Voice from the Back

Keep ’em laughing
“ATTITUDE CHANGERS” That’s what we call our irresistible HERMAN™ cartoon posters that will motivate employees to . . .
Show up every day
Show up on time
Turn out better work
At lower cost, too!
. . . instead of laughing at you or your company, they’re laughing at HERMAN. Clement Communications (UK) Ltd.

What a surprise!
Police forces across the country have been taking part in a huge fiddle in which they have pretended to detect tens of thousands of crimes and have wiped from the records a mass of other petty crimes, a Guardian investigation has revealed . . . In some cases the crimes were pure fiction invented simply so that they could be listed as detected. The criminals were virtually guaranteed that they would not be prosecuted. Some of them were rewarded with day trips out of prison, free meals and visits to girl friends. Guardian, 18 March

Still mystified
The combination [of high growth and low inflation] has been called the US economic miracle, and I do not think anyone has put their finger on how it works. One of the main factors is the growing use of technology, which allows companies to keep down costs. Despite the low level of unemployment, at 4.4 percent, there is less security in the jobs market, so wages and inflation are unlikely to rise at a rate that would cause inflation in the economy. Financial Mail on Sunday, 14 March.

Human meat market
Egypt’s prosecutor-general has launched an investigation into claims that 25 children were killed at a shelter for the homeless over a three-month period and their body parts sold to wealthy transplant patients in private hospitals . . . The children, many of them illegitimate, had been abandoned and left to fend for themselves on the streets . . . Both Egypt’s Muslims and Christians frown upon sex outside marriage and newspapers are full of stories of relatives killing women they suspect of being sexually active. Unmarried mothers are often forced to abandon their children out of fear and shame. Guardian, 18 March.  

Couldn’t cope
June Randall, a 25-year-old mother described as “distraught”, went on the run this week after snatching her three children as she visited them. The youngsters, all under six, were living in two foster homes after Miss Randall disappeared for a while last December when the children were living with her. She is thought to have said that she couldn’t cope. She is separated from the children’s father and has abandoned her home. Evening Mail, 26 March.

Expand or bust
Early one morning last week at a City livery hall senior executives from leading multinationals—IBM, British Telecom, Levis and Kodak among them—met to mull over problems they all face in doing business in the 21st century, including how to influence governments. Sinister? Only if you believe the sole purpose of business is to make profits. Here was an intriguing sign of the times. The topic before this group, convened by BT, came from a publication in which chairman, Sir Ian Vallance, proclaimed: “The pursuit of sustainable development is not an option—it is nothing more or less than a necessity for our economic survival.” Guardian, 18 March.

The filthy rich
It was 10 years ago that the Exxon Valdez oil tanker hit rocks in Prince William Sound, Alaska, spilling 11 million gallons of oil into pristine waters and devastating wildlife and the local economy . . . only two out of 28 injured species have recovered. Numbers of many species, including killer whales, are still declining. And commercial fishermen are still earning less than in 1989. Things look rosier in the head office of the company responsible for the disaster, Exxon (which trades as Esso in Europe). Last year, the company made more money than any other global corporation–$8.5 bn . . . Exxon can afford to clean up its act, but it chooses not to. A similar disaster could occur at any time. And Exxon is one of the most aggressive lobbyists against effort to cut greenhouse gas emissions and slow climate change. In fact, Esso’s bosses find it convenient to believe that global warming is not taking place, against the views of the vast majority of scientists. Exxon was behind plans, exposed in 1998, for a $6m PR campaign to undermine climate science . . . Esso’s parent company is still shipping oil in the outdated, single-hulled tankers and in the old, leaking Trans-Alaska Pipeline. In the seas between Russian and Japan it is discharging toxic wastes into the sea etc, etc. [The accompanying photograph is of the Exxon Valdez, now refurbished and renamed Sea River Mediterranean, taking on crude oil at Hound Point, South Queensferry.] Glasgow Herald, 24 March.

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