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Postmaster: If undeliverable; send Form 3579 to The Texas Observer, 307 W. 7th St., Austin, Texas 78701 POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE OUR MAN PHIL IN HAVANA. Phil Gramm put on a guyabera, the casual, elegant shirt that has become the signature mark of Latin American politicians, and made an indirect threat on the life of Cuban President Fidel Castro. “The only purpose that we should allow Fidel Castro into America for is to put him in prison or hang him,” Gramm said to a group of Cuban Americans in Miami’s Little Havana. Gramm’ s comments moved Miami Herald political reporter Tom Fielder to engage in a bit of editorializing on the news page. “Gramm’s hyperbolic assertion that Castro should be brought to this country and hanged demonstrated that he could not be outdone by any rival appealing to Cuban exile voters, who wield significant power on Florida Republican pOlitics,” Fielder wrote. Gramm’s statement relates to Castro’ s application for a visa to travel to the United Nations headquarter in New York. Gramm also reminded the audience that unlike Bob Dole, he opposes Official-English language laws. WOMEN IN COURT. On October 10, the Texas Supreme Court heard arguments from Texas plaintiffs suing silicone breast implant manufacturers over long-term health problems they say were caused by the devices. One prominent manufacturer, Dow Corning, filed for bankruptcy in May, as an implant lawsuit was coming to trial. Bankruptcy protection temporarily stays all litigation against the company. Dow Corning, which manufactured the implants, is a joint venture between Dow Chemical Company and Corning, Inc., of New York. The Court heard arguments on whether lawsuits against Dow Chemical can continue, as lawsuits against its subsidiary, Dow Corning, have been halted. The plaintiffs and their counsel accuse Dow Chemical of deliberately placing Dow Corning into bankruptcy to avoid liability. Outside the hearing, Yvonne Day, 34, of Alvin, described years of deteriorating health following her breast implant procedure in 1985. She can no longer obtain standard, comprehensive health insurance, she says, as a result of her medical problems, including a 1992 diagnosis of systemic lupus erythematosis, a serious autoimmune disorder. Houstonian Marilyn Sapp dates her implant-related health problems to 1979; she had her implant surgery in 1978 and had the implants removed in 1992. Sapp complains of reactive airway disease similar to asthma, joint pain, and nerve damage. Although they agreed in 1994 to an international settlement totalling 4.25 billion dollars, Dow Corning and seven other manufacturers of silicone breast implants continue to dispute the validity of plaintiffs’ claims of health damage. Lawyers representing breast implant plaintiffs counter with internal Dow Corning documents, stating that company researchers had shown as early in 1975 that the silicone in the implants harmed the immune system of mice, as well as: A 1987 studyin the Medtox Project Reportin which Dow Corning acknowledged that the chronic reactions to silicone seen in test animals might be analogous to autoimmune-type diseases in humans. A 1977 memo, in which a Dow Corning employee recorded that he told plastic surgeons “with crossed fingers” that Dow Corning, too, had an active `contracture/gel migration’ study underway. This apparently satisfied them for the moment, but one of these days, they will be asking us for the result of our studies.” No such studies were then underway at Dow Corning. OU SUCKS TOO. It’s not only football Coach John Mackovic who is catching hell these days from diehard Longhorn fans. Robert Heard’s sports newsletter, Inside Texas, reported on October 15 that UT president Robert Berdahl can be thrown for a loss as well. Heard recounted Berdhal’ s appearance on a call-in show on student radio station KVRX, where he responded to arguments that the university should reject support from Freeport-McMoRan, which has been accused of complicity in human rights abuses that occurred at the company’s mine site in Irian Jaya, Indonesia. Berdahl answered that the university is a “neutral forum” and a “free place” which cannot censor benefactors “based on their point of view.” The inimitable Heard commented bluntly: “Freeport’ s actions are not really a `point of view’ unless one also thinks that ethnic cleansing in Bosnia is a ‘point of view.'” 24 OCTOBER 27, 1995