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!’

Welcome To My Hall Of Infamy

At absolutely no one’s request, we hereby announce the winners of Inside corporate America’s first annual Golden Vulture Awards:
The Call-My-Lawyer Award to… Sony Corporation.
Only last month, Sony and other media giants won a court injunction in the US against Napster, the website that lets you record music CDs off the internet.

States Deregulate Energy at Their Peril – from The New York Times

While reporters ogled celebrities at Barbra Streisand’s bungalow during the Democratic Convention in Los Angeles, there was a real display of populism 100 miles to the south in San Diego. There politicians have enrolled two million citizens in a scary economic experiment. This year, San Diego became the first city in California to experience the end of state regulation of electricity prices.

Africans Find U.S. put Catch-22 in Deal for Cheap AIDS Drugs

For The Observer/Guardian UK
It would give me great pleasure to report, as did the New York Times earlier this month, that Bill Clinton has saved Africa. That big-hearted lug will lend African nations a billion dollars a year for AIDS drugs which — more joy! — the pharmaceutical companies have agreed to just give away at 75 percent off list price.

Bolivia Vanishes: See Style Section

From The MediaChannel
In April, five people were shot dead in Bolivia, a military policeman was lynched and the president declared a state of siege following a general strike that shut down much of the nation. At the end of it all, for the first time in a decade anywhere in the world, American and British corporate giants, the targets of the protest, were booted out of the Andean nation, a stunning reversal of the march of globalization.

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.

Currency Rules – But it's not OK The Euro: Made in America by the Father of Reaganomics as a Tool to Smash the Power of Governments

For The Observer/Guardian UK
Give me two good reasons why I should listen to some American tell me about the euro.
All right. Number One: We don’t care. There’s no emotional baggage here. Frankly, I couldn’t care less whether the Queen’s nose remains on your coinage or not.
Number Two: Americans invented the euro. And it’s time you learnt why.

Tony Rushes in Where Bill Fears to Tread

For The Guardian UK
For all those conspiracy cranks and paranoid anti-globalisers who imagine that the planet’s corporate elite and government functionaries actually meet to conspire about their blueprint for rewriting the laws of sovereign nations, be advised that the next meeting of the New World Order is being held this week at the Swiss Hotel in Brussels. It is the mid-year meeting of the Transatlantic Business Dialogue.

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.

Profit and Education Don't Mix Britain should learn a lesson from the US

For The Observer/Guardian UK
The daring escape of three very expensive headmasters from the schools to which they were confined, prompted a flummoxed Education Secretary David Blunkett to do what he does best at times of crisis: issue a press release announcing a new programme to expand the privatisation of state schools. This desperate wheeze was for so-called city academies, which will operate outside the control of local education authorities and free of the Government’s own curriculum and employment controls.

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.

In the Land of the Free, the Legal Eagle is King

For The Observer/Guardian UK
There are 200 million guns in civilian hands in the United States. That works out at 200 per lawyer. Wade through the foaming websites of the anti-semites, weekend militiamen and Republicans, and it becomes clear that many among America’s well-armed citizenry have performed the same calculation. Because if there is any hope of the ceasefire that they fear, it will come out of the barrel of a law suit.
First, the score. Gunshot deaths in the US are way down – to only 88 a day. Around 87,000 lucky Americans were treated for bullet wounds last year; 32,436 unlucky ones died, including a dozen policemen by their own weapons. In one typical case, a young man, Steven Fox, described feeling pieces of his brain fly from his skull after a mugger shot him. He is permanently paralysed.
But, hey, that’s business for you. And what a business it is. Guns, ammo and accessories are a $6bn-a-year honey pot for several corporations: Browning, Smith & Wesson, Colt and others.
Britain loves stories of gun lust in the US. It is an opportunity for snooty comparisons with America’s crude and lawless society. This drives Elisa Barnes crazy.
Barnes is the lawyer who recently brought a groundbreaking law suit against handgun manufacturers, which were found negligent in the shooting of Fox. “You [European] guys are so smug. Glock, Browning, Beretta have these refined European owners. Smith & Wesson is the number one seller of killer guns – and it’s owned by Tomkins plc, of England.”