New Internationalist

Briefly…

Issue 199

new internationalist
issue 199 - September 1989

BRIEFLY...

DICTATORSHIPS
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Blair Seitz / CAMERA PRESS

A serenade to Marcos
Imelda Marcos would quite often break into song for startled visiting State dignitaries or reporters when she was First Lady of the Philippines. Now she does it for her man. No matter that Ferdinand is hooked up to a life-support system and is critically ill.

Just released is the album, Imelda Papin. Featuring Songs with Mrs Imelda Romualdez Marcos, in Honolulu, Hawaii, where the Marcoses are in exile. Mrs Marcos was exultant at her debut. 'This is all so new to me, but it's nice to be recognized for something positive. something beautiful like music.' The album features a collection of her husband's favourite love songs, including Feelings.

When Ferdinand, in hospital in Honolulu since January, heard the album, Imelda says his eyes opened, he gave me a smile and he even blew me a kiss.'

From Asiaweek, Vol. 15 No. 26, 1989

GRASSROOTS

Yuppie activism
Too busy to demonstrate? Want to change the world but can't squeeze in the time for your socially-concerned activism? Relax. Activism in the US has now been pre-packaged for the gadfly-on-the-go. The organization concerned is called 20/20 Vision, costs $20 a month to join and works like this. Each month 20/20 Vision core groups in 32 congressional districts send out postcards outlining what subscribers can do in 20 minutes to help stop the nuclear arms race. Usually it means writing to a politician about some pending legislation. The founders hope to 'franchise' the idea to every congressional district. They have been besieged with other causes who want in to the same servtce.

'Eventually,' comments one of the organizers of 20/20 Vision, 'I expect that people can spend 20 minutes on the environment and another 20 minutes on maybe the housing crisis or world hunger or something else.'

From Mother Jones, Vol. 14 No. 3, 1989

ANIMAL RIGHTS

Frogs' legs trade
The trade in frogs' legs from the Third World looks set to increase. The frogs are caught in the wild and their hind 'hopping' legs severed. The animals can live for another hour or more before dying. Protests are not just on humanitarian grounds but economic. For the frogs are an effective, free and environmentally friendly pesticide, eating lots of the bugs which would otherwise have to be dowsed in chemicals.

Last year Bangladesh temporarily imposed a ban on the trade, but due to the desperate need for hard currency in this country with so few exports, the ban has been lifted. India too prohibited the trade from April 1987. But now lobby groups within the country are working hard to lift the ban there as well, looking to discredit the strong evidence that the frogs' presence limits insect damage to the rice crop.

Brazil is now experimenting with breeding frogs, to take advantage of the gap in the market caused by the Indian prohibition, while Indonesians are still catching frogs from the wild for export.

The major importer of frogs' legs is the European Community.

From Agscene, No. 95. 1989

DEBT

From the horse's mouth
Greed drove banks to keep lending money to shaky Third World countries, creating a massive debt crisis, says one of Canada's leading bankers. Donald Fullerton, chairman of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, went on: 'Bankers were jumping on planes to fly off to countries they had never heard of, their briefcases bulging with innovative financing proposals. The banks went on a binge, loading up on emerging countries debt until their balance sheets became bloated beyond recognition.' The tough talking concluded: 'The spectre of greed, masked in its popular guise, competitiveness, may have the power to override all the high-minded words and good intentions of the organization's directors and managers.

From the Toronto Star. April 26,1989

ABORIGINES

Left hanging
Western Australia is a dangerous place for Aborigines to be imprisoned. Almost 30 per cent of the 105 known Aboriginal cell deaths since 1980 have occurred in that State. The Royal Commission investigating this has found that inquests have never been held into some of the black deaths, and disturbingly, there are always long delays in the coronial inquest system. The inquests do not start until police reports have been made, which can be six months later.

The State's senior coroner has spoken out, claiming police are far too ready to dismiss all black cell deaths as suicide. He went on that some police records were 'a travesty of accurate and truthful reporting.' One astonishing example of police behaviour cited is at Geraldton cells. No attempt was made to resuscitate an Aboriginal prisoner, Charles Cameron. He was found hanging, police testified, by his shoelace from a cell bar. 'The body of the deceased was left hanging until the arrival of a doctor. The reason for this was given as a need to preserve the scene of the death to enable a thorough investigation to be made ...' It is clear that the police didn't think they should try and save Cameron's life by cutting him down to revive him.

The courageous coroner, David McCann, has a history of outspokeness. He had committed five of the State's police to trial for manslaughter after the death of 16-year-old John Pat in 1983. All five, incidentally, were subsequently acquitted by an all-white jury.

From Ausrralian Society, May 1989

ENVIRONMENT

Thailand's forests
In January this year the Thai Government announced a ban on all logging. The decision to scrap 301 existing logging concessions followed disastrous flooding, brought about by deforestation. In November 1988, 14 provinces of South Thailand were devastated. Mountains of logs, undergrowth and mud swept down on hillside villages leaving more than 430 dead, 300 missing and 70,000 injured.

The race for profits by the logging companies has stripped the forest cover of the country. In the 1940s more than 70 per cent of the country was forested. By 1985 the figure was down to 29 per cent and that was suspected to be a gross overestimate from the Royal Forest Department. About half this area is meant to be protected forests - national parks and wildlife sanctuaries - but the protection is seldom enforced. And after the strip logging the land is left as scrub grassland or used for arabic farming.

The public outcry following the November floods has at last jolted the Government into action.

From Asian-Pacific Environment, Vol. 5 No.4,1989

NATIONALISM

Burmese name-dropping
The Burmese, it seems, have always called their country Myanma. But outsiders know it as Burma - a name derived from the dominant Burman race.

Faced with unrest and revolt for the last ten years by several non-Burman minority groups, the military regime in Rangoon has decided to de-emphasize Burma and kindle national solidarity with Myanma. And Rangoon, by the way, will be pronounced and spelt Yangon.

From Time, Vol. 133 No. 24, 1989

' I did not join Europe to have free movement of terrorists, criminals,
drugs, plant and animal diseases like rabies, and illegal immigrants.'

Margaret Thatcher, quoted in Daily Mail, 18 May, 1989, on the 1992
measures for the closer integration of the European Community.

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