issue 187 - September 1988
Inflation in the South
Average consumer prices in the South rose by about 40 per cent last year, compared with just under 30 per cent in 1986, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Prices increased most in Latin America, where inflation reached nearly 120 per cent - higher than last year's 80 per cent but better than 1985's 160 per cent.
In Asia inflation inched up to 7 per cent last year from just over 5 per cent in 1986. For Africa and the Middle East figures are not yet available for the whole of 1987 but inflation looks to be about 20 per cent in Africa and 14 per cent in the Middle East
From South magazine, No. 93, 1988
Tightening an iron grip
Lee Kuan Yew, the authoritarian Prime Minister of Singapore, is now tightening his grip on the urinating habits of Singapore's men. The Straits Times reported in June this year that a man had been fined $75 for urinating in a lift. He was lucky, for since the offence the fine has been raised to $700. The Court heard how the accused had been arrested in a lift which jammed. The man trapped himself: his action causing the lift's 'urine sensor to activate the jamming mechanism.' The video tape recording from a secret camera captured the event and identity of the culprit.
Of equal concern for public health and safety, six men were booked that same day by under-cover environmental health agents for not flushing urinals. 'Failure to flush the urinal after use,' observed The Straits Times, 'is considered a public nuisance under the Penal Code, Chapter 224. The penalty... a fine of up to $100. The officers took turns going into the toilet and while washing their hands or pretending to use the urinal, kept an eye out for litter-bugs, vandals and other abusers'.
The feature article reporting such heinous offences? 'Environmental Health Officers: The Unsung Heroes of a Dirty Job.'
From Far Eastern Economic Review, 7.7.88
Meaning in the eye of the beholder
The book Baby Names by Vimla Patel, published in New Delhi, lists Indian personal names for expectant parents requiring some guidance and inspiration on names for their forthcoming offspring. However Indian feminists have picked up an interesting double standard by the author. The name 'Subrata' for a boy is said to mean 'devoted to what is right'. However the same name for a girl it appears, means 'devoted to your husband'.
From Manushi, No. 46, 1988
Using Africa as a tip
The waste from affluence and superconsumption is increasingly difficult to get rid of. Sadly the marketplace logic of contemporary global affluence and poverty is to match the needs of waste disposal from the wealthy nations with the need for foreign exchange by the poorest continent in the world. And so, according to one Environmental Protection Agency official in Washington D.C., there have been more proposals to ship hazardous wastes from the US to Africa in the past few months than in the previous four years. However the only confirmed shipment of toxic waste in 1988 is of 15,000 tons of toxic ash from Philadelphia to Kassa Island, Guinea. The Government of Guinea is trying to force the re-export of the waste.
Other schemes to ship waste include:
Two loads of radioactive nuclear waste from France dumped in Benin, in exchange for economic aid.
Intercontrat S.A. may have managed at least five shipments of toxic wastes from Italy to Koko, Nigeria between March 1987 and March 1988, according to Greenpeace' s Italian office.
A major proposal may bring up to five million tons of industrial waste a year to Benin. Under a contract dated January 12, 1988, Sesco Ltd will deliver up to this quantity from Europe and North America, and pay Benin $2.50 per ton delivered.
Equatorial Guinea has given a ten-year license to a British firm to dispose of two million drums of chemical wastes on Anubon Island in exchange for $1.6 million
The President of Gabon reportedly met with the directors of Denison Mining of Colorado in 1987 and agreed to import uranium tailing wastes into his country.
From International Trade in Toxic Wastes: Policy and Data Analysis by Greenpeace. June 1988
What's in soft ice cream?
The British are renowned for the adulteration of their food, nowhere more so than in what they give their children. Soft ice cream is a prime example. It will account for £40 million ($70 million) to the ice cream trade over the summer season this year, most of it consumed by kids. What are they getting?
Soft ice cream is made by reconstituting a commercial powder with water. Ice cream powder is made from concentrated skimmed milk to which fat, emulsifiers and stabilisers are added. The concentrate is then homogenised, pasteurised and spray-dried before dry blending with ground sugar. The resulting powder is about 40 per cent sugar, 30 per cent fat, 25 per cent non-fat milk solids and 2 per cent emulsifiers and stabilisers. The powder is mixed with two parts of water before going into the dispensing machine. Urggh.
From The Food Magazine, Issue 2, Vol. 1,1988
Glucose syrup, water, citric acid (E330), synthetic flavouring, artificial sweetener sodium saccharin, preservative sodium benzoate (E211), colour carmoisine (E122).
50 per cent air, 33 per cent water, remaining ingredients: skimmed milk. hydrogenated vegetable fat, sugar, emulsifier fatty acid glycerides (E471), stabilisers sodium carboxymethyl cellulose (E466), locust bean gum (E410), tragacanth gum (E412), carrageenan (E407),sodium alginate (E401), synthetic flavouring vanillin, sodium citrate (E331).
Flour, margarine, sodium bicarbonate, artificial sweetener sodium saccharin, colour sunset yellow (E110) or annatto (E160b) and turmeric(E100).
'What I sometimes feel like doing, is enclosing a little packet of waste material with every one
of the products we sell, just to remind people, that they can't have one without the other.'
Chemical company waste disposal officer, quoted in the Listener, 21 April 1982
'Africa has also been hard hit by changes in world commodity prices.
In 1972 it took 38 tonnes of Tanzanian sisal to buy a seven tonne truck,
by 1982 it took 134 tonnes. The fall in the real value of copper from
Zambian mines has been 60 per cent over the last ten years.'
Rt Hon David Owen MP in the foreword to 'Famine, a man made disaster?', Pan 1985