New Internationalist

Briefly…

Issue 213

new internationalist
issue 213 - November 1990

BRIEFLY...

SOUTH AFRICA

Ratners ends apartheid gold
Ratners, the giant British chain of jewellery stores, have agreed to stop selling jewellery made with South African gold. This comes after political pressure and picketing throughout the country by End Loans to South Africa and other anti-apartheid groups. The action had been taken after Nelson Mandela's call to intensify sanctions and for people to boycott South African goods in a final effort to end apartheid.

Ratners are the largest British retailers of gold jewellery with 31 per cent of the market and recently acquired a large retail chain in the US. Until now, they have bought most of their jewellery from Italy which sources 91 per cent of its gold from South Africa.

South Africa earns about 40 per cent of its export income from gold but produces only one-third of the world's supplies. Until the Ratners decision almost all gold jewellery sold in Britain was made with South African gold.

Press release from End Loans to South Africa, c/o Methodist Church. 56 Camberwell Road, London SE5 OFN UK.

 

COMMODITIES

Cocoa conflicts
Cocoa is the third largest foreign-currency earner for Third World countries after coffee and sugar. It is exclusively produced in tropical countries and mostly consumed in the industrialized North. The cocoa trade provides a stark reflection of the power relations behind South-North trade.

Until recently, West Africa was the pivot of the cocoa trade, producing the highest quality and the most beans. However throughout the 1980s prices have declined in a glutted market. With prices at their lowest level for 14 years, small farmers are turning away from the crop, even though it is often their only source of income and their governments' only source of foreign exchange.

Without the foreign currency to service their debts, countries like Ghana, Ivory Coast, Gabon and Senegal face ruin, at a time when IMF-imposed austerity programmes appear to be stimulating social disorder throughout the region.

From Food Matters Worldwide No 6 1990

[image, unknown]

 

RACISM

Canada's backlash
Large lapel buttons have been selling across the country depicting a white man in front of three other men: an Oriental wearing a coolie hat, a Sikh in a turban and a black man clutching a spear. The caption reads: 'Who is the minority in Canada?'. The button is just one of several items attacking minority groups, according to an article in Maclean's. Others include a handbill in Manitoba saying that the game-hunting season has been cancelled due to an animal shortage. In place of the usual hunt, the handbill says, 'there will be an open season on Indians.These welfare recipients must be thinned out every three years.'

From World Press Review. Vol. 37 No 6

 

JUNKFOOD

Delinquent poison
The removal of foods with excessive amounts of added sugar, artificial colourings and preservatives has worked a mini-miracle' on many children with severe behavioural problems. Hyperactivity and aggression was defused within days of radical diet changes, according to Dr Peter Mansfield in Which? Way to Health. Junk food, he said, could be affecting the behaviour of 10 per cent of children in the UK. Parents with problem children should stop them from taking canned drinks, coloured squash, sweets, biscuits and cake for a week.

From Which? Way to Health

 

COMMUNICATIONS

No more aphrodisiacs
The sale of non-prescription drugs promoted as aphrodisiacs has been banned in the US from January 8, 1990. Among the ingredients contained in these products are: anise, cantharides (or 'Spanish fly', a chemical derived from the dried bodies of beetles), estrogens, fennel, ginseng, golden seal, Korean ginseng, licorice, mandrake, minerals, nux vomica, sarsaparilla, strychnine and vitamins.

The US Food and Drug Administration has no evidence to show that any of the materials traditionally used as aphrodisiacs are either effective or safe.

Only male sex hormones, which are potent compounds associated with potentially serious side-effects, are known to influence libido.

From HA1 News, No 52, 1990

 

THE SEA

Driftnet holocaust
Asia's driftnet fishing fleets may be slaughtering more than 100,000 dolphins a year in the Pacific Ocean, according to Greenpeace. 'It's what I would call an ecological holocaust,' said the leader of the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior II. The ship is monitoring 20 driftnet boats from Japan and Taiwan in the Tasman Sea between Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand.

 Environmentalists have dubbed driftnet fishing the 'Wall of Death' because the fine-mesh nets hang like deadly curtains for up to 50 km. In the North Pacific Ocean, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea have more than 1,000 of these vessels fishing at the height of the season. They set something like 50,000 km of net a night, enough to go around the equator one and a quarter times.

From Reuters UK

 

ARMS TRADE

Down but not out
Within the next 25 years, about 360 nuclear-power plants throughout the world will be decommissioned or 'retired'. The question then arises 'What to do with them?' There is no definite answer to this question, says Cynthia Pollock Shea of the US environmental research group, Worldwatch Institute. 'Dismantling them will require special techniques not yet perfected, and new sites to store the radioactive wastes, she warns. The total price tag is likely to range between $63 billion and $470 billion. 'Because many of the plant components are contaminated with radiation, the structures simply cannot be demolished with a wrecking ball,' said Cynthia Pollock Shea.

From Consumer Currents, No. 124 1990

'Tobacco kills two and a half million people a year worldwide:
equivalent to two or three jumbo jet-loads a day.'

Dr John Roberts, WHO Tobacco or Health project

 

'BAT Uganda does not believe that cigarette smoking is harmful to health.'

British American Tobacco (BAT) Uganda in a letter to Uganda's Director of Medical Services.

 

'It is not a good idea to keep one's butler in service for as long as 70 years, as was the case of this servant. No wonder he was cantankerous. It is usually a good rule of thumb to retire them on a pension after say 60 years' devoted service, to be succeeded by their sons who have been under-butlers for some 30 years or so, thus making the transition as smooth as possible.'

Letter in the United Kingdom's Daily Telegraph.

 

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