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The Voice From The Back

THE PRICE OF OIL
Away back in September 2003 two workers were suffocated to death in a huge gas leak on Shell's Brent Bravo oil platform in the North Sea. "Bill Campbell, a former senior manager with the oil giants, says vital maintenance work was ignored and lies told to allow platforms to carry on producing oil at all
times" (Daily Record, 14 June). The company were fined £900,000 for safety breaches. An amount that is completely derisory when compared with their billions in profits every year. Bill Campbell who worked in the North Sea for 25 years went on BBC Scotland TV to denounce the company, but they did not send a spokesperson to deny the charges. They were probably too busy counting their profits to consider the deaths of two expendable workers.

LAZY WORKERS?
"Avoiding work is a full-time job and seems to be getting harder, at least in America where
Workaholics Anonymous now has self-help branches in 35 cities. New figures suggest that employees
are working three hours a week more than their parents did, the equivalent to nearly four extra weeks a year" (Times, 21 June). Socialists used to be told that socialism was impractical because the working
class were too lazy. That argument certainly doesn't apply here.

A TALE OF THREE VIRGINS
Three sisters in Inverness featured in a bizarre insurance policy. They insured themselves against having a virgin birth. The insurance company only cancelled the policy because of religious pressure. "The Catholic Church was not happy about what we have been doing" (The Herald, 23 June).   
 What was their objection we wonder? They don't believe in virgin births? They could not accept the notion that the next Jesus might be a Jock? A second coming could lead to mass unemployment in the Vatican?.

SCIENCE AND PROFITS
Sir Ian Chalmers writing in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine states that the scientific record of clinical trials is being distorted by drug companies in order to protect sales. "Patients' lives are being put at risk because drug companies cannot be trusted to publish unbiased clinical research, according to a leading scientist" (Times, 29 June). We are dealing with capitalism, we are dealing with a multibillion dollar industry, why shouldn't we have distortion? After all that is how capitalism operates.

NOT NEWSWORTHY?
Every evening editors of The Sun, The Daily Mirror and The Daily Mail have to make a decision about what to splash on their front pages the next day. Shall it be Pop Star Sniffs Cocaine, Soap Star Visits Brothel or maybe Politician's Gay Secret? The senior policy officer for Water Aid, Henry Northover is hardly likely to make the tabloid's headlines with the following. "Imagine 20 Jumbo jets filled with children - that's the number who die every day owing to lack of clean water and sanitation" (Observer, 2 July). We are trying to imagine 20 Jumbo jets full of children crashing every day, and frankly it makes us ill, but of course it is not newsworthy in this mad society.

FOR THE GOOD TIMES
The end of the World Cup has left many social observers scratching their heads in disbelief. No
violence, no hooliganism and no mindless madness? Can this be the working class that the Daily Mail
are always warning us about? Tens of thousands of working men and women from all over the world,
enjoying each others' company, laughing, joking, dancing and who knows what else. It would almost
makes you believe that world socialism is possible, unless you read the Daily Mail of course.

AND THE BAD TIMES
Because of the proliferation of TV channels advertisers are concerned about their "lack of penetration"into profit-making areas. Even worse is the advent of VCR recorders, where people watch shows and delete the ads. The answers for these hucksters is to sponsor sports events. Unlike soaps, that workers can look at later, sports events are watched. While they occur. This explains why the TV rights for NFL (American football) is $3.7 billion, the World Cup $1.1 billion and why you had to watch those silly Budwieser ads. Worse is to follow. "Images like a giant Coca-Cola bottle emerging from the centre circle, can be projected onto the pitch" (Observer, 9 July). Perhaps they could arrange a penalty shoot.