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Pieces Together:

PEACE PRIZE ?
"President Obama is planning to increase spending on America's nuclear weapons stockpile just days after pledging to try to rid the world of them. In his budget to be announced on Monday, Mr Obama has allocated £4.3billion to  maintain the U.S. arsenal - £370million more than George Bush spent on nuclear weapons in his final year. The Obama administration also plans to spend a further £3.1billion over the next five years on nuclear security. The announcement comes despite the American President declaring nuclear weapons were the ‘greatest danger’ to U.S. people during in his State of the Union address on Wednesday. And it flies in the face of Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize, awarded to him in October for ‘his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples’." (Daily Mail, 29 January)

DEBT RIDDEN BRITAIN
"There has been a huge rise in the amount of money that banks are writing off as bad debts on their credit cards. Bank of England figures show that the total value of the write-offs doubled to £1.6bn in the third quarter of 2009. In each of the two preceding quarters, the figure had been about £800m. It totalled £3.2bn during 2008. The figures reflect the impact of the recession and are an acknowledgement by the banks that the money will never be repaid by defaulting borrowers. By contrast, the value of mortgages written off in 2008 was just £408m, and has averaged £260m in each of the first three quarters of 2009." (BBC News, 19 January) 

THE GAP WIDENS
"The richest 10% of the UK population are now more than 100 times as wealthy as the poorest 10%, according to the Anatomy of Economic Inequality. The study shows that by 2008 Britain had reached the highest level of income inequality since soon after the second world war. Household wealth (including cars and other possessions of the top 10% amounts to £853,000 or more, while the poorest 10% amass £8,800 or less."  (Observer, 31 January)

"CARING" CAPITALISM
Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer has compared giving people government assistance to "feeding stray animals." Bauer, who is running for the Republican nomination for governor (of South Carolina), made his remarks during a town hall meeting in Fountain Inn that included state lawmakers and about 115 residents. "My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed. You're facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don't think too much further than that. And so what you've got to do is you've got to curtail that type of behavior. They don't know any better," Bauer said." (Greenville News, 23 January)