In May this year, a huge company listed on the London Stock Exchange found itself in the midst of controversy about a prison it runs for the government – Thameside, a newly built jail next to Belmarsh, in south-east London. A report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate found that 60% of its inmates were locked up all day, and there were only "vague plans to restore the prison to normality". The prison campaign group the Howard League for Penal Reform talked about conditions that were "truly alarming". Two months later, the same company was the subject of a high- profile report published by the House Of Commons public accounts committee, prompted by the work of Guardian journalist Felicity Lawrence. This time, attention was focused on how it was managing out-of-hours GP services in Cornwall, and massive failings that had first surfaced two years before. Again, the verdict was damning: data had been falsified, national standards had not been met, there was a culture of "lying and … [Read more...] about Serco: the company that is running Britain
World business culture
Commodities trader Glencore and miner Xstrata are in active talks about merging to create a £50bn global mining group. News of the talks, which could lead to a deal being formally announced as early as next week, sent shares in Xstrata rocketing almost 10% to close at £12.30 and Glencore shares were up almost 7% to 461.70p. New UK "put up or shut up" takeover rules mean that Glencore, the world's biggest commodities trader, now has until 1 March to make a formal offer. Xstrata informed the market on Thursday morning that Glencore had approached it over a "merger of equals". However both companies cautioned that "there can be no certainty that any offer will be made". Ivan Glasenberg, Glencore's chief executive, has been pushing for the deal for years, and Glencore has already built up a 34% stake in Xstrata. Glasenberg, a former coal trader who led the company to a £38bn flotation in London in May, said in August that he was "aggressively" seeking mergers and … [Read more...] about Glencore and Xstrata in talks over £50bn ‘merger of equals’
German politicians have criticised the former London mayor Boris Johnson for claiming the EU has the same goal as Hitler in trying to create a political superstate. “Anyone who allows himself to stoop to such polemics shows that they are running out of proper arguments”, said Jürgen Hardt, the foreign affairs spokesman for Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats. “If we look at the cultural life and the way business is done on the continent, it is clear that Europe has never been more British than it is now. We want things to remain that way – with Britain inside the EU,” Hardt said. Johnson’s remark that the EU was an attempt to recreate Hitler’s and Napoleon’s aims of unifying Europe “by different methods” was widely reported in German media on Monday. In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, Johnson, seen as the de facto leader of the leave campaign, said the past 2,000 years of European history had been dominated … [Read more...] about German politicians criticise Boris Johnson for EU-Hitler comments
Britain’s relationship with Europe is low down on the list of concerns for most voters in the coming election, but the subject of the “Brexit” – Britain’s secession from the European Union – will come to dominate our political lives should the Conservatives find themselves in some kind of power after 7 May. David Cameron has promised a 2017 referendum on our place in the EU, a referendum our survey suggests is favoured by the majority of the population. The result of any plebiscite looks less certain, with those wishing to leave Europe just outnumbering those likely to vote for the status quo, but there are still many undecided. The arguments on either side are clear. If you’re a Eurosceptic, the impositions of European Union bureaucracy are daily infuriations, with Britain supposedly ceding control to Brussels of immigration policy, of its legal system, of its famously curved cucumbers. Britain contributes a small fortune to the European Union … [Read more...] about What would happen if Britain left the EU?
What is happiness?1 How do you create it in your own life?2 And why are the Danish people so much happier than the rest of us?3 Should we live like them?4 advertisement advertisement This is the great, existential question that our hygge-obsessed Western culture has been asking itself for roughly half a decade now. And Ikea Denmark has decided to weigh in in a six-part miniseries called Home of Happiness. Starring two everyday people seeking happiness for themselves—a young woman named Yaya Ching from Hong Kong and Chicagoan Roy Torres—the pair of strangers actually won a contest to live (awkwardly!) together in an Ikea-gasm apartment in Copenhagen while interviewing different Danes about what makes them so happy. It’s about 40 minutes of miniseries full of big wine glasses, big bike baskets, big pastries, and big, blond toddlers. You can watch it right on YouTube! I tried. I really did. I drew a bath, pulled up the series on my phone, and … [Read more...] about Ikea reveals the secret to happiness, and it’s not furniture