Patrick Ward

Lazy Research

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People who get sacked from low paid jobs have nobody to blame but themselves, says Ken Livingstone.

"They have grown up their entire life in a house where nobody gets up before midday," he opined recently.

To top it off, vacant positions are being taken by Polish immigrants. Ken's extensive research is sound enough - apparently he has only been served coffee by a "born and bred Londoner" once during his time as mayor.

Getting them while they're young

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"Are you between 12 and 18 and looking for excitement?" asks the ad. "How does riding in a helicopter grab you? Or even rock climbing?"

Not just helicopters and rock climbing either: we're talking bob sleighs, rugby, tanks, computer games and getting shot at. Welcome to Camouflage, the glossy recruitment magazine from the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

There are several international laws preventing these youngsters going to the front line, but that doesn't stop the MoD putting them on the production line. The £1 million Camouflage website offers video clips of how cool you will be among your school mates if you enlist, and video games letting you blow people up with a tank, all for free if you register.

Pay as You Serve

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Prisoners in Orange County, California, will no longer have to stay in crowded cells or miss mobile phone calls - if they have money.

For just $75 to $127 a night, prisoners can upgrade to a cell with a laptop and sanctuary from non-paying inmates.

One jailed ex-sheriff was allowed three hot meals a day and use of a laptop - perhaps inappropriate considering he was convicted of using a computer for perjury, misuse of public funds and "borrowing" a helicopter.

The company running the jail claim "clients" can "avoid gang issues" and associate with people of "a similar persuasion as you." Rich people, perhaps?

Hoon Could Have Known?

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Former defence minister Geoff Hoon has admitted to making mistakes over Iraq, but it was all Dick Cheney's fault.

Plans for a humanitarian bloodbath were overturned by the US vice president, Hoon recently claimed. "Perhaps we didn't do enough to see it through the Sunni perspective," he mused.

"Maybe we were too optimistic about the idea of the streets being lined with cheering people," he additionally suggested. But at least the minister sleeps well at night: "I have reconciled it in my own mind," he said.

Black Gold/Fast Food Nation

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Directors Nick and Mark Francis/Director Richard Linklater

From Bowling for Columbine through The Corporation and Super Size Me, the market for progressive filmmakers has blossomed over the last decade. We now see the release of two very different additions to the radical genre.

Black Gold charts the journey of coffee, from the Ethiopian bean farmers, to the stock exchange traders. It is the story of a sack of beans costing a few cents transformed into hundreds of $3 cappuccinos.

Chasing the anti corporate market

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According to subversive looking "Information Revolution" campaign placards, stickers and posters it is time to break with Google's "monopolisation" of internet search tools.

However, subversive internet enthusiasts tend to check up on these things. It was soon discovered that information-revolution.org was owned by Google rival Ask.com.

Ask.com has now had to come clean about its involvement in "the movement", but maybe it is looking too closely at Stalinism for inspiration. It is now accusing anti-corporate bloggers on its message board of being counter-revolutionaries sent by Google.

They Know the Price of Everything

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Review of 'Priceless', Frank Ackerman and Lisa Heinzerling, New Press £17.95

According to a recent ruling by US regulatory body the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a human life is worth around $6.1 million. This figure was reached using simple mathematics - someone working in a hazardous job (in which one in every 100,000 workers is killed) is paid on average $61 more per year than a worker in a safer workplace. This means that each death is 'worth' $6.1 million.

... or Does Respect Deserve the Greens?

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One of the highlights of the anti-war movement has been the diversity of people and groups involved, and this certainly applies to the Green Party.

It is brilliant that we have had people such as Green MEP Caroline Lucas speaking at meetings and rallies against the war, and that they have given us articulate voices in the media. Generally speaking, the Greens have helped make the right points at the right times.

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