Despite the four-year long Iran-Iraq war and casualties of an estimated 500,000 Iranians and 70,000 Iraqis, Baghdad appears to be prospering. The National Geographic correspondent didn’t find the equalising effects of Baathist socialism too grating. Indeed there are Volvo station wagons on the street, police patrolling in Mercedes and coffee and toast cost $12. Shops are well stocked apart from typewriters. Why the strange omission? You guessed it. Special permission is required for an Iraqi to buy one. After all, the machine might be used to produce subversive words ... as President Saddam Hussein did himself a long time ago.
From National Geographic, Vol. 167, No. 1 Jan. 1985.
Bring back the Indian blanket
‘Isn’t it about time someone blew the whistle on Hollywood-style Canadian Indians who persist in publicly demeaning our cultural integrity by dolling themselves up for visiting poohbabs?’, demands Owendaka, an Indian writer in the fall issue of Goodwin’s .His explosion was prompted by the sartorial rig-outs of the Indian people who turned out for the Queen’s and Pope’s visits to Canada.
The many feathered war bonnets are particularly sacrilegious. ‘None of the wearers knew what an Indian had to do to earn the right to wear a single eagle feather, never mind a headdress. ’Then there was the Ontario chief who showed up for the Queen in a Prairie style outfit, with headdress colours of electric blue and day-gb orange that would have shamed the most brazen punk.
The next time Indian delegates dress up, Owendaka for one will be avoiding the shameful cultural decay by wearing his blanket over his head.
From Goodwin’s, Fall 1984,
P.O. Box 1043, Station B, Ottawa,
Ontario KJP 5RL Canada.
The British Medical Association has launched an aggressive campaign against smoking, through the distribution of black-edged cards to family doctors - see right. They are asking all doctors to put pressure on their parliamentary representatives for an end to tobacco’s sport sponsorship with its resultant free advertising. Whenever a patient dies of a smoking-related disease, her or his doctor will fill out the card and send it to their local Member of Parliament: grisly mail for our overworked politicians.
From Tobacco Alert, Series 1, VoL 2, No.3 Sept. 1984.
Selling your body
Pick up the leading Rio de Janeiro newspaper, according to US Congressman Gore, and you see pages of adverts by people willing to sell their organs - corneas, kidneys etc. - for whatever they can get. In a country with such gross differences between rich and poor, it’s logical.
The market in human organs from people, living or dead, is expanding in the US too. That is why the Congressman is sponsoring a bill to forbid the buying and selling of human organs. But in a country where the almighty buck rules, voluntary organ donation on death is not working. There have to be cash incentives. Unless there are changes soon, speculates one medical ethics expert, relatives will be auctioning off their next-of-kin’s cadavres piecemeal to the highest bidder.
In the private health system of the US people can already sell their blood and their sperm, while surrogate mothers are paid to rent out their wombs. For the rich to buy the organs of the poor, whether living or dead, is a natural extension of power.
From MotherJones, December, 1984.
Bolivia’s largest labor union recently declared the country should comply with US pleas to reduce coca production - but only if Washington agreed to slash its nuclear arsenal. ‘Coca (the raw material of cocaine) is a nourishing and medicinal product, while the US arsenal is the main threat to humanity’s existence,’ observed the Workers’ Confederation in a resolution at its annual congress. ‘If the imperialist powers propose the reduction of coca cultivation, the workers of Bolivia demand the reduction of the imperialists’ nuclear arsenals.’
From Mother Jones, December, 1984
The lion’s share
Women and girls are more likely to be malnourished than men and boys. A London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine survey of famine in Ethiopia and Burkina Faso (Upper Volta) found a marked difference between the sexes in malnutrition. In Nepal, according to a Save the Children (UK) study, girls under five are 50 per cent more likely to be malnourished than their brothers, and women 50 per cent more likely than men to develop blindness due to chronic malnutrition. In India the 1981 census found that the rates of premature death are rising for all age groups of women and girls. A WHO survey found that about 65 per cent of pregnant Indian women are so anaemic that their babies’ health suffers. Ironically it is often the women who dole out the food and decide who has the lion’s share. They decide to starve themselves and their daughters by feeding first the men then the boys with the largest portions.
From Earthscan Bulletin, Vol 7 No.s 5&6 Dec. 1984
Insecticide and frogs legs
The seasonal slaughter of hundreds of millions of wild bull frogs in India and Bangladesh is increasing farmers’ dependency on dangerous insecticides. The Indian bull frog (the Rana tigrina) eats its own weight in insects and other pests every day in the monsoon season.
Today the frog is comparatively rare in India and Bangladesh has taken over as the world’s largest exporter.
Asian farmers have to compensate for this loss of a free natural pest control agent by using highly toxic chemicals like DDT or Sevin and Temik - made at Bhopal. While some of the chemicals are locally made. others have to be imported. India spends $15 million annually on pesticide imports, Bangladesh $20 million. At the other end of the frogs legs trade. the UK imported 110 tonnes of them in 1983. Increasing European travel has been developing British taste buds. Frogs legs can even he found in fish ‘n’ chip shops these days, the environmental havoc caused in South East Asia lost in the aroma of salt and vinegar.
Compassion in World Farming,
20 Lavant Street,
Petersfield GU32 3EW, UK.
The right to choose
There are about 20 million abortions in developing countries (excluding China) every year. Most of them are illegal. A large percentage of beds in maternity wards are occupied by women sick from self-inflicted abortions.
From The New York Times
'You are safer in a chemical plant than in your own home.'
Warren Anderson, chairman, Union Carbide.