New Internationalist

Briefly…

Issue 128

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[image, unknown] BRIEFLY...

[image, unknown] COMMUNICATION[image, unknown]

The best medicine

In the West. satirists and comedians usually send up the status quo and those who seek to maintain it: politicians and other authority figures are favourite butts.

But, according to World Paper, China’s most famous comedian Hou Baloin has as his target people who are ‘insensitive’ to what the administration considers the public good:

‘Laughter is a rod for those who don’t conform.’

Hou Baloin is as famous now as the ministers he supports. Any Chinese can immediately re-tell a couple of his jokes. ‘I’m not as stupid as you think!’ he protests, in a well-known routine. You want me to climb up the beam from your flashlight, eh? I know what you’ve got in mind! When I’m halfway up, you’ll turn off the light and I’ll fall down.

He’s been a stand-up comic since 1940 Considering China’s changes of political line, how did he manage not to fall when he was halfway up?

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[image, unknown] APARTHEID[image, unknown]

Pretoria - all change!

Government figures issued recently in Pretoria show that last year: 722 coloured people were reclassified white: 15 whites were re-classified coloured; 109 blacks were re-classified coloured: 7 Chinese became whites and 39 coloured people became Indians.

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[image, unknown] LANGUAGE[image, unknown]

Not the Third World

A consulting firm devoted to deepening American understanding of global issues reports widespread dissatisfaction at the monolithic term ‘Third World’. It is used to designate those countries with underdeveloped but growing economies and low per capita incomes, and implies a grouping of nations with common characteristics.

But the ‘Third World’ includes such dissimilar countries as Upper Volta, with its subsistence agriculture and a per capita income of only $190, and the newly industrialising giant, Brazil: the fabulously wealthy OPEC nations and the world’s most impoverished countries like Chad.

The problem is that no one has come up with an appropriate alternative. Any suggestions’?

From World Development Forum, Vol. 1, No. 3.

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[image, unknown] JUSTICE[image, unknown]

A parable from Tolstoy

‘I see humanity as a herd of cattle inside a fenced enclosure. Outside the fence are green pastures with plenty for the cattle to eat. Inside the fence there is not quite enough. Consequently, the cattle trample underfoot what little grass there is. and gore each other to death in their struggle for existence.

‘I saw the owner of the herd come to them. And when he saw their pitiable condition, he was filled with compassion. He called his friends and asked them to assist him in cutting the grass from outside the fence and throwing it over the fence to the cattle. And they called that charity,

‘Then, because the calves were dying off, he arranged that they should each have a pint of milk every morning for breakfast, He put the corks on the horns of the cattle so that the wounds they gave each other might not be so serious, He reserved part of the enclosure for the old bulls and the old cows over seventy years of age. In fact, he did everything he could to improve the conditions of the cattle,

‘And when they asked him ___ why he did not do the one obvious thing - break down the fences and let the cattle out - he answered: "If I let the cattle out, I should no longer be able to milk them."’

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[image, unknown] THE DISABLED WORLD[image, unknown]

Self-help in the Sierra Madre

For years, the Hesperian Foundation and Project Piaxtla (a village-run health care network in the mountains of Western Mexico) have been bringing children with infantile paralysis and other disabilities to a hospital for crippled children in San Francisco,

But now the health team in the village - several of whom are handicapped themselves - has determined to start a rehabilitation centre run by disabled villagers to serve handicapped children and their families. The focus will be the education of the family and the integration of the child into the community.

Already there is a lot of interest. The son of the village blacksmith - a young man with a leg crippled by polio - has offered room for a workshop and to teach blacksmithing to others who are disabled, A village welder is eager to learn techniques of low-cost wheelchair-making from a paraplegic craftsman from San Francisco, Contacts have also been made with self-help disabled groups in Nicaragua, Bolivia and Thailand,

From ‘Newsletter from the Sierra Madre’ No. 14,

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[image, unknown] MULTINATIONALS[image, unknown]

Coffee beans to genes

Nestlé employs 142,000 people in 285 factories in at least 55 countries.

Last year they sold $13.5 billion worth of products, ranging from instant coffee to wine, frozen foods to contact lenses.

The new boss - Herr Helmut Maucher - is keen to expand existing Nestle enterprises in pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. And what else? Hang on to your hats - Nestlé scientists are looking at genetic engineering.

From the Financial Times, 10.5.83.

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[image, unknown] SOUTH AFRICA[image, unknown]

Black malnutrition

Racial classification not only determines where people can live and work, but also what health care is available to them. TB, though curable, is now killing 20,000 black children a year in South Africa, according to the Johannesburg Star. No white cases have been reported.

The Economic Research Bureau of Stellenbosch University has found that one in four black South African children under 15 is malnourished. Professor Allie M~osa of the University of Natal estimates that malnutrition kills 30,000 of these children each year.

South Africa’s Minister for Health, questioned recently about the country’s rising malnutrition rate, said the blame lies with people who ‘breed uncontrollably’.

From One World, July 1983.

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[image, unknown] EL SALVADOR[image, unknown]

Untried murders

Archbishop Arturo Rivera Damas has spoken out strongly in San Salvador cathedral against what he sees as double standards in American attitudes to killing in El Salvador. More than 40.000 non-combatant Salvadoran civilians had been murdered in the last four years, he said, without their cases being investigated: but a thorough investigation had been carried out in the cases of each of the eight Americans killed during the same period.

From One World. July 1983.

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[image, unknown] POPULATION[image, unknown]

The census-taker explosion

There’s been a lot of publicity about the census which showed that China’s population topped the billion mark last year. But did you know that just the number of census-takers involved exceeded the combined populations of Norway. Sweden Denmark and Iceland?

From World Development Forum, Vol. 1, No. 8

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Endquote

‘The Malvinas war was absurd... Hundreds died in the Belgrano alone. The military could say, of course, that beside the number of disappeared, these losses are insignificant. But I don’t think that this is an argument they can conveniently use.’

Jorge Luis Borges

‘The way out is through the door. Why is it that no one will use this exit?’

Confucius

‘The uncreative mind can spot wrong answers, but it takes a creative mind to spot wrong questions.’

Anthony Jay. in ‘Management and Machiaivelli


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