New Internationalist

Briefly…

Issue 209

new internationalist
issue 209 - July 1990

BRIEFLY...

MEDIA

Crash TV
[image, unknown] A new trend in entertainment called Crash TV is drawing protests. Crash TV or action-orientated game shows which have violence and pain as their central themes are being produced in several countries -some would put the screening of boxing in the same category. In Rollergames, which went on the air in the US and Canada in September 1989, teams skating on a figure-eight path repeatedly elbow, slug, trip, throw and generally attempt to injure each other as part of the competition. At the end, representatives from each team compete in a 'Sudden Death' face-off where they attempt to throw each other into a pit of live alligators.

The International Coalition Against Violent Entertainment is asking governments to prohibit the importation of such violent game shows and introduce measures to control TV violence.

From Consumer Currents 123, 1990

 

RELIGION

Amazing grace
The Phnom Penh government has restored the right of Christians to meet for worship for the first time since all religious practice in Cambodia was banned by the Khmer Rouge 15 years ago. Phnom Penh legalized Buddhism and Islam after Vietnam ousted the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979, but Christians were still prohibited from meeting. Now Hungary. which lobbied the Cambodian government to recognize Christianity, is helping to raise funds to rebuild several churches in Phnom Penh.

From Far Eastern Economic Review, Vol. 147 No 13

 

EDUCATION

Literacy year
Nearly 1,000 million adults in the world, most of them women, can neither read nor write, according to the United Nations Educational. Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Launching International Literacy Year 1990, UNESCO's Director General said that the absolute number of illiterates had begun to decline for the first time in history.

However there was one area where advancement was particularly slow - the education of women and girls. Asia accounts for 666 million illiterates, three-quarters of the world's total. But the highest rate of illiteracy is in Africa, with 54 per cent of the adult population.

From Reuter

 

SOUTH AFRICA

Scotland's apartheid connection
A new report from the Scottish Education & Action for Development Campaign highlights companies profiting from apartheid whose decision-makers are based in Scotland.

Listed in the report are multinationals which have South African or Namibian subsidiaries. Also listed are the figures for total British trade with South Africa: they show the comfortable surplus of £270 million ($445.5 million) that is black South Africans' contribution to maintaining the British way of life.

From Supping With The Devil: Scotland's Apartheid Connection, available from SEAD, 29 Nicholson Square, Edinburgh EH8 9BX,Scotland, UK, at £4.25 inc p & p.

 

OVERSEAS AID

US U-turn
Having opposed foreign assistance to Vietnam for more than a decade, the US has done an about turn and advised the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to lift its lending embargo, which has been in place since 1985. It has asked the IMF to sell $1.2 billion in gold to 11 of the world's poorest nations to help them pay off debts to the fund.

The countries to be helped include Cambodia and Vietnam. Yet it was only as recently as September 1989 that Washington blocked Vietnam's re-entry into the international economic community, demanding that the country first contribute towards a comprehensive political settlement of the Cambodian conflict.

From Far Eastern Economic Review Vol 147 No 12

 

AGRICULTURE

The daily grind
Small diesel-driven milling machines, which do in five minutes what used to take four hours by hand, have liberated women in 15 villages in The Gambia from drudgery and led to a healthier diet for all.

Today, women take their millet to machines introduced four years ago under a project funded by the United Nations. It is ground by trained operators chosen by the community and the women pay 1.5 US cents a kilo.

Women from other villages walk for miles to make use of the West German machines. As yet only five per cent of Africa's villages have machines to grind coarse grain, according to an official of the UK-based Intermediate Technology Development Group.

Some women freed from their grinding tasks are growing maize, beans, rice or peanuts, bringing them a cash income for the first time. In the village of Faraba Banta, close to the Senegal border, the women have expanded the vegetable garden to grow nutritious food including cabbages, onions and tomatoes.

The benefits are not only financial. Physically exerting work during pregnancy has been shown to lead to smaller babies. Now healthier children should be born, and women will have more time to look after them as well as to grow food.

From South No 113 1990

 

HUMAN RIGHTS

Snuffing out rights
Colombian and Peruvian government campaigns against the cocaine industry have directly contributed to deteriorating human rights in both these countries. They are already among the most violent in the world. In 1989 3,211 people in Colombia and 2,750 in Peru died because of political violence, many by government forces and paramilitary death squads. The fate of another 400 Peruvians and 114 Colombians who disappeared remains unknown.

Government response to the cocaine threat has been to grant wide powers to the military to confront drug producers and traders. However, the measures adopted by the armed forces, instead of winning the support of the local people, tend to be repressive. All too often ordinary civilians are caught in the crossfire, particularly those active in opposition parties and popular movements. As both countries' security forces are using international anti-drugs aid for their operations it looks like such aid is directly contributing to the violation of citizen rights.

From Colombia Committee for Human Rights - Peru Support Group, 20 Compton Terrace, London N1 2UN, UK.

 

'In the US annually we lose 16 to I8 tons of topsoil per hectare
from farmland - two or three times the replacement rate...
A layer of topsoil eight inches deep produces
99 per cent of all the food we eat.'

Martin J Haigh vice president of the World Association of
Soil and Water Conservation (WASWC), in Earthwatch April 1990.

 

'Old age is not so bad - when you consider the alternative.'

Maurice Chevalier

 

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