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

New! See also our "Scoop!" page - exclusive news and investigations by the Simply Info News Team 

London Stock Markets had a disappointing week, with the leading FTSE100 approaching the 6000 level on Tuesday but dropping back to finish at 5,889.8 by Friday’s close, a loss of 25.2 points for the week. Following last week’s rise of just 18 points, analysts point at a general nervousness among investors and ambiguous comments from the U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan about the possibility of further interest rate cuts in the near future. With stock markets in both the UK and U.S. closed on Monday, some are saying that a weak close on both was inevitable on Friday.
The biggest loser in the FTSE100 on Friday was Railtrack, already suffering following its publication on Thursday of worse than expected losses and a warning of a funding gap. Indications are that further falls may follow, and Friday’s drop of 6.6% in its share price to 427.5, although off the day’s low of 410, is unlikely to be the worst. An analysts at a London investment bank commented, "The release made grim reading. Railtrack gave out a lot of information. It takes a while for people to digest it and work out the implications."
Market watchers are looking closely at Vodafone and considering the likely content of figures due for release next week. Some believe that good news from this mobile phone giant could succeed in pushing the FTSE100 back over the 6000 level from the range in which it currently seems to be trapped.

Figures published on Friday indicate the UK economy in the first quarter of this year has grown slightly more than originally estimated, putting the over all rate of growth at 2.6% for the last 12 months. This remains well below the level required to avoid being classed as an economic slowdown. According to economists, although Britain’s domestic demand remains healthy, growth is being hampered by the effects of global economic problems which continue to have a serious effect on exports. More encouragingly, retail sales remain strong and have gone some way to compensate for lack of spending in other areas including tourism.
The figures are seen by some to mean that the Bank of England will not lower interests rates any further than the present 5.25%, although others still believe the rates will move below 5% before there is the likelihood of any rise.
Foot-and-mouth disease was said to have had only a minimal impact on the UK’s economic output in the first quarter.

As the General Election campaign reaches its peak, and politicians of all parties seem to be digging deeper and deeper to find the mud to sling at each other, a leading charity has accused politicians of "cynically misusing" children in their campaigns. The NSPCC said they were "appalled to see children being used as props or being pointedly vilified in an attempt to win votes in this election" and cited the use of children in pre-arranged photo opportunities and election broadcasts. Tony Blair came in for particular criticism for launching his campaign in a south London school. "Politicians should be campaigning for children rather than using them for their campaign," said the NSPCC’s Mary Marsh, "Children are citizens who deserve action - in the areas of health, tax and the economy, law and order and transport, as well as education and social policy." The Conservatives were also criticised for a controversial party election broadcast showing images of children setting fire to a car.
Might it be even more cynical to suggest that politicians "cynically misuse" anyone and everyone if it suits them? And not just during a General Election campaign.

Newspapers, and Internet News Sites, have traditionally published news and views on sensitive issues under the banner of being "in the public interest" and sometimes regardless of damage that publication might do. Is it pure stupidity that one particular newspaper today chose as their front page headlines "Cancer Fear Over Milk" and then went on to say (in very small writing) there is no evidence of a risk and if there is a risk then it applies to a very, very small number of people? They added that there were fears the warning might prompt consumers to boycott milk, with potentially disastrous results for both public health, the milk industry, and farmers. So what are they doing putting it on the front page in huge headlines? Surely this is the quickest way to create panic when none is justified?
I assume it was a "slow news day". Another of the tabloids carried a story about stars of television’s Coronation Street having their salaries cut by £50,000 a year. Exciting stuff (!). But that’s no excuse.
We (by which I mean the news industry, if I may include Simply Info in that) all like to be able to publish a good sensational story, but this is sensationalism at its worst, its most dangerous, and its most irresponsible.

26th May 2001                        

Links to other news comments:

10-June-2001
03-June-2001
26-May-2001
19-May-2001
12-May-2001
05-May-2001
21-April-2001
14-April-2001
07-April-2001
31-March-2001
24-March-2001
18-March-2001
11-March-2001
04-March-2001
24-Feb-2001
18-Feb-2001
10-Feb-2001
03-Feb-2001
27-Jan-2001
20-Jan-2001
13-Jan-2001
06-Jan-2001
30-Dec-2000

Feel free to send your comments, opinions, and letters to Erithacus we will be pleased to publish suitable letters at the discretion of the editor.

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