issue 216 - February 1991
Irradiated mutant turtles
Fears that mutant turtles will soon become a reality are being expressed by environmental groups after plans to dump nuclear waste off the coast of Nicaragua were revealed. For its beaches are one of the few breeding grounds in the world for six species of turtles. The turtle has become a symbol of the Environmental Movement of Nicaragua since their campaign to protect the breeding grounds began. Now there are plans for a nuclear power plant in the area.
US company, Phillips SA, whose Central American representative is a personal friend of the new Nicaraguan president, Violeta Chamorro, has offered to build this nuclear power station free. The only condition is it runs on nuclear waste imported from the US.
From press release, Environmental Network for Nicaragua, 23 Bevenden Street, London NJ 6BH.
A year's supply
How many condoms does an able-bodied Soviet man need in a year? Exactly 12 according to a 'men's minimal consumer budget' calculated last year by Soviet planners and summarized in the new Shatalin plan for a market economy. Yearly supplies of other items include 2.5 kilos of soap, one toothbrush, two bottles of cologne and five pairs of cotton socks. The report in Komsomolskaya Pravda comments on the Shatalin pro gramme that the 'per capita calculations' are now out in the open. 'We think that the previous secrecy was because not a single "capita" would be likely to swell up in gratitude for such strictly calculated concern.
From World Press Review, Vol 37, No 11 1990.
Women and AIDS
AIDS is now the leading cause of death for women aged 20-40 in major cities in the Americas, Western Europe and sub-Saharan Africa. Globally, the World Health Organization estimates over eight million adults are now infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and more than a third - three million - are women. By the year 2000 the annual number of female AIDS cases will equal the number of male.
A new report on how HIV/AIDS affects women, Triple Jeopardy: Women and AIDS looks at how women are threatened in three ways: as individuals being infected through sexual activity, as the traditional carers of those invalided by AIDS and as mothers of those who have the disease.
Women with little social or economic power face particular risk of HIV infection. In the Third World, the lack of condoms and ignorance about safer sexual options increase the risks. Traditional constraints on sexual behaviour and poverty often mean women are at risk even if they are well informed. A sex worker whose client refuses to use a condom has two options: possible HIV infection or not making a living that day.
From Triple Jeopardy: Women and AIDS, by Judith Mariasy, published by The Panos Institute, 9 White Lion Street, London NJ 9PD, UK.
The UN is starting a programme to educate Cambodian refugees in the camps on Thailand's border about mines. The project is aimed at teaching the refugees how to identify land mines and booby traps when they eventually return to their country. They will also learn safety procedures to follow when the mines have been discovered. Many of the 300,000 refugees living under UN care in the six camps along the border were maimed by mines as they moved (or were forced to move, by Khmer Rouge soldiers) to the camps in Thailand.
From Far Eastern Economic Review, 1.11.90
Lighthouse white elephant
The shenanigans over the 1992 celebrations of the 'discovery' of the Americas (sighted by Columbus 500 years ago) are already well under way. Perhaps the saddest and biggest of white elephants is in the Dominican Republic. Here the 83-year old president, Joaquin Balaguer, has authorized the building of a $10 million lighthouse as the largest Columbian monument in the world. Destined to be inaugurated in 1992, the light-house is planned to project a beam visible all over the Caribbean. Dominicans joke however, that the most dramatic effect when the lighthouse is switched on will be the final collapse of the creaking electrical system in Santo Domingo, their capital city.
From NACLA Report on the Americas, Vol XXIV, No 3.
With the opening of a new, larger Zurich main railway station, a new waste-management system was introduced as well. Waste from more than 1,000 trains a day plus the refuse from railway offices, two dozen shops and four restaurants fill four 800-litre containers every day. Separate containers are provided for recycling paper, glass, aluminium and other metals and compost. Waste from trains is sorted by railway workers, while the shops and restaurants sort their own. Packaging material is reduced to pulp on-site. The remainder goes to the incinerator, as before. While the disposal costs in the incinerator are $75 a tonne, recycled waste is collected free of charge. Only 3.6 tonnes of waste a month now goes to the incinerator, instead of the previous 10 tonnes.
From Warmer Bulletin, No 27, 1990
Well, well, well
Satellite images have led to a spectacular discovery of water beneath Egypt's Western Desert. There is speculation that it may contain more ground water than was thought to exist in the whole of Africa. A test drilling has indicated enough water for farming 200,000 acres for the next 200 years.
The discovery is of great significance in a country where almost all the farming is in the Nile Valley, occupying only five per cent of Egypt's land surface. Alternative water sources are particularly important as most of the Nile's waters come from drought-prone Ethiopia and water-levels at the Aswan Dam have dropped dramatically.
From Panoscope, November 1990
'The Queen's green credentials will be enhanced by the disclosure
that she spends more on the purchases and upkeep of horses and carriages
(£165,000/$310,000) than on cars (£73,000/ $140,000).'
From The UK's Daily Telegraph