Bits of the World in Brief


Fifth Estate # 312, Spring 1983

Harrises Freed

Bill and Emily Harris, the Symbionese Liberation Army members who pleaded guilty to kidnapping newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst in 1974 and were imprisoned in 1978, will be paroled in June. Their attorney, Stuart Hanlon, said Bill Harris will become an investigative paralegal for Hanlon, and Emily Harris, who took computer training in prison, will look for a job in that field. Both will be placed on parole for three years, although they will probably be discharged after a year. The Harrises pleaded guilty in 1978 to the kidnapping charges and were sentenced to ten years, eight months to life in prison.

Robot Sabotage

Nearly two centuries after the Luddites attacked the machines which began taking away their jobs, working people are once again sabotaging the new robots that are appearing in more and more plants across the world. A professor of industrial robotics at a Netherlands management training center has recently concluded a study in which he found that robot sabotage had various ingenious forms -slowing down the machines by feeding them parts in the wrong order, repairing the machines incorrectly, mislaying essential spare parts or putting sand into the robots’ lubricating oil. In one metal construction plant, production was reduced for more than six months because of worker resistance to the use of robots.

Son Of Sabotage

Metal shavings were deliberately placed in the steering system of the carrier Iwo Jima in late November 1982, soon after the vessel was overhauled at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, the Navy said in December ’82. The Naval Investigative Service could not determine who did the sabotage.


On the last night of September 1982, just before the EPCOT Center opened at Disney World in Florida, someone spray-painted a few radical slogans in strategic locations around EPCOT. This has been followed by a city-wide campaign of graffiti carried out by many-colored long-winded spray painters. On a 24-hour teller they wrote “Burn Money/ Smash Computers!”… at the Plasma Center they wrote “Blood Money” … on a wall at the local daily newspaper they sprayed “News you can live without; Express yourself” and “Print the Truth” …. and on billboards advertising political candidates they’ve written “Politics equals stupidity” …. the group’s most talked about works are: “EPCOT GO HOME” and “EPCOT 2500 Robots can’t be wrong.” (Taken from Orlando Indicator: write Rick Harrison, POB 7561-A, Orlando, FL 32804.)

Credit Card Blues

Pa Bell seems to have momentarily gotten the upper hand as the Yippies have been thus far unable to crack the 1983 Calling Card telephone codes, due to the use of some new gigantic master phone computers. However, have faith as the Fone Freak Underground is no doubt busy right now attempting to find the key to the new RAO codes and YIP/Overthrow “remains totally dedicated to ‘limited destabilization measures’ against the Bell Oligopoly.” For further news, contact YIP/OVERTHROW at: POB 392, Canal Street Station, New York City NY 10013.

TV Versus Mao

Though Chairman Mao Tse-tung believed television had no place in a revolution, China’s modernization has brought in the age of TV. Prices are high and although a black and white set costs about $200, the annual income of many peasants, this does not deter them from attempting to attain the ultimate status symbol. “Nearly half the families in our commune have TV sets,” said a woman who lives in a fruit-growing area of a northeastern province. Nearly 400 million of China’s one billion people now have access to a TV set, and what are they watching? Formerly offered nothing but eight party-approved model revolutionary operas, the Chinese are now entertained with the likes of “The Man from Atlantis” (western science fiction). The government appears worried that the Chinese people will no longer participate in mandatory political study sessions when they can instead stay home and watch the tube.

What, No Couch?

You may soon be able to see a shrink without leaving your living room. Psychologist David Turkat told a meeting of the American Psychological Association in January that two-way interactive television can be used to conduct therapy sessions. The patient sits in front of the TV set and punches in a code, putting him through to the analyst’s office. Turkat says that the system could also be used to help patients “shop” for therapists without worrying about meeting them face-to-face.


Big Brother is alive and well… and working for the New York City Sanitation Department. The Big Apple has mounted cameras on its street-sweeping machines to deter crime. City Councilman Henry Stern says the cameras will be used to gather evidence of illegally parked cars and moving traffic violations. Says Stern: “It’s an enormous deterrent if people feel they’re being watched.”

Seal Pups Saved

Canadians may have seen the last of the century-old annual hunts for those white-coated seal pups whose deaths have drawn the protest of environmental groups around the world. After years of protests by environmental groups, the crucial European markets for the glistening white pelts of the harp seal pups of Canada have vanished.

There will still be three ships on the ice-fields this year, but the hunters will be seeking only adult harp and hood seals to adorn the backs of rich women. Veteran sealing captain Morrissey Johnson says there will be no killing this season of the “whitecoats” or “bluebacks,” as the harp and hood pups are called. Greenpeace Canada director Patrick Moore says that’s the announcement his group has been waiting for, for all these years. Moore said, “For the first time in 400 years, these wild seal pups will be left in their nursing ground in peace.”

But that is not the end of the battle.

Moore says the anti-hunt movement considers stopping the hunt for seal pups only a partial victory. That, he says, was the “primary goal”—but now that it has been achieved, Greenpeace will “re-evaluate” its tactics … and seek a complete halt to the killing of all seals. In past years, Green-peace has engaged in determined protests to stop the hunt. Protesters have used their bodies as shields to protect the seal … and they have chained themselves to sealing vessels and sprayed the pups with paint to render their pelts commercially useless.

Plastic Pollution Poisons

Tiny plastic pellets used to reduce friction on the decks of cargo ships spill by the millions into the ocean each year. The pellets, along with milk cartons, packing straps, and other plastic objects that are dumped into the ocean, are fouling even the most remote pristine environments such as the Galapagos Islands. The pellets have turned up in the food chain according to naturalists, blocking the digestive tracks of birds and fish and eventually poisoning them. Plastic pollution has already been found as far south as New Zealand and as far north as the Aleutians.

Nuclear Protest

Molly Lawrence, widow of physicist Ernest Lawrence whose invention made possible the development of the atomic bomb, has asked that his name be removed from a laboratory which designs nuclear weapons, saying he would have been distressed at such production. Major protests are planned for later this year at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California.