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News Comment
a personal view of the week's news from Erithacus

The stock markets showed definite signs of recovery this week, as the FTSE100 index finished up 164.7 at 5766.6. Upward movements on the U.S. stock markets, however, were considerably more pronounced, as the Dow Jones index climbed 3.4% to finish at 10126.94, and the Nasdaq put on a remarkable 14% to close at 1961.43, its second largest weekly gain ever and the first time it has managed four successive days of rises since 1st September last year. While many analysts point to indicators showing the stock markets are still far from the beginning of a sustained recovery, there is a general feeling that the bottom has been reached and investors can look forward to rising share prices in the next few months. Nervousness continues, however, and it seems unlikely we have seen the end of the volatility that has both frightened investors and delighted many traders recently.

Although foot-and-mouth appears to have peaked in the UK, and the daily number of new cases of the disease has been lessening, the culling and disposal of infected and at-risk animals continues to pose a major problem. Disturbing television pictures yesterday (Friday) showed a lone marksman with a rifle trying to kill a flock of terrified sheep. As the animals ran in circles to avoid the man, his only shot to come close to its mark merely wounded a sheep. Holding the rifle in one hand while steadying the struggling animal with the other, he tried to fire a final shot to kill it while the rest of the flock ran round in panic.
This is horrific. Surely, however serious the crisis for farming and the UK countryside, there can be no justification for this sort of action? If the animals must be killed, as most people accept they must, then it must be done quickly, cleanly and humanely. To allow this to continue is barbaric. Is this what the government intended when they announced the latest policy of culling animals in areas near to outbreaks of the disease? Or have insufficient resources been made available to handle this properly and in a civilised manner, as far as that can be possible in such a situation.? I hear that over half a million animals are now awaiting slaughter and disposal, and that at least one of the most recent new cases of the disease is a direct result of the delay in slaughter or disposal of infected or "at risk" animals.
At the same time, as the horror on our farms unfolds, we are being told that the countryside is "open for business" and last night’s television news announced, apparently with surprise, that nearly two-thirds of people in the UK believe they should avoid infected areas.
This is not just a crisis in farming, tourism, and related industries. This is a totally unnecessary departure from normal standards of decent and civilised behaviour. It makes me very sad. And very, very angry. Please feel free to e-mail, and express YOUR opinion.

The local council of Henley-on-Thames have been faced with a dilemma this week. Keen as they are to attract visitors at this time when the tourist industry is in crisis, they were somewhat less keen on a proposal to hold a lap dancing competition in the town. Fierce local objections to the competition have resulted in its cancellation. Henley's mayor, Councillor Tony Lane, said he was outraged at even the suggestion the championships could have been held in the town. "Henley Royal Regatta together with the Henley Festival has an image which I think lap dancing would degrade quite considerably," he added. Indeed, an investigation by Simply Info revealed Henley-on-Thames to be depressingly free from sleaze of any type. Unless, that is, YOU know better – e-mail


14th April 2001                        


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