issue 198 - August 1989
Holes in the Ozone map
CFCs - the gases used in aerosols, refrigerators and air conditioners - are breaking down the ozone layer that protects the globe. The biggest ozone hole looks to be opening up from the Antarctic; bad news for people in Australia, Aotearoa, Argentina and Chile.
Cuba has one of the strictest AIDS policies in the world. Widespread testing and quarantine are used to keep the virus under control. Testing which is mandatory for blood donors, pregnant women, prostitutes, homosexuals, certain foreigners and soldiers and development workers returning from Africa - has revealed 250 people with AIDS antibodies and 39 with AIDS. Drug users are not tested because they officially do not exist on the island. Cuba reports six AIDS-related deaths so far.
Those who have AIDS are housed at Los Cocos, an old plantation 20 miles from Havana, which has been transformed into a modern sanitarium. Patients can leave to visit their families who are supported by the Government. Many can continue working.
The approach appears effective. Cuba is the only country where the number of people infected with AIDS is reported to be shrinking. The US on the other hand estimates that up to 1.5 million Americans will be infected by the end of 1989.
From World Press Review, Volume 36 No 1989, quoting Der Spiegel
'Police in the (British) West Midlands are to "go green" in a major move towards helping protect the environment, reports the Wolverhampton Express & Star. 'The force is looking to buy lead-free bullets to protect firearms officers from pollution.'
Quoted in New Statesman & Society, April 21 1989
PM for Japan
In the not-too distant future, Japan might conceivably have a woman leader - and a socialist one to boot. Doi Takako has led the opposition Japan Socialist Party for the last two-and-a-half years without much hope of gaining power. But the resignation of Noboru Takeshita and the involvement of much of the ruling elite in a financial scandal is likely to offer the opposition parties their best-ever chance of victory at the next election. A government-in-waiting was proposed in March, with Doi at the head of a coalition. She has a popular image: she was voted best-dressed woman in 1986 and, the day after she became socialist leader, charmed breakfast TV viewers with a rousing rendition of My Way.
From Asiaweek, May 5 1989
An increasingly wealthy middle class unashamedly flaunting its money and spending it on cars, electronic goods and designer clothes; the unemployed and poor being left way behind in the darkness. That could describe most of our readers' countries in the late 1980s - but it also describes India.
Rajiv Gandhi's Government has been so keen to chase higher economic growth that it has shifted the emphasis of the economy from public sector provision to high-return private industries like consumer durables and electronics. The shift is not the only one to have benefited an increasingly status-conscious middle class: Government land around the perimeter of New Delhi and Bombay has been sold off at knock-down prices to people who are immediately besieged by estate agents offering three times the price.
The new high-spending consumers have meant a boom for luxury hotels and restaurants - and a surge in sales for trendy Western names like Wrangler. Benetton and Adidas. Meanwhile, as in the West, the poor can only look on as if from another world.
Information but not comment from Asiaweek May 12 1989
Fleeing from the land
Environmental refugees now form the largest class of refugees in the world. The number of displaced people fleeing from environmental degradation has now reached over 10 million.
The forced migration of people has primarily been the result of the deterioration of agricultural land - caused by unsustainable land methods. The gradual poisoning of the land by toxic wastes and the effects of environmental disasters, made worse by human activities, are also to blame.
However during the next century the major cause of the displacement of people will be global warming. The potential effect of human-induced changes in the climate is a rise in sea level. A one-metre rise in ocean's levels may result in the creation of 50 million environmental refugees.
From Development Forum, volume 7. Number 2, 1989
'... the limits of production are determined not by the number of hungry bellies but by the number of purses able to buy and to pay ... The moneyless bellies, the labour which cannot be utilised for profit and therefore cannot buy, is left to the death rate.'
Friedrich Engels in correspondence March 1865.