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"IT WAS the first time we had seen the Italian Red Cross. It was a media event."
"IT'S A slap in the face for junior doctors and a betrayal of patients."
"WHEN PFI [private finance initiative] through the private sector or consortia takes over, the jobs of cleaners, porters and janitors are effectively privatised and their pensions, wages and conditions are eroded."
"I HAVE been reported inaccurately. What I said was that those who opposed PFI must come up with an alternative and no one has done that. I will give Donald Dewar all the support he needs."
"MOST Conservatives have always accepted that the public services are intrinsically unsuited to delivery via the market."
"WE WILL always be proud of Margaret Thatcher and we will always be champions of the free market."
"I ARRIVED at work to be told that the BBC security people did not want me driving their staff around any more."
"THE ISSUE for us was not his nationality but his conduct. He has very strong opinions."
Judge and jury on war crimes
A RECENTLY published report revealed that thousands of people were killed and around 9,000 were imprisoned and tortured in detention camps. Over 10,000 people had their land confiscated and a further half a million were forced into "protected villages". These were not atrocities committed by Serbian troops in Kosovo. They were carried out by British troops in Kenya in the early 1950s.
Now former Mau Mau guerillas who fought a war against British colonial rule are to sue the British government for human rights abuses. John Nottingham, a British officer in Kenya during the emergency, admits the Mau Mau period was "one of the most sordid chapters of British colonial rule". He said, "One day six Mau Mau suspects were brought into a police station in the neighbouring district to mine. The British police inspector in charge lined them up against a wall and shot them. There was no trial."
When asked by the Guardian newspaper if the British action amounted to human rights abuses, Mr Nottingham said, "If throwing a phosphorus grenade into a thatched hut with a sleeping family inside isn't a human rights abuse, then I don't know what is."
THE election next year for a new London mayor is being seized on by PR company Voting Privatisation (VP) as a chance to make money. VP is promoting the idea that companies could pay to have voting kiosks on their premises, sponsor the polling cards and even give away vouchers for their products when people vote.
MARGARET Thatcher has been "drinking too much" since she ceased to be prime minister, according to a new book by George Walden, her former education minister and Tory MP for Buckingham. He says, "In the old days she would put down a whisky soda or two. Now she seems to have a little too much before dinner."
Walden adds that the alcohol has made her behave in an increasingly eccentric manner. At one buffet dinner with an Eastern European prime minister she was so pissed she just recited her old speeches.
DISGRACED New Labour minister Peter Mandelson was left short of cash when he was forced to hand over the £373,000 home "loan" from pal Geoffrey Robinson. But City fat cats Ernst & Young have chipped in by offering Mandelson £40,000 a year to "executive network" for them.
Meanwhile, the government is trying to keep secret huge pay rises handed out to government aides. Blair's spin doctor on loan to NATO, Alastair Campbell, now gets £91,000. Anji Hunter, Blair's personal adviser, has had a pay rise from £26,000 to £50,000.
TWO WEEKS ago NATO held its fiftieth anniversary celebrations in Washington. All homeless people were ordered to leave the Federal Triangle area of Washington. Meanwhile huge firms were welcomed in to use the chance of NATO's war in the Balkans to get some business done. Companies like Boeing and United Technologies were happy to cough up the quarter of a million dollars each to meet an executive member on the organising committee.
The car giants Fords, DaimlerChrysler and General Motors (GM) between them contributed $750,000 for a chance to welcome the NATO heads of government. GM tried to win the rights to sell its Opel Astra (manufactured in Hungary) in the former Yugoslavia. By happy coincidence NATO bombs destroyed Serbia's Yugo car factory just days before the summit.
Also at NATO's party was US Republican senator John McCain who was oozing praise for Tony Blair as "someone who understands the role of leadership in the world and that if NATO does not win this war [in Yugoslavia], there will be no NATO left". This was McCain's second birthday invite recently. He also sent Happy Birthday greetings to Joseph "Joe Bananas" Bonanno, the 90 year old retired boss of New York's Bonanno crime family.
IAIN WILSON couldn't understand why Advanced Communications International (ACI) suddenly decided that he and his two workmates, Leatof Karim and Simon Parke, were laid off. Their manager told the workers it was because of their scruffy appearance. But in private he said to Iain, "They don't have a problem with you-it's the other two. You know what I mean by that."
Karim is of Asian descent and Parke is of Afro-Caribbean descent. In a brilliant example of black and white unity Iain decided to stand by his workmates. A Leeds employment tribunal ruled that Iain Wilson had been unlawfully discriminated against by ACI on racial grounds and ACI former managers had unlawfully discriminated against Leatof and Simon. Iain declined an offer to return to work which was not made to his friends.
THE IRISH police have reopened investigations into the no-warning car bombs that wrecked Dublin and Monaghan in May 1974. Some 33 people were killed, the highest death toll in a single day in 30 years of the Troubles. Ever since there have been persistent claims of British security force involvement in the bombings.
The new probe centres on allegations made by John Weir, a former RUC special branch officer who was jailed for the 1977 killing of a Catholic grocer. Weir is thought to have alleged that members of the British army and the now disbanded Ulster Defence Regiment supplied the intelligence and explosives.