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Voice From the Back

SPORT IN A SICK SOCIETY

"To amuse or recreate oneself, by active exercise in the open air; to take part in some game or play; to frolic or gambol." The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary. That is an adequate description of sport before the advent of capitalism, it is wholly inappropriate today. Jose Canseco the former batsman of the Oakland Athletics tells all in his expose of modern baseball, Juiced. "Why did I take steroids? The answer is simple. Because myself and others had no choice if we wanted to continue playing. Because Major League Baseball did nothing to take it out of sport," he wrote. "Before they were sworn in, the committee heard emotional testimonies from parents of promising young baseball stars who had killed themselves while taking steroids. Health officials say that suicidal tendencies are one of the side-effects of steroid use" The Times (18 March). Just another example of capitalism destroying everything it touches, even baseball.

BLESSED ARE THE POOR

"A bishop in eastern Spain has cut his parish priests' stipend by 30 per cent after his dioceses lost up to €10 million (£6.8 million) on the stock market. He advised them to find the difference by putting collection boxes in their churches" The Times (1 April). Really good thinking, Bishop. But how does that fit up with the usual homilies you give the poor about "do not thirst after the material things of life". It seems that it is a good idea for priests to tell punters but not necessarily a good one for the punters to tell the priests.

WELCOME TO THESE REFUGEES

A great deal of publicity is given to desperate workers travelling half the world to get a job in the UK but little is said of another group of immigrants who are welcomed with open arms to these shores. "Seven of the top richest billionaires in Britain come from overseas, according to the Sunday Times Rich List out tonight. The survey reveals that foreigners outnumber Britons at the top of the list, with steel tycoon  Lakshmi Mittal topping the table with an estimated wealth of £14.8 billion. Chelsea Football Club owner and oil magnate Roman Abramovich drops to second place, but his wealth has held steady over the year at £7.5 billion" The Scotsman (3 April). Why do we never hear about restrictions of movement or of the introduction of Identity Cards for these people?

A NICE LITTLE EARNER

The death of the Pope was supposed to fill the world with grief according to the newspapers, but there was one group of entrepreneurs that were rubbing their hands in glee. "With Pope John Paul II's funeral expected to draw up to 2 million people, at least one consumer group is accusing cafes, restaurants, grocery stores and hotels near St Peter's Square of boosting prices to gouge tourists and pilgrims. ... Orlando Salvio, a waiter at a restaurant near St Peter's. said businesses  are eager to cash in.  'Here everyone is happy - they're sad in a way, but happy in another,' he said. 'Obviously, the business owners are the happy one'" Yahoo News 4 April). A papal death can be good business for some.

NOW HE TELLS US

Former UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix said Wednesday that oil was one of the reasons for the US-led invasion Iraq, a Swedish news agency reported. did not think so at first. But the US is incredibly dependent on oil,' news agency quoted Blix as saying at a security seminar in Stockholm. 'They wanted to secure oil in case competition on the world market became too hard'" Canoe network: Cnews (6 April). So eventually a spokesman for the capitalist class gets round to saying what socialists have been saying all along.

DYING FOR PROFIT

"The drug industry received a pasting this week and it wasn't entirely undeserved. MPs accused it of cultivating a reliance on medicine in the UK by over-promoting products and trying to find new markets by categorising more and more people as in need of treatment. ... we have been sold the idea that a drug is miraculous, only to be scared silly months later and told that might kill us. The recent withdrawal of anti-arthritis drug Vioxx, once hailed doctors as safe and now linked to thousands of deaths, is a case in point" The Times (9 April). "Over-promoting" and finding new markets" is looked upon as good marketing strategy inside capitalism. few deaths is hardly going to stop the drive for bigger and bigger profits. Sorry about your mother, by the way.