issue 221 - July 1991
Did President Corazon Aquino hide under her Malacanang Palace bed during the August 1987 coup attempt? She says she didn't. And to prove it, she took the unprecedented step of going to court on 11 February against Philippine Star columnist Luis Beltran. For he wrote that this was her hiding place. To back up her denial, Cory Aquino explained to a packed courtroom that there is not enough room beneath her boudoir's box-like bed to slip under.
'This particular statement gives the impression that the commander-in-chief of the armed forces is a coward,' she told the court in two-and-a-half hours of testimony which was carried live on television and radio.
'I was very angry because this was a blatant lie and I want the court to know.' Beltran could face imprisonment if found guilty of libelling the President.
Other Philippines commentators have been trying to help their colleague by pointing out that such hiding places are not so shameful. After all, they say, the British Prime Minister John Major and his cabinet ministers all dived under the cabinet table when the Irish Republican Army lobbed mortar shells at No 10 Downing Street.
Far Eastern Economic Review, Vol 1SJ, No8, 1991.
An antibiotic which is so powerful that within an hour it kills bacteria that cause food poisoning has been discovered in human milk. The new antibiotic, named 'lactofelicine' by the Japanese team that developed it, is a derivative of lactofeline, which makes up about 70 per cent of the protein in a mother's first milk. It is also effective against diarrhoea, which caused four million infant deaths in developing countries last year, but leaves beneficial bacteria unharmed.
This miraculous antibiotic of nature is absent from commercial infant formulas promoted so heavily in the West and the Third World.
New Scientist, No 1765, 1991.
Haefeli / Punch / London
Candy, not Dandy
At the sixty-fifth annual tribal parade and rodeo (1991) on the White Mountain Apache reservation in Arizona, corporate superheroes were throwing candy at kids. One man was dressed as Spuds MacKenzie, the party animal of Budweiser's TV ads, another as Superman. The candy they threw was packaged as perfect replicas of Budweiser beer cans.
Never mind that more than half of adult American Indians abuse alcohol and are four times as likely to die from it as other Americans. Or that fetal alcohol syndrome is a plague on many reservations. Or that up to 40 per cent of Native American Indian teenagers abuse alcohol or that 12 per cent of Indian children are drinking booze regularly by their ninth birthday.
Marketing strategists defend their freedom to advertise through these candy look alikes.
Mother Jones, Vol 16, No 3, 1991.
That is the number of cigarettes manufactured last year by British American Tobacco and other subsidiaries of the transnational conglomerate, BAT Industries plc. This amounts to a hundred BAT cigarettes for every person on the planet, from the new-born baby to those about to die; even so BAT claim no more than 10.3 per cent of the world market, from which they made a record trading profit of £966 million.
The company is looking forward to growth in their existing markets in the Far East and also to entering the hitherto closed markets of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. BAT's chairman, Sir Patrick Sheehy, says, 'These are the most exciting times I have seen in the tabacco industry in the last forty years.'
From British American Tobacco Annual Report, 1991.
Object lessons, anyone?
The punishing response to Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait was a demonstration to North Korea's Kim Il Sung of what an attack on South Korea would bring, says General.
RisCassi commander of the 43,000 strong US forces in South Korea. RisCassi remarked that the swiftness with which the US reacted in the Middle East, the speed with which a multinational coalition was formed and the ability of the US and South Korea to conduct the large Team Spirit military exercise in South Korea during the Gulf war were object lessons for the Korean peninsula.
Far Eastern Economic Review, Vol. 151, No 18 1991.
German scientists are breeding artificial bacteria to degrade the plastic body of the notorious smoke-spewing Trabant, the East German car that carried thousands to West Germany in 1989. Now more and more of these cars are found being abandoned. Incinerating the wrecks would release toxic fumes. So the new microbes are reported to be used to reduce the plastic to about two per cent of its original weight. Here is biotechnology in action.
World Press Review, Vol 38, No 5, 1991.
The news from Monrovia after the end of several weeks of civil war in Liberia is grim. There is no public transport or postal service, no telephones or banks. Two thirds of the population is without safe drinking water. Food distributed by international aid groups is scarce. Even dogs, cats and zoo animals have been eaten. The Red Cross has estimated the number of people missing at one million and the count of homeless children at 6,000.
World Press Review, Vol 38, No 5, 1991.
'Unless the penguin and the poor evoke from us equal concern, conservation
will be a lost cause. There can be no common future without a better common present.
Development which Is not equitable is not sustainable in the long term.'
Dr. M.S. Swaminathan, outgoing President of World Conservation Union.