New Internationalist

Briefly

Issue 121

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[image, unknown] BRIEFLY...

[image, unknown] NORTH-SOUTH[image, unknown]

Italy paves the way

Italy has upped its contribution to UNICEF dramatically: from half a million dollars in 1979 to 30 million in 1982. And Italy’s first systematic survey of public attitudes toward helping the Third World also shows a remarkable expression of support for development policies. As many as 84 per cent of those interviewed said they believed Italy must make a share of its own resources available to the poor world even if it means sacrifices for Italians.

The findings are especially surprising given the current economic recession and high unemployment, which have led other Western countries to slash their development contributions.

So why is Italy behaving so differently? According to Ideas Forum (No. 9/10. a news bulletin issued by UNICEF, the Italian government’s policy changed after a number of Italian parliamentarians went on hunger strike as a form of pressure on the government to change their attitude towards the Third World.

The mobilisation of public opinion has continued ever since. Last year. an Faster march in Rome against world hunger was attended by 100,000 people — and that was only one of many mass demonstrations and hunger strikes on the issue.

The Italian government has also set aside a further $100 million for a joint UNICEF! WHO programme to reduce hunger among mothers and children in the poor world.

Would your local candidate fast to fight world hunger? Might be worth asking.

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[image, unknown] PEACE[image, unknown]

Pay for war no more

The Peace Pledge Union (PP U). the British section of War Resisters International, has a brave slogan: ‘I renounce war and I will never support or sanction another.’

As an employer the PPU is responsible for collecting taxes from staff salaries and passing them on to the British tax authorities. But they have calculated that 45 per cent of these taxes goes on Ministry of Defence purposes. As of last November, the PPU has withheld this amount, and is encouraging other employers to take a similar stand.

Instead it hopes that a fund for ’peace building’ will be set up so that money now conscripted for war preparations can be used creatively, for better housing, health care and education
From Peace Pledge Union press release.

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[image, unknown] SAFETY AT WORK[image, unknown]

Neutral hazards, faulty workers

Fifty-nine big US corporations have told a Congressional committee that they plan to start genetic screening of their employees in the next five years — purportedly to discover genetic predispositions to serious illnesses that might be triggered off by materials used in the workplace. Some seventeen companies have used genetic screening during the last five years and six are using it now.

The corporations have come under fire for trying to shift the blame for occupational health problems to ‘faulty’ workers instead of doing away with the dangerous materials and work processes.

From IUF News Bulletin, Switzerland, No. 8.

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[image, unknown] APPROPRIATE TECHNOLOGY [image, unknown]

Milkshaw power

Rickshaws are the main mode of urban transport in much of Asia. In Dacca. Bangladesh, there are about 100,000 in operation. Some 100 of these are now being used to deliver fresh milk around the city, according to Change (No. 2/ 1982).

The Bangladesh Milk Producers’ Co-operative Union previously used 16 trucks to distribute milk. But traffic delays slowed deliveries and milk spoils fast in Dacca’s climate. The white-painted ‘milkshaws’ are equipped with a large, insulated box for keeping 250 litres of milk cool in sachets. The boxes are locally made, using jute as an insulation material. So the new scheme provides work for milkshaw makers as well as for drivers. Each milkshaw costs about $400 (the imported trucks cost $30,000 each) and were developed as part of a project run by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation.

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[image, unknown] AGRICULTURE[image, unknown]

Forever orange blossom time

An orange tree that bears fruit three times a year has been cultivated in China — accidentally, says a report from Depthnews Science Service.

Unlike ordinary citrus trees that produce only once a year, the new orange tree blossoms in March, then in June, and again in December. Thus the tree has fruit on its branches virtually all year round. The fruit are said to average 220 grams each and the tree’s yearly yield is one- and a-half times that of ordinary orange trees.

Chance played a large part in the discovery of this new variety. In 1963, fruit growers in Baoshan county, in southwest China, grafted cuttings of a new variety from neighbouring Sichuan province onto local rootstocks. They were reportedly amazed to find one of the resulting trees bearing fruit three times each year.

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[image, unknown] COMMUNICATIONS[image, unknown]

Gobbledegook or poetry?

How do government authorities communicate with the citizenry? Soul-withering jargon hasn’t always been the medium. Take this stirring example, preserved in the ancient town of Lostwithiel in Cornwall, UK. It’s a public health order issued by the mayor, back in 1853, in an effort to contain a cholera epidemic:

‘A sincere unity of action on the part of the general public would do more than any statute, however wisely framed, or with the most active interference of magisterial authority.

‘There should be no division in the citadel when the enemy is at the gates. No petty differences should disturb your councils; let unity on your common banner be written in letters of fire. The Cholera does not announce itself with a flourish of trumpets; it is a silent, stealthy, invisible minister of fate.

‘The Cholera gambols in gaseous bubbles on the surface of cesspools and these bubbles are terrible engines of destruction. - You are blessed with a constant supply of pure water and the town shoot is far more precious than a rich stream of liquid silver; it is the best physic in the world.

Cesspools will never seem the same again

In contrast, there’s modern bureauspeak, much satirised but still rampant The Editorial Eye recently carried a parody by Jim Boren, who translates well-known sayings into bureaucratic gobbledegook.

Try these:
1. Precipitancy of implementation fosters the bottom line prodigality.

2. Individuals who initiate supplicatory pleadings will meet with negative success in implementing preferential selection

3. When interfacing with a confrontational or crisis-oriented situation, execute a transferral action.


Answers:
1. Haste makes waste
2. Beggars can’t be choosers
3. When in trouble, delegate

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Endquote

‘The only thing necessary for the triumph
of evil is for good men to do nothing.’

Edmund Burke, British statesman (1729-1797).


‘And when it is all over what will the world be like? Our fine great buildings, our homes will exist no more, the thousands of years it took to develop our civilization will have been in vain. Our works of art will be lost. Radio, television, newspapers will disappear. There will be no means of transport. There will be no hospitals. No help can be expected for the few mutilated survivors in any town to be sent from a neighbouring town— there will be no neighbouring towns left, no neigbours, there will be no help, there will be no hope.’

Lord Lous Mountbatten 1979


‘Pity would be no more
If we did not make somebody poor;
And Mercy no more could be
If all were as happy as we.’

William Blake, in ‘The Human Abstract’ (1794).


‘Hitherto, while one half of civilisation has always been in a mess, the other half has run the papers; and so matters have been kept in decent darkness.’

George Bernard Shaw; Pall Mall Gazette (1886).


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