New Internationalist

Briefly…

Issue 134

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[image, unknown] BRIEFLY...

[image, unknown] ECONOMICS[image, unknown]

Motorbiking bankers

When was the last time your banker came out to visit you - and on a motorcycle?

The Pakistan Agricultural Development Bank has decided to send ‘mobile credit officers’ on motorcycles to rural areas, where they actively solicit farmers to take loans. These motor-biking bankers are university graduates with training in banking and rural economics. The idea is not to make more money for the bank, but to help farmers improve their crops and encourage national self-sufficiency in food.

From Road Rider motorcycle magazine, USA.

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[image, unknown] HUMAN RIGHTS[image, unknown]

Goethe un-personned

All Norwegian, US and West German entertainment has been banned from Poland’s state-run radio and television, in riposte for the award of the Nobel peace prize to Lech Walesa.

A recent broadcast of music by the Norwegian composer Grieg was cancelled, Because Germans nominated Walesa, a radio recital of Goethe’s poetry was axed. The Americans are unpopular because the Polish regime views President Reagan as the orchestrator of the West’s anti-Polish campaign. So even Gershwin tunes are now taboo for Polish orchestras; and screenings of Kojak have been dropped from TV.

From Index on Censorship, 1/84

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[image, unknown] COSTA RICA[image, unknown]

Baby health boom

Costa Rican babies are getting healthier. As recently as 1978, six per cent of infants up to six months old suffered from moderate malnutrition. The figure went up to ten per cent for babies between six months and a year old.

But the figures for 1982 show a marked drop: to 1.9 per cent and 2.5 per cent respectively. What has caused the improvement?

In Costa Rica, 95 per cent of babies are born in hospitals, but until the mid-seventies hospitals did not promote breastfeeding.

Health educators emphasised infant formula; newborns were routinely separated from their mothers and artificially fed; new mothers were supplied with 24 cans of formula automatically under the national social security system even if they were breastfeeding, and encouraged to provide solids to babies one month old.

Today, most hospitals allow babies to room-in with their mothers. Health education materials emphasising breast:

feeding blanket the country. There used to be one milk bank:

now there are seventeen. Revised national guidelines on infant feeding call for exclusive breastfeeding until the fourth month and preferably through the sixth month.

By 1982, 91 per cent of all newborns were being breastfed, and the numbers of malnourished babies had fallen.

From Mothers and Children, 3/3.

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[image, unknown] POPULATION[image, unknown]

The most popular contraceptive

Sterilisation is now the world’s most popular form of birth control. This year an estimated 100 million couples relied on sterilisation to limit family size - twice as many as now use birth control pills, and five times as many as were protected by sterilisation in 1970.

From World Development Forum, 1/22.

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[image, unknown] ENERGY[image, unknown]

Ruined necks

Some 400 million horses,oxen, cows, water buffaloes, donkeys, camels, mules, yaks, llamas, reindeer and elephants work for people today. They contribute as much as 90 per cent of the agricultural power used in some developing countries.

Professor N.S. Ramaswamy has estimated that in India bullocks and buffaloes haul more freight than the railways do. But he also calculates that India loses about a million animal years of work each year because of ruined necks caused by the traditional yoke - apparently a classic of bad design. The straight wooden beam touches only a small area of the animal’s neck, which therefore bears the entire weight of the load. The wood digs into the

flesh and also adds an extra 40 kg of weight itself. The neck takes the pressure of braking and turning the cart.

Simply replacing the yoke with a modern horse collar increases a water buffalo’s power by half.

From Asian Pocific Environment, 1/3.

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[image, unknown] MINORITIES[image, unknown]

London against racism

1984 has seen the start of a major drive by London’s local government authority, the Greater London Council. to make Londoners aware of the damaging effects of racism. Large, eye-catching posters have been on display, with copy that doesn’t mince words. Where would Margaret Thatcher be, demands one,if she had been born black? And responsibility for not allowing racism to continue is put squarely on all Londoners’ shoulders: one million Londoners suffer from racism, says another poster, because six million others allow it. Information packs provide detail. If you want to join the fight against racism in London - or inspire a similar campaign elsewhere - contact:

Ethnic Minorities Unit, Rm 686, County Hall, London SEt. UK.

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[image, unknown] DISARMAMENT[image, unknown]

Space weapons

NI readers will be familiar with US churches taking shareholder action in the babyfoods campaign. The newest area of church activism concerns President Reagan’s decision to develop a multibillion dollar missile defense system based in outer space.

Thirteen religious institutional investors have asked Eastman Kodak, the world’s largest manufacturer of photographic products, and Martin Marietta,one of the ten largest recipient’s of US Department of Defense contracts, to issue reports on their involvement in ‘the militarisation of space’. The churches want to know, among other things, how much the companies’ space weapons contracts are worth and what their policy is on the development of space as a battlefield.

From The Corporate Examiner, 12/11.

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[image, unknown] COMMUNICATION[image, unknown]

Gobbledegook award

The Consumer Affairs Commissioner for South Australia has introduced a new feature that should liven up their annual report: a Gobbledegook Award. The first recipient of this dubious honour is none other - than a fellow commissioner - the Commissioner for Highways - for a clause in a contract. The second sentence in this clause has no less than 247 words. That’s two-thirds of a column of NI text.

From IOCU newsletter No. 128.

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[image, unknown] AID[image, unknown]

Boomerang dollars

Three out of every four US aid dollars are used to purchase university consultative services and capital goods in the US. Who says so? No, noisome anti-US lobby group. It’s the testimany of officials from the US Agency for International Development, at recent Congressional hearings.

From World Development Forum, 1/22.

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[image, unknown] INDONESIA[image, unknown]

Short shrift

Indonesia’s Logistica Board has decided to dispense with the term ‘starvation’ (kelaparan) as a stage in critical food conditions. It has opted for ‘more refined’ expressions instead.

The first stage is ‘the possibility of being short of food’ or kenungkioan kurang makan with its abbreviation, KKM. This is to be used for people who eat only once a day. For those uncertain of getting even one meal a day, the official term is to be ‘short of food’ or kurang ,nakan (KM).

From TAPOL Bulletin No. 55.

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Endquote

‘It is a superstition to believe that an act of a majority binds a minority. Many examples can be given in which acts of majorities will be found to be wrong and those of minorities to have been right. All reforms owe their origin to the initiation of minorities in opposition to majorities.’

Gandhi


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