New Internationalist

Briefly

Issue 114

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[image, unknown] BRIEFLY...

[image, unknown] SOUTH ATLANTIC[image, unknown]

Torturers of the world unite

According to the Johannesburg Sunday Times, a secret South Atlantic treaty was signed between South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay. Uruguay, Taiwan and Israel — 13 years ago. The newspaper says that 38 generals from the treaty countries have visited South Africa over the last year. Relations between Argentina and South Africa appear to have been particularly intimate. According to Africa Now, four professional Argentine torturers were posted to South Africa in 1979-80, including the now notorious Lieut. Alfredo Astiz, who became naval attaché in Johannesburg in 1979. Known ironically as the angel robin (blond angel), Astiz is said to have specialised in kidnapping and killing pregnant women.

From Latin America Weekly Review WR-82-18.

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[image, unknown] DEVELOPMENT EDUCATION[image, unknown]

Pity is not enough

An experiment carried out in some UK primary schools recently showed the image British children have of their counterparts in developing countries. Most frequently associated with the word children were the words dirty, hungry ill, poor, skinny, thin. Only one word with a positive connotation (friendly) was applied more than twice. Clothes were animal skins, dim; ragged, tattered, food was scarce, horrible. A more cheerful note was struck by music, associated with drums and singing.

The image of the starving child familiar in fund-raising advertisements has obviously hit home. But the experiment also shows how negative and distancing such an image can be.

From UNICEF News, Issue III.

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[image, unknown] HEALTH[image, unknown]

Now wash your hands

A study in the worst slums of Dacca, Bangladesb, found that plain old-fashioned soap is an excellent medicine against secondary infection, when diarrhoea is caused by shigella bacteria

‘Someone would get sick; we would treat him, cure him, then all the family would get sick,’ said William Greenough, of the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease. ‘But the provision of soap, a pitcher and advice on washing before meals and after going to the toilet can actually stop the spread of disease.’ In the Dacca study, it reduced by 80 per cent the spread of shigellosis within families. ‘Soap is a wonderful invention. We have forgotten about it. Strangely, no one has written about soap in the UN Water and Sanitation Decade.’

From People Vol 9 No. 2.

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[image, unknown] CONSERVATION[image, unknown]

Clouded prospects

The World Wildlife Fund Malaysia (WWFM) has listed 26 species of Malaysian animals, including the rare Sumatran rhino, as ‘highly endangered’. There are less than 50 of these rhino left in Malaysia and perhaps no more than 500 elephants. Their habitat, the ancient Malaysian forest, is being cut down so fast that ‘nothing may remain by 1990’, according to a WWFM spokesman.

Meanwhile, the Kedah State Wildlife Department in North Malaysia estimate that only 20-30 clouded leopards are left in the jungles of Kedah, and none left in the forest reserve in Penang. Nor have any black panthers been sighted in the area for the past few years.

From Suara SamFriends of the Earth Malaysia Vol No. 1

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[image, unknown] COMMUNICATIONS[image, unknown]

Informational sovereignty

‘Informatics’ — the marriage between telecommunications and the computer — demonstrates another dramatic gap between the Third World and the industrialised nations. One hundred giant companies control 75 per cent of the world trade in the informatics field, a volume whose worth in 1980 was calculated at $200 million. Despite the global economic crisis, this is one industry that is growing fast.

By 1977, the US stored 89 per cent of all commercial electronically processed information. One ominous result is that in the last few years it has been able to obtain information about nearly any country (including those of Western Europe) better, cheaper and more completely than is possible within any other national system. So informatics have created new political problems, of ‘transborder dataflow’ and ‘informational sovereignty’.

From Cettem Newsletter No. 4.

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[image, unknown] ENERGY[image, unknown]

Do not adjust your set

The first wind- and sun-powered television transmitter in Britain began work in January, at Bossiney in Cornwall.

The experimental station will, to begin with, provide programmes to about 300 people using one wind generator, 24 solar panels, and 36 batteries to store excess power.

From SCRAM Energy Bulletin No. 29.

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[image, unknown] MALNUTRITION[image, unknown]

Can't afford to starve

Prevention is not only better than cure, it’s usually cheaper.

The cost of curing malnutrition in the English-speaking Caribbean is considerable. Even at a very conservative estimate, the Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute reckons that to hospitalise just their severely malnourished children would cost over US $5 million. The children would occupy every general and paediatric bed in the Caribbean and there’d still be a queue. Food supplements for moderately and severely malnourished children would cost another US $35.000 per day.

From Cajanus Vol 15 No. 2

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[image, unknown] COMMUNICATIONS[image, unknown]

Don't call us

According to the UN Statistical Yearbook, there were 358 million telephones installed in the world (1975) but only eight per cent of these were in the Third World.

From Cettem Newsletter No.4

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[image, unknown] PRODUCTS[image, unknown]

Consumer Interpol

Anwar Fazal, head of the Malaysia-based International Organisation of Consumer Unions, found solid support when he visited Australia earlier this year for his campaign to establish ‘Consumer Interpol’ a worldwide network of community action groups to work against the marketing of dangerous or inappropriate products in the Third World. The Australian section will be co-ordinated by the Australian Consumers Association which publishes the highly-respected consumer magazine Choice.

Jeff Atkinson, of the Australian development agency Community Aid Abroad, said after the Fazal visit: ‘Consumer Interpol’s aim will be to strengthen member groups concerned about those aspects of poverty and ill-health in the Third World which are directly attributable to the commercial activities of Western companies.’

Australia will concentrate on unacceptable goods marketed in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific Islands. Atkinson sees Consumer Interpol as ‘transnational enterprise . . . in the cause of justice rather than profit’.

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Endquote

‘There are no votes to be gained from prevention, which by its nature is invisible when successful. Politicians prefer to erect Disability Complexes and Handicap Palaces as visible evidence of their compassion (or at least of their passion for popularity).’

N. Miles, Mission Hospital Peshawar, Pakistan.


‘A computer can achieve what it does not know (not knowing that 2 + 2 = 4, it can find out), but it cannot yearn for the answer.’

Roger Rosenblatt — Time,’ 3 May 1982.


‘They’re very wealthy people like the sheiks of the Middle East — they get royalties from the uranium mining. Aboriginals are all satisfied and happy — they don’t want anything further.’

From Queensland Premier, John Bjelke-Petersen quoted in the Cairns Post, 5 May, 1982


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