Seeds of Disaster

Seeds of Disaster

Seeds of Disaster

What the foreign papers are saying.
June 10 1998 3:30 AM

Seeds of Disaster

GET "INTERNATIONAL PAPERS" BY E-MAIL!

Advertisement

For Tuesday and Friday morning delivery of this column, plus "Today's Papers" (daily), "Pundit Central" (Monday morning), and "Summary Judgment" (Wednesday morning), click here.

The conservative Daily Telegraph of London published an op-ed article by Prince Charles Monday attacking the proposed introduction into Britain by multinational companies of genetically engineered crops. His article follows the launch of a British advertising campaign by Monsanto, the U.S.-based biotechnology company, arguing that such crops will help consumers and the environment. The prince said he will not eat food made from such produce; nor will he give it to his family or friends: Genetic engineering "takes mankind into realms that belong to God and to God alone."

The Telegraph also ran an editorial warning the British government against sending ground forces into action against the Serbs in Kosovo, saying it should consider air power instead. "If Slobodan Milosevic still refuses to cede meaningful autonomy to Kosovo, that power should be used to inflict heavy destruction on the Serb military machine," it said.

An editorial in Japan's popular Asahi Shimbun called on President Clinton to "clear up doubts" on his land mine policy. The provocation: a statement by National Security Adviser Samuel Berger, in a letter to Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, to the effect that the United States intends to sign the international treaty banning land mines by 2006. "It is significant that the United States, one of the largest producers of mines, has shown--if belatedly--a willingness to join a comprehensive framework for eliminating land mines," said the paper, wondering why such a major policy shift should have been "made public in such an unusual form." It asked the U.S. president to "show a more specific course of action leading to an early signing." Considering that an estimated 100 million anti-personnel land mines are deposited around the world and people are being "killed or injured at a rate of one person every 20 minutes," it said, "the world cannot wait until 2006."

The Times of India ran an editorial, headlined "Mission Fusion," Monday about Albert Einstein's recently revealed, post-World War II love affair with Russian spy Margarita Konenkova. Referring to affairs she reputedly had with other famous men, the newspaper said, "Apparently, the lady who came from Russia with love was a firm believer in relativity in her relationships." Einstein "must have pined when the affair ended and Konenkova returned to her masters, her mission over. The parallel lines did not meet, a unified field could not be found."

In South Africa, the Cape Times warned that "millions of South Africans could find themselves effectively disenfranchised barely five years after the country became a democracy" if the government continues insisting that all citizens possess a new identity document if they are to register as voters in next year's general election. Meanwhile, Johannesburg's Saturday Star mocked the South African minister of sport's promise to "intervene decisively" to democratize sport and put an end to its being "a predominantly white affair in a predominantly black country." What about women, the paper asked in an editorial. What about the disabled? "They, too, should be allowed to play in the national rugby team. One is not referring here to the mentally disabled, who are already well represented. ... One is talking about the physically disabled. They, too, have rights." There is also the question of "the Third Sex," the paper went on. "It is disgraceful that we do not know whether gays and lesbians are represented in statistically correct proportions on the sportsfield."

In Hong Kong, the South China Morning Post, taking up the cry of several Australian papers, attacked Australian Prime Minister John Howard for failing to marginalize the resurgent, racist One Nation party, whose leader, Pauline Hanson, rejects Aboriginal rights and warns that Australia is being "swamped" by Asians. "A return to institutionalised [immigration] restraints and bigotry is an ever-present danger, despite One Nation's minority support, because the larger established parties see Ms. Hanson grabbing a chunk of their own vote," SCMP said. It is vital that the prime minister "hit back and distance his party from her divisive and hate-mongering politics."

Reporting on crime in Chechnya, Russia's biggest-selling newspaper, Komsomolskaya Pravda, said that at the central market in Grozny, handguns, machine guns, and grenade launchers are openly on sale. But pork or liquor, to which the Shariat (Muslim religious law) police objects, are not. The authorities are also waging war on drugs and sex, the paper said, and owners of "love houses" sometimes hire a mullah to sit at the entrance to pronounce every entering couple "man and wife" so as not to infringe Shariat law.