Banks

Why Would Ralph Lie To Me?

I have it on good authority that Ralph Nader has changed his name to Larry, glued on a false moustache and joined the French Foreign Legion… not out of fear that pissed-off African-American voters will find his skinny carcass and thump him for planting the Evil Shrub in the White House; Ralph just wants to get away from the absurd he-should-have-he-shouldn’t-have shouting match among Americas activists.

Inside Corporate America

An internal Study Reveals The Price ‘Rescued’ Nations Pay: Dearer Essentials, Worse Poverty and Shorter Lives The Observer So call me a liar. I was standing in front of the New York Hilton Hotel when the limousine carrying International Monetary Fund director Horst Kohler zoomed… 

Blair's American Daze

A truly curious letter appeared in the New York Times two years ago headed, ‘It’s time to repay America’, by one Tony Blair. In it, he thanked Bill Clinton and the whole of the US for introducing him to the pleasures of governing the American Way. That, he wrote, meant ‘results, not theology… free from preconceptions and bureaucratic wrangling… Government should not hinder the logic of the market!’

Of Blackbeard and Bill Gates Rip-off Software and CDs, Price-Rigged Pig Feed, Human Rights Abusers – a US Network is now on to them all

For The Observer/Guardian UK
You want to be a billionaire? Answer this one: What do Blackbeard, the Butcher of Croatia and Bill Gates have in common?
While the money clock ticks away, let me tell you about my weekend. I spent it at the Sheraton Hotel in Brussels, watching the guests shuttle between rooms. It looked a little like love, but maybe it meant nothing more to them than a couple nights of fun. There was Steve Ballmer, new CEO of Microsoft, and a thousand of his closest commercial and government friends, meeting under the guise of the ‘European Business Summit’.

Millions May be Eligible for Microsoft Refund Anti-Cartel Lawyers who Joined Forces to Fight Price Fixing Worldwide will File Suit on Behalf of non-US Windows Customers

and Clare Dyer for The Guardian UK
Millions of Britons could be in line for a refund if it is proved that they paid inflated prices for Microsoft’s all-pervasive software, ready installed in most computers on sale.
Next Monday 16 leading US law firms will file the billion pound suit on behalf of hundreds of millions of people who bought Microsoft Windows and programs outside the US.

New British Empire of the Dammed Bolivia's Water Supply is the Latest Acquisition of Thirsty British Firms in the Service of Uncle Sam

for The Observer/Guardian UK
With the front pages jammed with photos of two dead white farmers in Zimbabwe, the news from Bolivia “Protests claim two lives” was pushed into a teeny “World in Brief” in the Guardian, and unmentioned elsewhere. What a shame. The Zimbabwe murders merely exercised a suppressed nostalgia for England’s imperial past. But Bolivia is the story of Britain’s imperial future.

Postcards From The de-Valuation Carnival

For The Observer/Guardian UK
As Fat Tuesday nears, the political chit-chat above the carnival drums is about the minimum wage, which the nation’s Constitution effectively sets at US$100 per month. With currency devaluation and massive inflation of basic necessities (electricity is up 250%), the minimum should rise automatically to at least 170 REALS from 130.
Regarding this relief for the low-paid, President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Latin America’s carrier of the Third Way torch, remains inscrutably befuddled. But his ministers, the chambers of commerce and their academics have filled newspaper columns with arguments for eliminating the Constitution’s ‘inflexibility.’

Utility Bill Plugs the Supply of Leaks

For The Observer/Guardian UK
I SPENT my last night on the Observer ‘s expense account at the Groucho Club killing a £30 bottle of claret. I had convinced the editor I needed a wad of dosh to maintain my cover as a grasping yuppie. But my mark, a young New Labour lobbyist, was in no mood for good vintage. ‘It’s appalling,’ he moaned, head in hands. He was horrified that competitors, former aides of Messrs Blair, Brown and Mandelson, had passed confidential Government information to me and to their clients, US power companies.

Big Macs, Small Horizons America isn't Beautiful – and that's Thanks Largely to an Avaricious Clown who is the Spirit of the New Millennium

For The Observer/Guardian UK
My mother was a hypnotist for McDonald’s. In 1970 one of the chain’s biggest franchisees, moving millions of burgers in Hollywood, feared for their managers, who worked 15-hour shifts scattered over nights and days for little more than £2 an hour.

Inside Corporate America The Few Cyberati Dial Handouts from the Many

For The Observer/Guardian UK
It’s 2022 and my grandchildren ask, ‘Grandpa, when did the communications counter-revolution begin?’ As we huddle round the cyberfire, they guess it all went wrong in October 1999. That was when MCI WorldCom paid $115 billion for Sprint Corporation which, once it had merged with AT&T in 2002, gave the telephony behemoth 80 per cent of America’s long-distance market.

Jack Straw's Plan to Keep it Zipped

For The Observer/Guardian UK
I am convinced the only person in Britain with a true understanding of the consequences of Freedom of Information is Jack Straw. The home secretary’s critics claim his resistance to FoI is rooted in some pathological distrust of open democracy. That’s quite unfair. His concerns are rational indeed. This government has some very specific information – records of meetings,phone calls, deals – it would hope to keep very un-free.

UK Fat Cats? Mere Kittens

For The Observer/Guardian UK
It’s that time of year again, when executive pay league tables hit the headlines and set off a chorus of union leaders, professors of ethics and the plain jealous who yowl about fat cat pay.
The Monks Partnership issues the most-watched listing and has given The Observer a sneak preview. This year, the finger-waggers won’t be disappointed. The bosses’ pay is up by an average 9 per cent over last year’s 546,000, excluding share options. Take away inflation and that’s three-and-a-half times the percentage pay hike for the average British employee.

Bank Appoints Controversial TV Evangelist

The Bank of Scotland has appointed the controversial American TV evangelist Dr Pat Robertson as chairman of its US retail banking holding company. The fundamentalist minister is known in America as founder and president of the 1.2-million member far-right Christian Coalition and for his statements attacking feminists, homosexuals, Democrats and Hindus.