Money in the news and how you are going to pay and pay and pay
TORY MP Derek Conway has been upbraided for using taxpayer-funded expenses to pay his teenage son almost £50,000 as a “researcher” – “even though there is no evidence of any work having been done.”
It emerged that Derek Conway had also employed his eldest son, Henry, as a researcher while he attended Cambridge
Mr Conway’s son, Frederick stopped “working” for his father last August after the scandal became public and is now understood to be studying at Sandhurst military academy.
It also emerged yesterday that Mr Conway used to employ his elder son, Henry, as a researcher while he was at Cambridge.
Henry was also paid £10,000 a year between July 2001 and October 2004. It was reported that he earned £32,000 over that period.
Frederick who at the time was a geography student at Newcastle University, was paid up to £11,773 a year, plus bonuses, for almost three years. In total, he received a gross salary of £45,163 plus pension contributions worth another £4,500.
Geography students: Discuss…
YESTERDAY’S news that McDonalds’ is to offer its own qualifications “equal to GCSEs”, occupies the Guardian’s leader writer.
“The fear that education would fall prey to the profiteers emerged yesterday after it was announced that authority to award A-level-style qualifications was being given to three firms: the airline Flybe, Network Rail and, most iconically, McDonald’s. If McQualifications were to displace traditional study, that would surely do for erudition what fast food has done for the diet.”
The Guardian is like that American teacher who gives their failing students an F-grade and an McDonald’s application form. This will inspire them to become more academic, not just give up and get a McJob.
And then this: Gordon Brown yesterday warned of the dire fate that would befall Britain if it failed to close its skills gap…The response is a mixed one, Mr Brown proposes heavy-handed welfare reforms along with welcome expansion in public sector apprenticeships. His plans are far from perfect, but it is to be hoped they will do the trick, because, for all yesterday’s McFlurry of publicity, McQualifications will not be enough.”
So, you can learn from the state – good – but learning from a hugely successful private enterprise is bad? And how do you get the money to fund State-run apprenticeships?
The city that likes to think of itself as blasé about the many stellar presences shining in its midst is anything but. It must be written into the New York estate agent code of practice that they inform potential buyers or renters as soon as possible of any celebrity infestation in the area…
The Anorak once stood in a New York shop next to Jennifer Lopez and can only recall how short she was. There is fun to be had in spotting a celebroty. Of course, we do not all live in New York. Celebrities spotted around Anroak Towers feature Rusty Lee, the 1980s Ainsley Harriott, Page 3 stunna Nichola McLean, a footballer named “Smudger” by people who recognise him and the one not called Noel from Hear’Say.
And if stars help to define an area, some believe the reverse can also be true. Ledger’s death has been spun in some parts of the local press as a sort of morality tale, his two-mile move across the East River laden with symbolism. Old pictures were dug out of him out in the Brooklyn sunshine with pushchair and baby, a challenge to subsequent reports of late nights partying with models and Olsen twins after he’d split up with his fiancée and moved to the wicked big city.
Killed by Perth. And now offed by Manahttan. Which city really did for Heath Ledger..?
“It makes me laugh to read that the French trader who lost £3.6billion for Societe Generale was driven by two tragedies – splitting up with his wife and the death of his father,” says Parsons, laughing.
Tony is capturing the synergy between the showbiz press and the world of high finance. It take a columnist to spot links in what you or I may see as a non-sequitur. It’s what makes him a legend in Fleet Street.
Parson notes: “Splitting up with someone is not a tragedy. Nor is burying a parent when you are in your 30s a tragedy. These are the knocks we all suffer in everyday life. Calling them tragedies is overkill.
“Look at the faces of Heath Ledger’s devastated parents – burying your child is a tragedy.
“Think about Heath Ledger’s two-year-old daughter Matilda – that little girl never knowing her father is a tragedy.”
JEROME Kerviel has committed the biggest individual fraud in history. In France, he’s a hero:
France behind the biggest ‘rogue trader’ scandal of all time. Some 300 miles west of Paris, in his home village of Pont l’Abbé on the Brittany peninsula, Kerviel is a hero – particularly with the ladies in the hair salon his mother used to own.
‘He was your ideal son-in-law,’ said 62-year-old Martine Le Pohon, who remembers Jérôme helping his mother out on Saturdays at Un Monde Imagin’ Hair. ‘And if it turns out that he has stood up to the system to the tune of €5m, well, as far as I am concerned, that makes him even more ideal.’
Maryvonne Even, 40, said Kerviel was a scapegoat. ‘He was probably caught fiddling – a bit – and the bosses decided to blame him for all their losses,’ she said.
But this is not just local Breton solidarity. In France, where there is profound popular distrust for big finance, strong opposition to ‘international capitalism’ and a belief in the ‘French model’ as opposed to ‘savage Anglo-Saxon liberalism’, the views of the ladies in Pont l’Abbé are widespread.
It’s all our fault…
“ONLINE tax system ‘too risky’ for the famous,” says the Telegraph.
Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs admits the system is not secure enough to be used by MPs, celebrities and the Royal Family, although not necessarily in that order.
The risk is that Tax records contain NI numbers, bank account and salary details – all valuable to fraudsters.
Men in cravats and generous ears will pass themselves off as Prince Charles; freckly youths called Wayne will clean Argos of jewellery; people will think Gordon Brown spends £26,467 a year on hair gel.
As such, thousands of “high profile” people have been “secretly barred” from using the online tax return system.
From this October, non VIPs are required to file a self-assessment online or face a fine. However, HMRC has a list of those excluded from the new rules who must send hard copies of returns for “security reasons”.
As the paper notes: “HMRC stressed that all taxpayers’ details were secure.”
EQUAL RIGHTS NOW!
But this smacks of discrimination. Why should the great and good be prevented from accessing the same cutting-edge technology as the rest of us, forced instead to use ancient ink and embarrassing paper?
A rebellion is already underway. The We Are Not Celebs movement is petitioning for a change in the rules.
Reports are that Kerry Katona, Anthea Turner and Bubble from Big Brother 3 have already signed up and are telling everyone and everyone that they are not really celebrities and challenging the Government to spot their talent.
Prince Edward denies being a Royal and Sarah Teather says only a madman would describe her as an MP…
EQUAL RIGHTS NOW!
Gates said the self-interest behind capitalism had driven multiple innovations but to harness it to the benefit of all required the system be refined. Greater focus on recognition for improving the lives of others could provide a spur for companies to focus more on making money out of providing valuable products at affordable prices to the world’s poor. He urged multinationals to pledge the services of their top people to the work.
Ah, I get it. White man speak with forked tongue… “but to harness it to the benefit of all required the system be refined”. Bill Gates is not in fact calling for voluntary anything, he is calling for The System to be ‘refined’, which means he wants to make capitalism less capitalist and more politically directed by our caring masters. Could the fact he hangs out with show biz types and politicos who are all solidly statist give us a clue to decoding his words here?
Bono – Mr G9? More on him here. And more on the meaning of capitalism here…
Kerviel is “LE ROGUE TRADER, the Independent’s front-page news.
“The world of high finance, already shaken by the imprudent greed of some of its biggest corporate names, is stunned by the largest ever fraud by an individual ‘rogue’ trader.”
Might this be a good day to bury bad news?
It’s Pounds for Pounds. And if the fatties pound the pavement and run it’s Pounds For Pounds For Pounds.
Sadly, the initiative already has a name – Healthy Weight, Healthy Lives – and is under the auspices of the Well@Work scheme.
The Telegraph says that one competition, called The Biggest Loser, awarded £130 in gift vouchers for the participant who lost the most weight.
This is just the start.
Companies should be encouraged to flag their interests, perhaps replacing the Ltd and PLC parts of their names with something to reveal that their clinically obese staff have signed up to the scheme.
What about [company name] FAT or FLAB (Fat Loser Aerobic Business)?
And there are are the belly ads…
A Britney photo garners anywhere from $250 (for a run-of-the-mill shot of her at Starbucks) to $100,000 or more.
The photo agency X17, which has a team trailing her 24-7, estimates that Britney accounts for 30 percent of its revenue: It sold $2.5 million worth of Britney photos in 2007 alone, including $500,000 for its exclusive Bald Britney pics. Competitor Splash News says that Britney accounts for 10 to 15 percent of its business, boosted this year by $200,000 for photos of Britney in a hot tub.
All told, Britney probably makes up a full 20 percent of the paparazzi business.
A celebrity tabloid with Britney Spears on the cover sells 1.28 million newsstand copies, some 33 percent more than the average. Between January 2006 and July 2007, Britney was a cover subject of People, Us Weekly, In Touch, Life & Style, OK!, or Star a total of 175 times in just 78 weeks. During that period, newsstand sales of issues with her on the cover amounted to a staggering $360 million.
SO dominate is the polar bear that it is now used to illustrate the curent economic climate.
While some may prefer a sloth bear, Matt Drudge uses a roaring polar bear.
THE Hello! factor puts us into debt, but “We’re free of debt at age 50 says new research (well, sort of).”
The Mail notes: “At the age of 50 years and 90 days the average Briton finally shakes off the shackles of student loans, credit card debts and personal loans and can look forward to a richer future.”
And, as lucky has it, that is also the age when your are deemed too old to appear within the pages of Hello!.
Granted some wrinkles make it onto the glossiness, but they feature in ensemble pieces, and taking an average age of the all body parts (old and new) we confirm that no one is older than 50 years and 90 days. Indeed, Zsa Zsa Gabor is spot on.
But the Mail pinpoints it exactly, telling readers: “How the Hello! factor is driving millions into debt.”
We are in the grip of a “spendemic”. Ann Robinson, director of consumer policy at Uswitch, said:
“We are caught in a spiral of conspicuous consumption. It is no longer enough to keep up with the Joneses.
“Instead we want to live like our favourite celebrities. But it is clear our salaries cannot keep up with our ‘Hello! magazine lifestyles’.”
Luckily, like you, the Anorak’s favourite celebrity is Anthea Turner, who has not been in the pages of Hello! for some time…
A selection of front-page headline reveals the big story of the day:
THE GUARDIAN: “Black Monday: recession fears spark global shares crash”
THE SCOTSMAN: “PANIC”. This one has pictures of men in shirts shouting and holding their heads in their hands
DAILY MAIL: “£75bn wiped off FTSE ++ Biggest fall in day scone 9/11 ++ record slump in mortgage lending ++ fears of a recession grow stronger”
DAILY EXPRESS: “Floods snow and worst stock market crash since 9/11”
THE TIMES: “World markets plunge”
DAILY TELEGRAPH: “Recession fears spark biggest shares fall since 9/11”
THE INDEPENDENT: “CRASH”
DAILY MIRROR: “Health fears for TV legend Jack” – Emmerdale’s Jack Sugden might be ill
“DIAMONDS ? Gold? Old hat! Tractors are the thief’s holy grail,” says the Times.
Hundreds of tractors are being stolen in an extraordinary crimewave that is worth £3 million a year and affects most counties in rural Britain. It is being investigated by police forces nationwide, working with the National Plant and Equipment Register in Operation Mermaid.
It’s a big problem:
They are particular about their pickings, and have a penchant for the distinctive green and yellow tractors of the John Deere brand. John Deere tractors usually cost between £63,700 and £75,000, and even second-hand models can be sold for up to £50,000. Some top-of-the-range tractors cost more than £100,000.
As Tim notes: “Taking that second hand value £3 million a year is 60 a year. So that ‘hundreds’ looks like a tad of hyperbole, don’t you think?
HM Treasury (National) -(HMT) Northern Rock
HM Treasury, on behalf of the Tripartite Authorities, today announces a new financing structure that could be made available to Northern Rock and other interested parties, for a possible private sector solution for the entire company. This new financing structure would only be available for proposals that would protect taxpayers’ interests, as well as meeting the Tripartite Authorities’ other stated objectives of financial stability and the protection of consumers. If no proposal is received which meets these objectives, the Government would bring forward legislation in order to facilitate temporary public ownership of Northern Rock.
In any event, the existing Government guarantee arrangements remain in place. Savers’ money continues to be safe and secure.
The proposed financing structure envisages Northern Rock raising funds from investors in the financial markets backed by a mixed pool of assets. This structure would ensure all Bank of England loan facilities to the company are repaid in full, with interest, upfront, as soon as the funds are raised. To facilitate this, the Treasury would put in place a guarantee for the payment of investors in the event that the assets were insufficient to fulfil the obligations, although any losses to the asset pool would first be borne by Northern Rock to protect the taxpayer. Northern Rock would pay a fee for this guarantee in addition to the fees for the existing guarantee arrangements which will continue.
The Tripartite Authorities consider that this would reflect their stated objectives, as a proposal using this structure would have the potential to:
– ensure the Bank of England’s loan facilities to the company are repaid in full, with interest, upfront as soon as the funds are raised;
– contribute to finding a cost-effective solution under private sector ownership with the private sector at first risk for Northern Rock’s commercial success or failure;
– involve significant private sector participation, including new private sector capital, in the financing of Northern Rock; and
– provide the Treasury with the ability to share in the potential upside returns for private sector participants in return for the financial support being provided to the company.
Proposals would need to demonstrate compliance with a range of conditions, including a robust business plan, commitment of sufficient additional capital and management and ownership by suitable persons, appropriate for the provision of financial support of the kind contemplated. There would also be clear restrictions on the sale of the company and on dividend payments whilst the taxpayer remains at any risk. The proposals will also have to be consistent with the regulatory requirements of the FSA.
HM Treasury and the Bank of England, as providers of financial support to the company, and the Financial Services Authority, as its regulator, will consider proposals received by 4 February from Northern Rock and other interested parties.
The Tripartite Authorities recognise that any proposal relying on this financing structure is likely to involve state aid, which would require approval by the European Commission, and will submit a restructuring plan to the Commission by 17 March. HM Treasury and the Bank of England will make arrangements for the existing Bank of England loan facilities to be extended up to this date to allow time to explore the financing structure with Northern Rock and other interested parties.
In the event of temporary public ownership, the company would be managed at arms’ length on a commercial basis. An experienced and professional management team would be appointed. Services for savers and borrowers would not be affected and the company would continue to operate and provide services to customers as normal. Branches, call centres, postal and internet banking would all continue to be open and accessible, as usual.
Any decision or announcement to take Northern Rock into temporary public ownership would also address the future of the Northern Rock Foundation.
EX Lib-Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell is joining the board of SCOTTISH AMERICAN INVESTMENT COMPANY. The company’s nickname is Saints.
You can find the Scottish American Investment Co. plc in the fiance pages under… SCAM.
IN FLORIDA McDonald’s Corp. has pulled -voluntarialty – its sponsorship of report-card covers in Seminole County, Fla., public schools.
“This is a good day for parents and children in Seminole County and anyone who believes that corporations should not prey on children in schools,” says Dr. Susan Linn, director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. “We are pleased that McDonald’s is listening to parents all over the country who believe that report cards should not be commercialized.”
McDonald’s had agreed to sponsor the report-card jackets for the county’s elementary schools. On the covers, McDonald’s was to offer a free happy meal to any scholar with A’s and B’s, two or fewer absences, or good behavior.
Protests were made.
“It was McDonald’s decision to remove our trademarks from report-card jackets in Seminole County, Fla., because we believe the focus should be on the importance of a good education,” said Bill Whitman, a spokesman for McDonald’s USA. “McDonald’s, not the school district, will cover the cost to reprint the report-card jackets.”
Because a corporation using education to advertise looks shallow, greedy and abusive? Becaue Ronald the neon clown gives the children bad dreams? Well:
Regina Klaers, a spokeswoman for the school district, said in December that the school approached McDonald’s for the sponsorship, not vice versa. For the 10 years prior to McDonald’s sponsorship, Pizza Hut had picked up the tab. During that time, Ms. Klaers said, there were no parental complaints.
Thin and crispy. Or stuffed?
THE “craze” going on in the United Kingdom involves people take pictures of themselves partially covered with folded banknotes. At least so say the American site Freaking News.
(Has anyone seen anyone doing this?)
The result is this:
IN ‘Poultry is not a class issue, old Etonian Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall tell us about chicken:
But a commercially produced free range bird, not organic, can be had in most supermarkets for a little over £5. And there is another – cheaper – higher welfare option provided by the RSPCA’s Freedom Foods method of poultry rearing. All the major supermarkets offer this bird or an own-brand equivalent, and these typically sell for about £4. As one of these birds will easily feed a family of four – twice, in the hands of a keen and resourceful cook – you could even say they are a bargain.
You could. Only:
And be in no doubt, these birds may be reared inside but they have, through lower stocking levels and an enriched environment, certainly led more comfortable and less stressful lives than the “two for a fiver” birds piled beside them in the supermarket chill cabinet. The irresistible pressure on many shoppers to buy cheap chicken arises not because higher welfare birds are expensive, but because standard factory farmed poultry is aggressively, artificially and, I would say, shamefully cheap.
I would say a bargain…
I believe that there is a continued need for a domestic poultry industry that can deliver good value chicken at a keen price for a massive popular market. But basic welfare reform is an urgent matter. If something like the RSPCA standards were adopted as a new starting point for the industry, it would add only 50p to the cost of raising a bird. That includes a fairer price for the farmers, who are struggling to stay in business as their grim product sells for insultingly low prices.
Let’s hear it for more expensive chicken!
EMI: “Guy Hands’ attempts to prevent an exodus of talent from EMI have suffered a blow with the Rolling Stones’ decision to release their new album through rival Universal Music.
“The album, Shine A Light, will be released in March, and will accompany a Martin Scorsese film of the same name that features two live shows the band performed in New York in 2006.”
Yeah, what a blow. Does anyone buy a new Rolling Stones album?
EMI faces a rebellion:
But it is hard not to sympathise with the new bosses’ surprise at discovering entries in EMI’s accounts such as £200,000 for fresh fruit and flowers – a well-known industry euphemism for artists’ partying requirements – or the fact that 30% of the advances they hand out never result in an album being made, let alone one that people want to buy. But you do not need to audit a major record label’s accounts to know that there is a serious problem – just listen to Radio 1. Talk to anyone in the music industry, and they will admit that the parallel themes of gross profligacy and crap records are not unconnected.
Take a look at what they produce…
FROM the Forums: When the Nationalisation goes through, it may be as well to understand that it means every single N. Rock mortgage borrower is going to wake up and find a Government which finds it difficult to cope with the correct way of dealing with political donations is going to have the FIRST CHARGE on the title deeds of hundreds of thousands of private homes and business properties….
IN “The Globalization Election”, Fred Siegel writes:
Clinton’s slide in the polls began when she muffed a debate question about whether she supported New York governor Eliot Spitzer’s proposal to issue driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants. But when, in a subsequent debate, Obama botched his answer to the same question, he suffered no political penalty. That’s because Clinton draws her support heavily from white and black working- and middle-class voters who feel threatened by the double bind of increased internal and external economic competition. Obama’s core constituency, by contrast, is made up of people who have benefited from outsourcing and immigration, so the issue of illegal immigration doesn’t cut against him.
As Clive Davis notes, “there’s a clear class divide”…
SOME economic analysis from Hillary Clinton: “I think we’re slipping toward a recession,” she said. “A couple of people that I met on the street, they work in construction. They tell me it’s slowed down.”
Hillary’s common touch…