Another non-environmental wonder

Understanding the scale of Serco, the private government contractor running prisons, hospitals, and even nuclear facilities across the UK, is no small challenge. Here's two clues to help convey just how giant it is (via the Guardian):

  •  "Without Serco, Britain would struggle to go to war" says the Daily Telegraph
  • A prime example of the level of information Serco is willing to release publicly about its operations in the UK, bringing new meaning to the term "opaque": "We operate in a range of markets and geographies, which means we are well placed to bring a wide range of experiences and knowledge to help customers with the challenges that they face."
But nothing tops the explanation of CEO Chris Hyman as to why the company is so invisible:

"We are delighted when the public knows who we are, but really, we need to be known by the people who make decisions."


Another non-environmental wonder

John Oliver (standing in for Jon Stewart on The Daily Show) on the absurdly repetitive efforts of Jay Carney, the White House Press Secretary, to avoid calling the situation in Egypt a "coup" (his only talking point: "I'm going to be blunt here, it's a highly complicated situation."):

"I don't know if Jay Carney is doing a bad job, or just has a really bad job."


Something that's actually good

Since the media seems to have missed it entirely, here's welcome proof that at least one person in the convoluted land of intergovernmental policy is taking on the challenge of playing provocateur to the food industry. Thanks Director General of the WHO, Dr. Margaret Chan (via UN):

"Instead of diseases vanishing as living conditions improve, socioeconomic progress is actually creating the conditions that favour the rise of non-communicable diseases...It is not just Big Tobacco anymore. Public health must also contend with Big Food, Big Soda, and Big Alcohol."


Gem of the day

BP's strange campaign to combat alleged fraud in the payouts from its $20 billion Deepwater Horizon recovery fund, ironic in more ways than one, took another twist yesterday. In a move that the WSJ correctly identified as a marked - and inevitable - shift from the company's PR-led apologetic tone in the aftermath of the Gulf spill, BP is aggressively reaching out to the mass public for help by setting up an anonymous fraud "hotline".

The company's official statement on Tuesday promoted the hotline as a resource "for people who want to do the right thing". So in that case here's someone who should probably call in: former CEO Tony Hayward. After all, when stepping down in July 2010 he assessed his role in the Deepwater Horizon disaster in exactly the following terms: "I became a villain for doing the right thing".

If he does speak up about the proportion of alleged fraud in the fund, BP had better hope Hayward's recommendation isn't based on his early approach to talking about the environmental impact of Deepwater Horizon:

"I think the environmental impact of this disaster is likely to be very, very modest...Gulf of Mexico is a big ocean."


Gem of the day

Oil majors like BP might be in denial about oil running out, but they sure are quick to notice when money is running out - especially money linked to legal obligations from a spill.

In editorial adverts last month BP issued concerns over potentially illegitimate claims being paid out from its dedicated $20 billion Gulf of Mexico reparation fund. Verbatim:

"Trial lawyers and some politicians are attempting to capitalise on this misinterpretation by encouraging the submission of thousands of claims for inflated losses, or losses that do not even exist...Whatever you think about BP, we can all agree that it's wrong for anyone to take money they don't deserve."

It sure is. Which makes BP's own history of poorly managed anti-corruption policies so much more ironic, from over 365 breaches of conduct in its Russian TNK venture, to years of bribery exposed in its shipping division.

And it's not worth getting started on BP's own role in promoting things that "do not even exist" - artificial reserves, anyone?