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How Fast Is Progress in South Africa?

The article ``'Emigr'es in Australia Ponder Returning Home to S. Africa,'' Dec. 21, quotes Neil Cochrane, a South African in Australia who says it is difficult for him to remain in Australia when so much good is happening in South Africa. Is Mr. Cochrane aware the South African government has still to remove the obstacles to a genuine solution of the South African problem? Does he know that in South Africa today more than 1,000 political prisoners and detainees are still behind bars? More than 90 percent of the exiled South Africans are still outside the country because of the fear of political persecution.

Security and repressive legislation (particularly the pillar of apartheid, the Group Areas Act) are still intact in apartheid South Africa. To rub more salt into the wounds of the bleeding African people of South Africa, there are still ongoing political trials in that country.

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Only the myopic and those on the payroll of the South African National Intelligence Service can believe that ``so much good is happening in South Africa.''

Ben Oupa Lekalake, Oakland, Calif.

Confusion over animal rights The article, ``Guidance for Do-It-Yourself Earth-Keepers,'' Dec. 20, makes the common mistake of confusing animal-rights activists with environmentalists. The article equates a book that advocates giving up cosmetics and furs with some type of positive environmental action. The author of the book is the founder of an animal-rights organization that routinely opposes the application of proven techniques of biological science to solve environmental problems. In fact, through an inflexible moralistic approach to environmental issues, animal-rightists have contributed to environmental degradation by taking positions that place their personal philosophy of the rights of individual animals ahead of environmental preservation and the survival of whole species.

In a world awash in environmental difficulties, journalists might use their abilities to see through those who run their flag up the trendy pole of environmentalism in an effort to profit at the expense of what may be the most important issue of our time.

Mark Bellows, Falls Church, Va.

Benefits of fuel additives News Currents, Dec. 20, reports that auto- and oil-industry researchers say tests show that alcohol fuel additives ``greatly reduce carbon monoxide and smog-forming emissions.''

Do these new additives include one reported in the October Environmental Defense Letter which contains manganese? This new additive is being offered by the Ethyl Corporation, which in 1925 introduced tetraethyl lead, another gasoline additive, by calling it ``a gift of God.'' The parallels between the current proposal and that in 1925 are disturbing. Each additive was touted for its supposed reduction of auto emissions. But there were no data given on the potential health effects or the impact of massive amounts of a toxic metal on the environment.

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Whether or not the additives mentioned in News Currents contain manganese, it is wise to be skeptical about a product that has not been thoroughly tested by a competent independent organization. It may be that the oil and auto industries are more interested in promoting a product for profit than in protecting the environment.

Darrel Abel, Waldoboro, Maine

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