Pieces Together


“Once it was the Greeks who commanded the best boats. Aristotle Onasis’s yacht, Christina O, hosted Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, Eva Peron and Sir Winston Churchill who were all photographed on board. Then the Arabs became involved. Ten years ago, Diana, Princess of Wales, was photographed sunbathing on Mohamed Al Fayed’s yacht the weekend before she died. But in the past five years the Russians have turned it into a different league. Your bog-standard superyacht now costs between £40 and £70 million depending on the interior specification. The running costs tend to be about £5 million a year for the bigger vessels.” (Times, 23 October)



 “If it was not evident already how much developers in Dubai value the input of a celebrity name, the news that Kylie Minogue is to be paid about $4.4 million (£2.8 million) to officially open the $1.5 billion Atlantis Hotel on November 20 should silence any doubters. The Australian singer’s first performance in the Middle East will be part of a $35 million extravaganza billed as the most expensive party yet held – the fireworks alone are to cost $6.8 million. But why bother with such expenditure? The Atlantis has already attracted huge publicity over its £13,000 a night suites.” (Times, 31 October)



 “Bruce Springsteen wants to make sure one bank remains solvent: the Community Food Bank of New Jersey. The singer will appear in a newspaper ad for the state’s largest food bank that says: ‘We Can’t Let This Bank Fail!’ Springsteen has been a supporter of the food bank for 23 years, often donating proceeds from concerts or encouraging fans to bring food donations to his shows. This is the first time he’s lent his image to the anti-hunger campaign. The Community Food Bank says the economy has resulted in a 30 percent increase in those needing food and could lead it to ration supplies for the first time in its 26-year history. The food bank assists charities serving a half-million people each year.” (Yahoo News, 11 November)



“Families are flooding homeless shelters across the United States in numbers not seen for years, camping out in motels or staying with friends and relatives, homeless advocates say. ‘There are lots of families haemorrhaging into homelessness and we need to figure out how to put a tourniquet on the haemorrhaging,’ Philip Mangano, the homelessness czar appointed by President George W. Bush in 2002, told Reuters. There is little time to waste. The U.S. unemployment rate is at a 14-year high and more job losses are forecast, while the Mortgage Bankers Association says nearly 1.5 million homes are in the process of foreclosure.” (Reuters, 12 November)



 “Millions of elderly people will heat just one room in their homes this winter to cut down on soaring heat bills. Research by the charity Help the Aged found that 4.5 million people planned to live in one room in the coldest months. Many would stay in bed longer to keep warm, the charity found. A spokesman said: ‘It is a scandal that in a civilised society we are behaving in this way.’ Energy bills have risen by about 30 per cent this year.” (Times, 10 November)

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