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Voice From the Back

Class War

War may be hell, but so is work. Managers now double their chances of a heart attack a week after they fire an employee. For the first time, according to a report in the journal Circulation, significant events at work have been tied to heart attacks "In order to negotiate with employees, we treat them as opponents," says Dr Joseph Loizzo of New York's Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center. "It's the kind of thing that happens in warfare, in combat . . ." "These things take a toll," says Loizzo, who recommends such de-stressing techniques as yoga, meditation and prayer. An even easier solution: Hire your own hatchet man. Financial Mail on Sunday, 19 April.

Creating superhumans

"My fear with genetic engineering very simply is one of the things I try to bring out in my book [Remaking Eden, Weidenfeld, £20]: that it won't be available to everybody. It will cause greater social injustice. That’s my real fear," he [Lee Silver] says. "I don’t think it is going to be used terribly: I think it is going to be used to prevent disease. The problem is—in the US—that it is going to be controlled by the market-place. And I am very cynical about the market-place. That’s my fear about genetic engineering. It is so powerful, it is so good, it will only be available to those who have money." Guardian online, 16 April.

Big Brother

The existence of Echelon was officially acknowledged for the first time two months ago in a report, Assessing the Technologies of Political Control, commissioned by the European parliament's Civil Liberties Commission. It stated "Within Europe, all e-mail, telephone and fax communications are routinely intercepted by the US National Security Agency, transferring all target information from the European mainland via the strategic hub of London, then by satellite to Fort Meade in Maryland via the crucial hub at Menwith Hill, Yorkshire. Financial Mail on Sunday, 1 March.

Alarm

Clergy are to be offered a new device for their protection—a crucifix with an integral alarm. Avon Silversmiths plans to launch the product, which costs £169, at the annual National Christian Resources Exhibition next month. One tug is said to be enough to activate the device. Times, 13 April.

Unite for work

A salesman's damages award has been doubled to £320,000 because a road accident made him a "better person" and he lost the aggression necessary for his job. Charles Cornell suffered serious brain injuries in the accident on the M11 in Essex in 1991 which left him with a "a more pleasant personality", Lord Justice Stuart Smith said in the Court of Appeal. Although friends and relatives thought the change was for the better, his less aggressive manner robbed him of his thrusting nature and he was now unemployable in a reputable sales force. Evening Mail, 21 March.

Global capital diplomacy

The Multilateral Agreement on Investment, which will ease rules for global capital flow, has been in negotiations since late 1995. Its advocates argue it will promote investment flows that help promote economic growth and technology transfers, and so enable poor countries to catch up with rich ones. To its enemies, it is a charter for multinational companies to observe minimum environmental or labour standards, while giving them the right to sue governments who harm their interests. Guardian online, 16 April.

God embraces Mammon

Canon Raymond Rodger, personal assistant to the Right Rev Robert Hardy, Bishop of Lincoln, and who has helped to set up the first masters degree in church management at Lincoln, said the notion of the Cross becoming a brand image was useful. "It is our job to extract the best that successful corporations have to offer and use it in our context," he said. "We have to think in terms of exceeding customer delight. What we have to offer is the glory of God, and we have got to give the very best service to our customers in terms of added value and value for money that we can. Our product is quite simply allowing people to come closer to God." Times, 13 April.

Our society of hatred

When the Nazis invaded in 1941, the Jewish population of Lithuania—the home of their community for 600 years—numbered about 250,000. Four years alter, 200,000 had been murdered in cold blood by Nazi Einsatzkommandos, assisted by numerous and, by some accounts, enthusiastic Lithuanian auxiliaries. Almost all were foully killed within 10 weeks of the Nazi blitzkrieg. The remnant who survived were kept alive as "work jews", escaped, or were hidden by all too few "righteous gentiles". The Lithuanian and Latvian Jewish Communities, we learn, "had more of their people killed in the Holocaust, proportionally, than any others in Europe." Guardian, 16 April (Review of Heshel's Kingdom by Dan Jacobson).

Don’t tell them!

Powerful American business interests want to stop British supermarkets telling consumers which products contain genetically engineered ingredients . . . US commodity firms are threatening to complain to the World Trade Organisation in Geneva, claiming that labelling by European companies is an obstacle to free trade. Financial Mail on Sunday, 19 April.