New Internationalist

Briefly

Issue 111

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[image, unknown] BRIEFLY...

[image, unknown] SRI LANKA[image, unknown]

The power of the future

Sri Lanka's first entirely solar-powered village was inaugurated in December of last year. The village, Minneriya, is 100 miles north of Colombo. On the roof of each house is an array of photo-voltaic cells (solar cells) which feed into a nickel-cadmium cell battery. The sun recharges the battery during the day, and the battery heats a fluorescent tube generating light during the evening. The new solar-powered lighting replaces kerosene burned in bottle lamps. Solar units cost about $175 each but researchers expect the cost to drop to $17 each by 1986.

From Inter Press Service

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[image, unknown] CENTRAL AMERICA[image, unknown]

C'est impossible

A French government spokesman from the Elysée Palace has insisted that the arms supplied to Nicaragua in a deal agreed in December l98l, 'cannot be considered as offensive weapons'. US Defense Department sources with characteristic vagueness say they are unsure whether Secretary Weinberger was told that the deal would include rockets and rocket launchers when he discussed it with French Defence Minister Charles Hernu. Washington is now said to have lodged 'a very strong protest', pointing out that such weapons could easily be transferred to the guerillas in El Salvador. The French say that the air-to-ground rockets they are supplying can only be mounted on helicopters and with French technical assistance.

From Latin America Weekly Report WR-82-06

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[image, unknown] LATIN AMERICA[image, unknown]

Chile, double standards of remembrance

Curiously, two requiem masses were celebrated for former Christian leader and democratically elected President Eduardo Frei. The first was attended by President Pinochet and his cabinet. A second mass, held the same day, was attended by Frei's family. They had refused to attend the mass with Pinochet because the government had banned the presence of Frei's friends and members of his party. The diplomatic corps, not normally to be counted amongst Santiago's opposition, attended the mass with Frei's family and put out a statement regretting Pinochet's latest banning.

From Latin America Weekly Report, WR-82-06

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[image, unknown] PETROLEUM[image, unknown]

The Philippines magic tree

The Filipinos have discovered a tree - many people are calling it the petroleum tree - whose fruit gives out kerosene-like oil which burns with a blue flame and contains 16 per cent pure alcohol. The discovery of the tree, known locally as the hanga tree, has prompted other South-east Asian countries to search their forests to see if they too have a potential alternative source of oil. For the Philippines, which imports 85 per cent of its energy needs in the form of crude oil, the tree seems a dream. Plans have been drawn up to propagate the hanga trees with commercial oil supplies beginning in perhaps three years' time. Seedlings are being sold for plantations, and between February and May 1981 almost 8,000 cuttings and thousands of seeds were planted.

From Development Forum, September 1981

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[image, unknown] BABYFOODS[image, unknown]

Bottlefeeding increase

Between 1977 and 1980 the percentage of wholly breastfed babies (aged 0-18 months) fell from 44 per cent to 31 per cent, at the Fijian Ministry of Health's central clinic in Suva. Worried about this drop in breastfeeding, the Ministry and the National Food and Nutrition Committee plan to step up the campaign to encourage natural suckling.

From Fiji Food and Nutrition Newsletter, April 1981

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[image, unknown] ADVERTISING [image, unknown]

Nicotine stains the facts

The US cigarette industry has launched an advertising campaign in the tobacco-growing southern states stressing the hazards of abstention: 'Tobacco means 48,000 jobs to Tennessee,' Tennessee tobacco helps pave Tennessee roads, builds Tennessee parks and supports Tennessee social programmes. In fact tobacco contributes more than $613 million to Tennessee's economy.' The advertising campaign is run by the Tobacco Institute, a Washington-based industry trade association. The association strains credibility to breaking point by also denying that smoking can be dangerous to your health. Just to put the record straight, the American Cancer Society quoting from the US Surgeon General, says the direct cost of treating smoking-related illnesses is estimated at US$5-8 billion a year, with an additional $12 to $18 billion lost in wages and productivity.

From Consumer Currents

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[image, unknown] EDUCATION [image, unknown]

What Japanese students don't know

The civics section of junior high school textbooks in Japan was recently revised due to pressure from government. Sections where the dangers of nuclear power plants were described have been censored together with references to the corruption scandals of the big trading corporations. In senior high school textbooks, accounts of pollution have also disappeared. References to the Minamata disease, a form of mercury poisoning contracted by those who had eaten fish that had swum in mercury contaminated wastes have also been cut by the censor's blue pencil. The reason would see to be that the book identifies Chisso, the company which discharged the untreated wastes into the sea. Civics education is obviously not about such things.

From IMCS Asia Newsletter, September 1981

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[image, unknown] FOOD[image, unknown]

The medium is the package

In the United States, packaging and container costs for food and drink average a third of the value of the food they protect. And for a quarter of the food and drink products, the cost of the package exceeds the cost of what is inside.

From National Food Reviews, Spring 1981/Consumers Union News Digest, 17.7.81

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[image, unknown] NUCLEAR ENERGY[image, unknown]

Mushroom Power

The total installed nuclear energy capacity in the world increased by 11 per cent in 1980 - from 123 GWe to 136 Gwe - according to the International Atomic Energy Agency. Most of the increase was due to nuclear power plants coming on stream in France, Sweden and the USSR. Also in 1980, 19 new reactors were ordered and 12 cancelled. Total electrical energy needs met by nuclear power will have increased from 6 per cent in 1978 to a predicted 11 per cent by 1985, according to the Agency.

From Energiesspectruns, 11/81

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Endquote

"Modern communication methods can condense a whole farming season into a single videotape programme."

From Ceres, house journal on the Food and Agricultural Organization.

"Western science and technology have failed to provide for even the most basic needs of the majority of the world's population. We need new models in an era in which all our high priests are being defrocked at once. Far from replacing moral values, science depends for its functioning on values like honesty, integrity and trust. Therefore we must choose our dreams and values before we choose our techniques."

Front Jakob von Üxküll, quoted in Consumer Currents

“The British submarine-launched ballistic missiles are pears in a basket of apples.”

From a Whitehall spokesman, quoted in The Observer.

“My finger slipped, I hit the button and nuked Washington by mistake.”

From an advert for ‘Computer and Video Games’ magazine.


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