So what nifty little nuggets of news have we had recently to lighten our day? Not necessarily to prove the world is going mad or to hell in a hand basket, that is already decided, but just out of curiosity you might say.
Well to start with - Large sums of money received by Somalia's interim UN-backed government have not been accounted for, a World Bank report says. It alleges a discrepancy of about $130m (£85m) in the accounts over two years. The report stops short of making specific allegations, but does not rule out corruption as a possible explanation for the missing government revenue funds. Surprise surprise, now who on earth would have thought it?
A US drug company has agreed to pay out $1.6bn (£1bn) after improperly marketing a mood-stabilising drug in a settlement thought to be the largest of its kind involving a single drug. Abbott Laboratories will pay $800m to federal and state governments, $700m in criminal penalties and a further $100m to resolve consumer protection issues. Now what does that tell you about the profits made by the big drug companies?
The UK's richest people have defied the double-dip recession to become even richer over the past year, according to the annual Sunday Times Rich List. The newspaper's research found the combined worth of the country's 1,000 wealthiest people is £414bn, up 4.7%.There are now 77 billionaires on the list, with individuals needing to have at least £72m to make the top 1,000.
Several leading British entrepreneurs, who are further down the list, have seen their wealth increase this year. Some of Britain's best-known performers and artists have also seen their fortunes improve. Sir Paul McCartney's recent marriage to his third wife Nancy Shevell, who is the daughter of an American trucking magnate, sees him become the third wealthiest man in British music, as their combined wealth is now rated at £665m. The two people surpassing him are music executive Clive Calder and theatre owner and producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh, whose fortune has gone up to £725m. (Interesting this – when we submitted the musical LA BELLE OTERO his immediate reaction was to scream, “No money!” No money!”) Harry Potter creator JK Rowling's worth has risen by £30m in the last year to £560m, putting her 148th on the list and the Beckhams are worth £190million.
The four directors who had to share a paltry £57million must be squirming with jealousy at the income of Xstrata’s top staff in line for a pay out of £242million. Beat that if you can. But let us leave high finance and see what other news is there?
Well, in Scotland, after watching hard-core porn on the internet, a twelve year old boy raped a nine year old girl whose family lived next door. When asked why he did it he said it was because he wanted to be grown up. The rape only came to light when the girl complained to her mother that she “might have a baby in her tummy.”
Facebook boss informs women they could very well advance their careers by doing a bit more sobbing in the office. Presumably male softies will immediately surrender to this emotional blackmail.
Now this one really deserves an entry into Ripley’s “Believe It Or not.” The United Nations has appointed Monster Mugabe the UN’s ‘tourism envoy.’ Perhaps he could start by organizing bus trips to the killing fields of Zimbabwe.
A trip to the seaside for inner city disadvantaged kids, what do you think their priority would be? But of course, having licked their ice-creams it would be to dip their toes in the water. No no no no! Perish the thought, says elf and safety, out of the question. Six inches of water is far too dangerous. Do they think the kids are likely to suffer sharks attacks or what? These kids were not infants. Their ages ranged from 14 to 16 and their handicaps were minor but, despite the presence of four teachers and two charity workers it was deemed too dangerous for them to paddle in waters that barely covered their ankles. God help us. (Just an expression.)
A truly feeble joke on television about Cornwall has raised Cornish ire to erupting volcanic proportions. Dan Rogerson Liberal Democrat MP for North Cornwall said the gag proved that the Cornish are ‘discriminated against as a group’ and has made a formal complaint of racism to the BBC and the Equalities and Human Rights Commission. Excuse me for a moment while I break into hysterical laughter.
It gets worse, or more ridiculous, whichever way you care to look at it. Nikky Smedley who played Laa-laa in the popular BBC television programme ‘Telebubbles’ has refuted a claim made by the late Jerry Falwell that they were part of an international gay conspiracy. The good reverend said Tinky Winky’s purple costume and triangular antennae signified as much. Mr. Smedly says: ‘What kind of person can take obvious innocence and turn it into something else?’ Obviously an American evangelical.
But in order not to weary my, probably already weary, readers, let us for a moment consider the Olympics. A Devon Estate Agent, as a gesture of support for the Olympic torch passing through his town, used five hula hoops to create in his window the Olympic symbol. The result? The London organizing committee of the Olympic Games wrote insisting ‘Olympic related’ material be taken down or face legal procedures. A florist was warned displaying her Olympic ring display could get her sued and an 81 year old had to withdraw a doll from a church sale because its knitted outfit bore the Olympic symbol.
And, finally, still on the subject of the Olympics that seems to have turned into a financial behemoth (it virtually bankrupted Greece and will more than likely do the same for England) we are used to fast food outlets asnd cheap restaurants giving detailed descriptions of their dishes with plenty of delicious adjectives, just in case your average punters need their salivary glands stimulated so why should the Olympic caterers not do the same? So we have in a sandwich Red Leicester British cheese,, apple chutney and farmhouse lettuce on Oxfordshire(!) bread. There is any number of items headed ‘Red tractor’ but it doesn’t mention that ‘Red Tractor’ is a food company. We have Farm-assured Yorkshire butter, Dingley-Dell bacon, Irish mashed potatoes, pole-line-caught tuna, and what is all this flannel in aid of? It’s so that when you have to dig deep into your pocket and stump up eight quid for the plat de jour, your actual bangers, mash, and gravy you feel you’re really getting your money’s worth.
And that is the news on this bright sunny day. Greece might be in the biggest financial mess of all times but it has not lost its sense of proportion – thank God! (only an expression.)