New Internationalist

Briefly…

Issue 208

new internationalist
issue 208 - June 1990

BRIEFLY...

ANIMAL RIGHTS

Death on the Nile
A new twist in the gruesome story of the trade in frogs' legs from developing countries was discovered in London when a British Airways flight, en route for Geneva, was found to be transporting frogs from Egypt - alive.

A vet who examined the frogs found that they were jammed into knotted nylon bags which were in turn loaded into 200 wicker baskets. The frogs were unable to move and many suffocated. In all more than 3,000 could have died.

According to an article in the UK 's Observer newspaper, one Egyptian entrepreneur, nicknamed 'the Frog Prince', employs a team of hunters. Captured frogs are brought to a specially constructed reservoir, where up to five million are matured before being caught and flown out. Around 35 tonnes of frogs are exported from Egypt each month, mainly to France. Because of increased demand, hunting may soon expand to the upper reaches of the Nile and beyond - into the Sudan and Ethiopia. Such hunting can have serious side-effects as the insects previously eaten by frogs multiply unchecked, devastating crops and spreading disease. Nevertheless, for the 10,000 hunters employed in Egypt at the height of the season, the short-term gain makes it all worthwhile. A good frog catcher can earn more in a day than a university graduate earns in a month.

From Agscene No 98 1990. More information from: Compassion in World Farming, 20 Lavant Street, Petersfleld, Rants GU32 382W

 

UNITED STATES

[image, unknown] Promises, promises

The Problems

· Nearly 150 million people in the United States currently live in urban areas where the air fails to meet minimum health standards. The EPA estimates 3,000 cancer cases per year from air toxics.

· At least 275 air toxics are known to he emitted by industrial facilities. The EPA has only regulated 7 of them.

· Because of nitrogen-oxide and sulphur-dioxide emissions, rain and fog in some states have the acidity of battery acid.

 

The Promises

· Twenty years from now, "every American in every city in America will breathe clean air."

· "The time for action on clean air and acid rain is now."

 

The Record

· Under the president's Clean Air Act, cities that fail to meet standards are simply reclassified to a new problem level with corresponding lower standards and extended deadlines fur compliance.

· His Clean Air Act calls for reducing nitrogen-oxide emissions by 2 million tons by the year 2000. Given the estimated increase in emissions from new sources, this will mean a net increase of 1 million tons of nitrogen oxide.

· Instead of the ''best available control technologies,'' the bill provides for using the "maximum achievable control technology based on cost and feasibility''- at the discretion of the EPA.

From Mother Jones. Vol 15 No 3

 

CHILE

Revenge attacks
Only ten days after Christian Democrat Patricio Aylwin was sworn in as Chile's first civilian president in 16 years, revenge attacks began against the military men who ruled the country under the dictatorship of General Pinochet. Two men opened fire in the Santiago office of Gustavo Leigh, 69, former air force commander-in-chief and one of the members of the junta that overthrew President Salvador Allende Gossens in 1973. Leigh was critically wounded along with an associate - retired general Enrique Ruiz. Organizations from both left and right took credit for the attack, which confounded hopes of a peaceful shift to democracy. The Left wants justice for the military's supposed crimes, while the Right believe they are traitors for handing over power.

The conservative local press has predicted a campaign of 'selective terrorism' against members of the Pinochet regime.

From Time Vol 135 No 14 1990

 

MULTINATIONALS

Buying greeness
Corporate giants are boosting the coffers of environmental groups in return for influence and a greener image. 'These corporations claim to be environmentalists but they are buying off groups who are opposing them,' says David Rapaport of Greenpeace. In 1988 Chevron and Exxon gave $50,000 each to the World Wildlife Fund/Conservation Foundation. Other donors included Philip Morris, Mobil and Morgan Guaranty Trust. The National Wildlife Federation, which promotes cooperation between industry leaders and environmentalists, recently added three new members to its Corporate Council. It cost each company $10,000 to join and among the 14 members are Arco, Dupont and Ciba Geigy. Fast-food chains -some of the worst contributors to litter and waste - are also keen to be green. Only after considerable agonizing did the Sierra Club turn down $700,000 from McDonalds, who wanted to sponsor an environmental education project. The Audubon Society, another environmental fund, were made a similar offer and refused.

From Mother Jones, Vol 15 No 3

 

FOOD

Nuclear triumph
The British and Australian governments are at odds with each other over food irradiation. If Britain legalizes irradiation this year, as intended, it will be a major triumph for the nuclear industry. But Australia is still sceptical. The European Parliament agrees with the Australians - it voted in October last year to impose a ban from the end of December 1992.

The dosage used in the food irradiation process is up to 100 million times greater than chest X-rays. But even this is no guarantee of eliminating all bacteria, fungi and insects that can spoil food or cause disease.

Bob Hawke's government introduced a three-year moratorium on the manufacture, sale and import of irradiated food in December 1989. The Consumer Affairs Minister. Mr Nick Bolus, says the country's trading partners 'remain unconvinced about the safety of the process. Australia's international reputation as a provider of high-quality fresh produce could be threatened if irradiation was introduced. 'While promoters - and the United Nations expert committee - maintain it is safe, the World Health Organization has reopened investigations into irradiated food and aims to produce a comprehensive scientific report.

From Consumer Lifelines. Irradiation No 36/90

 

ARMS

Bargain bazaar
With major reductions in European military forces pending, sophisticated second-hand systems at discount prices could flood the arms markets in other parts of the world -especially in Asia, where countries are continuing to build up their armed forces.

Much of the US's surplus front-line equipment from Europe is now being offered at huge discounts - as low as five per cent of the market price for equivalent new systems. Thailand and the Philippines, for example, have been offered the main US battle tank, the M60A1, at $115,000 each, down from the previous price of well over one million dollars.

From Far Eastern Economic Review. Vol 147 No 13 1990

 

WOMEN

Sexist neglect
Ten years after the United Nations formally adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, 44 of the UN's 159 member countries have still not ratified or signed it. All but two of these are from the Third World, the exceptions being Albania and South Africa.

From UN Division for the Advancement of Women, Vienna

'There is a sort of joke about girls: they are called "Toyotas" because
the market price for a young bride equals a new car for her family.'

A quote from a civil servant in the Pacific islands country of Vanuatu.

 

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