New Internationalist

Briefly…

Issue 137

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[image, unknown] BRIEFLY...

[image, unknown] CHARITY[image, unknown]

Loaves and fishnets

Joseph Short, executive director of Oxfam-America, said that when it was distributing food rations in Cambodia, hundreds of people waited quietly for their share, ‘but when fishnets were handed out, the crowd cheered’.

From A Shift in the Wind 15.

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[image, unknown] NUCLEAR POWER[image, unknown]

Picnic at Three Mile Island

The nuclear industry in the US is promoting visits to nuclear stations as ‘mildly adventurous’ additions to a vacation. At Three Mile Island, a brochure trills: ‘A walk through the Visitors Centre provides you with a close look at the work being done in Unit Two. Clean up… decontamination waste handling... And, weather permitting, you are welcome to have your picnic lunch at the tables behind the Centre.

‘Enjoy your stay. Let us know of your questions and concerns. We’re here to help you.

From WISE 5/6.

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[image, unknown] NUCLEAR POWER[image, unknown]

Bending the rules

By altering the rules for reporting nuclear incidents, the UK government has managed to restrict the number of incidents reported to the media. The Health and Safety Executive used to produce a quarterly bulletin listing all such incidents reported to them by the nuclear industry. Now fewer incidents qualify.

For instance, according to the old criteria, ‘all exposures to radiation or contamination above prescribed limits’ must be reported. But now reports are restricted to exposures to radiation or contamination which have been confirmed or result in over-exposures exceeding twice the maximum annual permissible limits’.

From WISE 5/6.

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[image, unknown] ENERGY[image, unknown]

Windmills vs nuclear plants

Danish scientists have produced a plan to reduce Denmark’s total energy consumption by the year 2000 to almost half of what it is today. The plan would not reduce the standard of living; on the contrary, it assumed a doubling of living space for the 600,000 people most poorly situated.

The ‘Alternative Energy Plan’ emphasises conservation and renewable energy. It recommends an extensive insulation programme and the construction of over 60.000 windmills, and is a response to the government’s official plan, which gives low priority to renewable energy and emphasises large power-generating units including nuclear plants.

From WISE 5/6.

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[image, unknown] MIGRATION[image, unknown]

Deportation shrine

On Ash Wednesday, a ‘deportation shrine’ was inaugurated in Manchester Cathedral, UK. The shrine is intended as a place of prayer for those threatened with deportation and to draw attention to the suffering caused by the racial discrimination inherent in Britain’s Immigration Rules.

The shrine is sponsored by the British Council of Churches’ Community and Race Relations Unit. ‘Deportation cases,’ said Keith Jenkins, the executive secretary of the Unit, ‘are the sharpest reminder of the injustice the Rules create as individual lives are disrupted.’

From BCC press release, 4/84.

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[image, unknown] COMMUNICATION[image, unknown]

Browing-out Hispanics

Public Advocates Inc., a public interest law firm in San Francisco, conducted a study on the television networks’ autumn programmes last year. Entitled ‘Network Brown-Out of Hispanics’, the study revealed that, although six per cent of Americans are of Spanish origin:

· only three Hispanics had significant speaking roles out of 496 characters - that’s half of one per cent;

· only 10 out of 866 characters who spoke one or more lines were Hispanic;

· of the 63 prime time shows, 55 portrayed no Hispanics at all.

· none of the Hispanics portrayed a positive image.

President Reagan, commenting on the stereotyping of minorities on television, told the Washington Post, ‘Well, let me put on my old actors’ union hat for a moment because there’s some truth in that... Why can’t (they) more frequently assign parts as shop owners and business people to minorities.

From Hispanic 1/1.

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[image, unknown] POLLUTION[image, unknown]

Bringing up adults

The commitment of certain councillors in Cornwall, UK. to clean air seems to be less than complete. The chairman of Perranporth Parish Council is reported to have apologised to children at the local junior school. His colleagues had stubbed their cigarettes out in saucers containing cultures used by the pupils as part of clean air experiment.

From New Health, April ‘84.

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[image, unknown] FOOD STUFF[image, unknown]

Ginseng truffles

The food industry gets more and more bizarre in its efforts to tempt jaded palates. National barriers are blithely scaled. The Japanese, for instance, having stirred up the Scots with their version of whisky, are now taking on the French with the artificial truffle. It’s based on ginseng and garlic - and, unlike its French counterpart, which is found by rooting pigs and dogs trained for the purpose, is relatively cheap.

Takeaway truffle bars next?

From New Health, April ‘84.

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[image, unknown] POLLUTION[image, unknown]

The downfall of Rome?

Did Rome fall because of mass lead poisoning? The idea may not be as crazy as it sounds.

In modem industrial societies, lead pollution from cars and other sources results in people absorbing 15-25 times as much lead as tribal people. But it was much worse in ancient Rome. Dr Jerome O Nriagu estimates in Lead and Lead Poisoning in Antiquity that rich Romans absorbed over 100 times as much lead as tribal people.

Lead was the first metal to be refined and was used in medicines, cosmetics, masonry and plumbing. And while the ancient Greeks used resin to preserve wine, the Romans used a syrup called ‘sapa’ prepared by stewing in lead kettles. Sapa was also used in cooking. Dr Nriagu proposes that the, decadence of some of the Roman emperors was a symptom of ‘plumbism’ lead poisoning.

From Nature 307/595/.

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[image, unknown] HEALTH[image, unknown]

Valium warning

The World Health Organisation has recommended that 33 tranquillisers be dispensed only by prescription. Foremost on the list is diazepam, sold under dozens of brand names including Valium. In India, it is known also as Calmpose, or Anzepam: as Alboral in Mexico: as Anding in China, and as Sedapam in the UK.

Although the drugs have therapeutic value, they are dependence-producing.

From WHO press release.

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[image, unknown] WILDLIFE[image, unknown]

Death row moneys

Malaysian monkeys are being exported to developed countries, particularly the United States, to be subjected to nuclear radiation experiments and chemical warfare studies. At the notorious Brooks Airforce Base, monkeys are exposed to massive doses of neutron radiation. They are then subjected to varying degrees of electric shocks and made to run on treadmills until they die.

Malaysian monkeys are supposedly exported only on condition that the monkeys are used for ‘the furtherance of bona fide research and development beneficial to humanity’.

From Suara Sam, Malaysia.

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Endquote

‘It may be a drop in the Ocean but
the ocean is made up of drops.’

Mother Teresa

‘It is still true, today, to say that charity begins at home. But home today is all the world.’

Pope Paul VI

‘We will never create a more human society if we use hatred against hatred; if we answer abuse with vengeance.’

Tomas Borge, Minister of the Interior, Nicaragua.


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