New Internationalist

Briefly…

Issue 135

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[image, unknown] BRIEFLY...

[image, unknown] CO-OPERATIVES[image, unknown]

Romulus to the rescue

Ten years ago, the city of Maoras became overrun by rats. HOW come? Because Irula tribesmen, who survived by selling snakeskins, had decimated the snake population - prompting a rodent explosion. The state government then banned the snake slaughter - which put the snake catchers out of work. Deadlock.

To the rescue came Romulus Whitaker, who encouraged Irula families to band together to form the Irula Snake Catchers Industrial Co-operative Society, and taught them how to milk’ venom from live snakes. The venom is dried and fetches a hefty price for medicinal uses.

For once, everybody wins: the Irulas, the snakes, the city of Maoras and snake bite victims all over the world.

From Earthscan/World Development Forum 2/1.

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[image, unknown] TRADE[image, unknown]

Dunlop punctured

Saudi Arabian anger over an advertisement by the Dunlop Tyre Company has cost the firm the chance to compete for a contract worth SI.4 million and earned a one-year boycott from a Saudi transport company.

Saudi Commerce Ministry officials said the advertisement, which showed an ugly Arab weeping tears of rage and holding a dagger to a Dunlop tyre promoted as a petrol-saver, insulted Arabs. Dunlop agreed there had been a lapse of judgement and apologised.

From Business Times, Malaysia, 14.10.83

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[image, unknown] POPULATION[image, unknown]

Abortion in demand

More than three million illegal abortions maybe taking place in Latin America every year, reports the UN’s Development Forum. Of 19 Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries, two do not officially permit abortions; nine allow only therapeutic abortions; four allow abortion in the case of severe illness that is likely to be aggravated by pregnancy; and the test allow it only for medical reasons or if the pregnancy resulted from incest or rape. In only one country - Cuba - is abortion not only legal but free.

‘Despite the law,’ writes Dr Benjamin Viel, of the Academia de Medicina in Santiago, Chile, ‘abortion rates in Latin America are higher than in countries where abortion is legal and effective contraceptives are easily available.

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[image, unknown] HEALTH[image, unknown]

Betel quid cancer

Oral cancer is one of the ten commonest cancers in the world: in many South-East Asian countries (like India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka) it is the most common. And around 90 per cent of oral cancers in this part of the world are caused by tobacco chewing and smoking, according to a World Health Organisation meeting held recently in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

The usual form of chewing is the betel quid, a tradition a thousand years old, where a large green betel leaf encloses lime, areca nut and tobacco, and is placed in one side of the mouth. The cancers almost always occur on the side of the mouth where the quid is kept- and the risk of cancer rises dramatically for those who keep the tobacco quid in the mouth overnight.

From Press Release WHO/3.

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[image, unknown] MARKETING[image, unknown]

Wriggling out

Chewing gum can prevent skin wrinkles and road accidents, according to one manufacturer. The South-East Asian subsidiary of the American Wrigley Company. hoping to wriggle out of what looks like a sticky sales problem in Singapore (where the government has added chewing gum to its list of social evils), insists the habit is good for you.

‘If women chew gum for five or six minutes a day, they’ll get less wrinkles because of the exercise for facial muscles,’ says Wrigley’s Hong Kong marketing manager. ‘And gum chewers are more attentive when they drive and less likely to fall asleep.’

Singapore has warned it may become the first country to ban chewing gum because it costs $7,500 a year to remove old gum from the walls and floors of housing estates.

From Business Times, Malaysia 24.11.83

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[image, unknown] WEALTH[image, unknown]

Black and White

From 1981 to 1983, while US military spending was increased by $55 billion, $10 billion was cut from federal programs that provided health care, nutrition and education to needy children, As a result, the gap between black and white America keeps growing.

* More than half of all American black babies born today are born into families with incomes below the poverty line.

· Almost two thirds of all white children in 1980 lived in families with incomes more than twice the poverty level.

· A black infant is almost twice as likely to die during the first year of life as a white infant.

· In 1980, black infants under one year were more than 10 times as likely to die of nutritional deficiencies as were white infants.

From Parenting for Peace and Justice Network Newsletter 11.

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[image, unknown] SHELTER[image, unknown]

Welcome home in 1987

UNICEF estimates that there could currently be as many as 40 million homeless children in Latin America alone. The United Nations General Assembly has designated 1987 as The International Year of Shelter for the Homeless’.

From Development Forum 11/8.

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[image, unknown] FOOD[image, unknown]

Amaranth blooms again

Amaranth, in poetry, refers to an imaginary flower that never fades. But amaranth is also a food grain that did fade from use and is now being revived.

During the Aztec period it was a basic food grain in Mexico, until Cortez forbade its use because of its role in Aztec religious ceremonies. Recently, however, the Rodale Research Center in Pennsylvania, USA, has been experimenting with the crop and reports the possibility of large-scale commercial use.

‘Amaranth is drought-resistant, has a protein content of about 16 per cent and comes closer than any other grain to the perfect balance of essential amino fluids,’ they say. It appears to be a promising crop for hot and dry regions.’ Amaranth could provide a homegrown substitute for imported wheat or for grain crops that are heavy drinkers of precious water supplies.

From World Development Forum. 1/2 3.

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Endquote

‘In spite of all the progress there has been made, the greatest problem in the world today remains the gap between rich and poor countries and we shall not begin to close this gap until we hear less about nationalism and more about inter-dependence.’

Queen Elizabeth II, Christmas 1983.

‘The tree of peace has justice at its roots.’

WCC Assembly, Vancouver 1983.


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