The City Diary

If you can survive being mauled by the press, why worry about diseases?
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Sir Bill Callaghan, the head of the Health and Safety Commission, is moving on. Callaghan has had to train himself to have a sense of humour about press attacks on the commission (he keeps prejudicial cuttings on the wall of his office and smiles grimly at mentions of the phrase "nanny state"), but now he should be safe.

He is off early next month to lead the review of the "regulatory framework for animal pathogens, which will also address the position of Defra [the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) as regulator, licensor and inspector of SAPO 4 regulation".

All jokes about pathogenic research should be addressed to Sir Bill.

Google sparks air rage

Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have outraged Californian conservationist neighbours with a $1.3m-a-year deal to park their wide-body Boeing 767-200 private jet on Moffet Field, a NASA airport generally closed to private aircraft. Moffet Field is only a seven-minute drive from Google's HQ and local pressure group the Pacific Studies Center vehemently opposes the use of Moffet Field for civilian flights and has voiced fears that the Google deal may pave the way for other Silicon Valley executives. So much for Google's cool and environmentally friendly reputation.

Why we'll soon live to see a blue moon

Forward thinking at Goldman Sachs. The head of economic research, Jim O'Neill, has reacted interestingly to scientific speculation that in the next 20 years the ability to prolong human life for up to 200 years will be a realistic possibility. O'Neill, an avid supporter of Manchester United, was reportedly unsure that this was such a wonderful prospect, arguing that Manchester City might even win something in that time...

Rivals line up to have a laugh at the Lynch mob

The Pacific island that's become a web hotspot

Are Bankers at Merrill Lynch starting to worry about whether their client, Royal Bank of Scotland, will be able to complete its ¿70bn takeover of ABN Amro? With the debt markets in such a perilous state, some of Merrill's rivals are having a quiet chortle. "Merrill Lynch's reputation is riding on getting this deal done," says our man in the corner office. "Wouldn't it be terrible if it didn't happen?" The other unfounded rumour was that RBS was planning a rights issue on Thursday to help fund its takeover of ABN, before Northern Rock ruined the party.

iPods are not precious

Techies at Apple are regularly sent from their groovy California HQ to China to spend an intense two-week shift at the city-sized FoxConn factory in Shenzhen, where iPods are made and tested, according to a report last week. Internally at Apple, this is apparently known as "being sent to Mordor". We give them one ring to find out if it's true, but get no answer.

Grin and Bear it

Happy in your work? Not at Bear Stearns. According to a new survey, employees at the bank are less satisfied by their jobs than their counterparts at every other bank in the City. Only a quarter of the Bear boys and girls were "satisfied". The happiest chaps in the Square Mile can be found at Goldman Sachs; nothing to do with the bonuses of course.

The Pacific island that's become a web hotspot

Many have tried to make money from the internet and most have failed. But the economy of the Pacific island of Tokelau (pop. 1,500) is doing rather well thanks to the efforts of a Dutch entrepreneur who is selling the .TK domain suffix, which belongs to the small atoll nation. The deal has allowed Tokelau to add 10 per cent to its GDP as well as gain personal computers and internet access for residents. Previously, islanders on Tokelau had to travel two days by boat to communicate with their nearest neighbours, but now enjoy free internet access.

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