issue 188 - October 1988
Population: 4.9 million
Literacy rate: 60%
Under- and Unemployment: 50%
US Aid (1987): $608 million
Annual Budget (excluding US Aid): $582 million
Ratio of US military aid to development and reform aid: three to one
US war-related aid per rebel: $45,000
Change in per capita income since civil war began 1980: minus 38%
Percentage of population displaced by war: 33%
Salvadoreans killed by military and death squads: 60,000
From Multinational Monitor, Vol. 9 No 5, 1988 quoting Bankrolling Failure
Canadian kids hack away
Bank robbers get away with peanuts compared with the sums computer thieves steal. While the conventional bank robbery nets about $6,600, the average haul from a computer crime is about $220,000. In the US, these crimes cause annual losses of billions of dollars, more than a third of it stolen by bank employees. In 1985, British businesses lost $700 million to computer crimes.
Perpetrators of computer crimes are seldom caught. US studies have shown that only 15 per cent of such crimes are detected, and of these, a third are discovered too late to be successfully investigated. In turn, only five per cent of crimes are made public and only three per cent prosecuted. Ultimately only one per cent of such cases brings a conviction.
On occasions security barriers are breached by audacious computer fanatics - the hackers. Equipped with a personal computer, a modem and active imaginations they break into the systems of companies, banks or government institutions. Hackers access confidential information and alter it, remove it or destroy it. In Canada four 13-year-olds got into Pepsi-Cola's central computer and altered the delivery program to obtain ten free cases of Pepsi.
French hackers in March 1986 broke into a Cray-One supercomputer at the Ecole Polytechnique in Palaiseau, one of the country's most powerful computers containing high-security strategic information. It is used by the National Center for Scientific Research, the Center for Aeronautics Research and the French armed forces.
Perhaps the arguments for decentralization, labour-intensive technologies and small-is-beautiful might soon sound more plausible in the halls of power.
Information but not comment from Cambia 16 of Madrid, reported in World Press Review, Vol. 35/No.6 1988
What's in a name?
How you name your children is strictly controlled by law in Argentina, where certain names are prohibited and parents must choose from government-approved lists. Forbidden are 'names that are bizarre, ridiculous, contrary to our customs, indicative of political or ideological tendencies, or that raise doubt about the sex of the person named.' In Buenos Aires 1,404 names are permitted; 2,541 are illegal.
From The Columbia Dispatch, 26 February. 1988
Arsenic and old waste
More and more stories of the dumping of poisonous waste by the affluent industrialized world in the deprived nations of the South are coming to light. After the plan to create a reef of US garbage off Saba in the Dutch Antilles, mentioned in last month's NI Updates, Guyana has a different twist to the same idea. The Government plan is to generate electricity by burning industrial waste imported from the US. The Guyana Resource Corporation, a joint venture between the Government and two California-based companies, Texeira Farms and Potts Industries, plans to open up the region's first industrial waste incinerator later this year. Up to 20 million litres of imported industrial solvents and lubricating oils may be burned annually to fire the electricity generating plant.
It has been officially denied that the scheme will threaten the environment. Yet according to a spokesperson for the Working Peoples Alliance opposition group, 'The only reason why a US company would move waste over a thousand miles from its own borders with all the expense involved is because that waste could not have been disposed of at home.' A Greenpeace commentator added that there is no doubt that toxic emissions will be produced by the plant. And an independent pollution engineer concluded that the emissions of lead, arsenic and other metals will be of 'significant and immediate concern'.
From South, No. 90, l988
You cannot go on producing milk lakes or beef mountains indefinitely without wallowing in the other fruits of animal productivity. The latest EEC headache is the manure mountain. Farmers in parts of Europe are now producing far more than they can get rid of. It contaminates the air, fouls rivers, canals and seas and is even ruining the land. For with all the chemicals in the cattle fodder, the quality of the manure has gone down. Traces of heavy metals in the soil have increased; and with so much nitrogen turning to ammonia, the natural acidity of the soil is being upset.
The Dutch Ministry of Agriculture has tried to solve the problem by obliging farmers to keep accounts of all the manure produced on their farms with a view to imposing production quotas. But some fierce demonstrations in front of the Ministry including the burning of such account books, has dissuaded them from this idea.
From The Food Magazine, Issue 2. Vol. 1. 1988
After 18 months of research and testing, the Colgate-Palmolive Company is yet to change the racist logo of its Darkie (sic) brand of toothpaste. Continued pressure by the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility, a non-profit New York-based coalition of over 240 church groups has made Colgate change the name from 'Darkie' to 'Dakkie' in some countries. Nevertheless the offensive Sambo figure with bulging eyes and a mouth full of pearly choppers, reminiscent of Hollywood's portrayal of blacks in the 1930s, still remains.
Surprise, surprise, Colgate is launching a new toothpaste in Japan where Darkie has never been sold. Called 'Mouth Jazz', it bears the familiar logo of the top hatted figure found elsewhere in South East Asia.
Just in case consumers don't get the point, whilst the name may change to Dakkie in English, the Mandarin translation of the name on the packet stays the same: 'Black man's (sic) toothpaste'.
From Consumer Currents, No. 108, 1988