phone or the internet. Moves to make every communications provider store details for at least a year will be unveiled later this year sparking fresh fears over a return of the surveillance state." (Daily Telegraph, 20 October) RD

Friday, October 29, 2010


 "The worlds most expensive Barbie doll has fetched almost £200,000 at auction. The custom-made doll, who wears a one carat pink diamond necklace surrounded by three carat white diamonds, was designed by jeweller Stefano Canturi. The custom-designed doll ...sparked a bidding frenzy. The winning offer at the Christies auction in New York was $302,500." (Daily Telegraph, 21 October) RD


 "Crystal Cathedral, the mega church birthplace of the televangelist show "Hour of Power," filed for bankruptcy Monday in Southern California after struggling to emerge from debt that exceeds $43 million. In addition to a $36 million mortgage, the Orange County-based church owes $7.5 million to several hundred vendors for services ranging from advertising to the use of live animals in Easter and Christmas services.The church had been negotiating a repayment plan with vendors, but several filed lawsuits seeking quicker payment, which prompted a coalition formed by creditors to fall apart." (Associated Press, 18 October) RD

Thursday, October 28, 2010


  "As with the international climate negotiations which ended in fiasco last year in Copenhagen, the biodiversity talks in Nagoya could well end in political stalemate -- as the situation in numerous ecosystems around the world gets worse and worse. Already, 20 percent of the planet's 380,000 plant species are in danger of becoming extinct, primarily due to habitat destruction caused by the world's growing population. Of 5,490 species of mammals, 1,130 are threatened and 70 percent of the world's fish population in danger from over-fishing" (Der Spiegel, 18 October) RD

$312,00 FOR A WATCH?

   "Purists prefer Patek Philippe, says Vanessa Herrera, deputy director for Sotheby's Asia watch department. Every time the auction house has a Patek in its lot, it is flagged as an auction highlight. For the Oct. 6 Sotheby's watch auction, a Patek Philippe platinum 5078P sold for 2.42 million Hong Kong dollars (US$312,000). It was "a most sought-after piece," says Ms. Herrera." (Wall Street Journal, 18 October) RD

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


  Defenders of American capitalism are fond of claiming that whatever its faults it is at least democratic. It is however a strange sort of democracy wherein money is the real dictator. Take the election campaign of Meg Whitman for the California Governorship. "With nearly two weeks to go before the election the eBay billionaire's campaign to become chief executive of California has already smashed all records. At $140 million (£89 million) it is the most expensive non-presidential campaign in American history and the deepest any candidate has ever delved to fund their campaign." (Times, 25 October). There is nothing unique in large corporations pouring millions of dollars into election campaigns, but in this case we have an individual spending a grotesque amount that represents about $8.24 for every one of California's 17 million registered voters. Her opponent has spent a "mere" $20 million! This is democracy? RD

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The rich get richer

Wage freeze for many. Benefit cuts for many.

Transport tycoon Brian Souter reveals the value of his investment portfolio has risen by 41% over three years totalling £400million.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


"The number of homes taken over by banks topped 100,000 for the first time in September, though foreclosures are expected to slow in coming months as lenders work through questionable paperwork, Banks foreclosed on 102,134 properties in September, the first single month above the century mark, RealityTrac said. There were 347,420 total foreclosure filings in September, 3 percent higher than August and 1 per cent higher than a year earlier." (Yahoo News, 14 October) RD

Friday, October 22, 2010


"George Osborne's claims that his spending cuts are fair have begun to unravel after the country's leading tax and spend think-tank revealed the poorest will be hit harder than the better off. In its analysis of the chancellor's spending review, the Institute for Fiscal Studies described the public spending cuts as the deepest since the second world war and said benefits would suffer the biggest squeeze since the 1970s." (Guardian. 21 October) RD

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


"Christopher Kane's silk-embroidered cashmere jumpers could look a bit prim. But they're the coolest thing in knitwear right now. Price: £930." (Independent, 4 October) RD


For hundreds of years the Pope ruled supreme in the Vatican and never ventured beyond its sacred environs. In recent times though less and less people are swallowing the medieval nonsense that is the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church and he is forced to become a sort of Thomas Cook tourist. The current holy father looks like beating all records in air miles as he tries to whip up enthusiasm for a growingly unattractive organisation. He recently visited Britain and declared the prospect of sainthood for an English convert. Now concerned about falling attendances in North America he is about to canonise a Canadian doorman. "A Canadian monk who began life as a sickly, illiterate orphan before becoming a porter is to be canonised at the Vatican on Sunday. Alfred Bessette was renowned in the late 19th century as the diminutive doorman of Montreal's College of Notre Dame, whose hands were said to have powers of healing. ... He began his life at the college in 1870 as a porter. "Our superiors put me at the door, and I remained there for 40 years," he said later." (Daily Telegraph, 15 October) As an organisation that claim to have the keys to heaven they could do worse than make a doorman a saint. They have got to get those empty collection bags full somehow. RD


"Three peers should be suspended and repay expenses, A parliament."committee-report-on-conduct/" a House of Lords committee has recommended after investigating their claims. Baroness Uddin should be suspended until Easter 2012 and told to repay £125,349, the committee said. It also recommended Lord Paul be suspended for four months and cross bencher Lord Bhatia for eight months.Baroness Uddin has been suspended from the Labour Party and Lord Paul has resigned his party membership Lord Paul has already paid £41,982 and Lord Bhatia has paid back £27,446." (BBC News, 18 October) RD

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


"A small rural community in western Tennessee is outraged and the fire chief is nursing a black eye after firefighters stood by and watched a mobile home burn to the ground because the homeowner hadn't paid a $75 municipal fee. South Fulton city firefighters -- equipped with trucks, hoses and other firefighting equipment -- didn't intervene to save Gene Cranick's doublewide trailer home when it caught fire last week. But they did arrive on the scene to protect the house of a neighbor, who had paid his fire subscription fee. "I just forgot to pay my $75," said Cranick. "I did it last year, the year before. ... It slipped my mind." Later that day, Cranick's son Timothy went to the fire station to complain, and punched the fire chief in the face." (AOL News, 6 October) RD


"Specialist Aguilar was one of 20 soldiers connected to Fort Hood who are believed to have committed suicide this year. The Army has confirmed 14 of those, and is completing the official investigations of six other soldiers who appear to have taken their own lives - four of them in one week in September. The deaths have made this the worst year at the sprawling fort since the military began keeping track in 2003. The spate of suicides in Texas reflects a chilling reality: nearly 20 months after the Army began strengthening its suicide prevention program and working to remove the stigma attached to seeking psychological counseling, the suicide rate among active service members remains high and shows little sign of improvement. Through August, at least 125 active members of the Army had ended their own lives, exceeding the morbid pace of last year, when there were a record 162 suicides." (New York Times, 10 October) RD

Monday, October 18, 2010


"The billionaire industrialist Mukesh Ambani will soon take up residence at his recently completed Mumbai abode, a £1.2 billion glass tower said to have been inspired by the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Looking over a city where more than half the population lives in slums, it is a soaring monument to the growing chasm dividing India's rich and poor. ...For many, however, the gleaming tower will be an uncomfortable reminder that India's economic renaissance has delivered extraordinary benefits to a handful of hugely wealthy "Bollygarchs" but little to the 800 million Indians who live on not much more than £1 a day." (Times, 14 October) RD


"Hundreds of millions of people in poor countries suffer from untreated mental health disorders that could be helped with inexpensive care, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday. The United Nations agency launched guidelines for primary care doctors and nurses to treat patients debilitated by depression and psychosis as well as neurological ailments including epilepsy, Alzheimer's disease and other dementias." (Yahoo News, 7 October) RD