East Timor enquiry
Expressions of public concern in Australia about Indonesian offensives in East Timor have got an Australian Senate enquiry off the ground. The enquiry is to investigate the human rights and conditions of the people of East Timor, and what the United Nations and the Australian government should be doing in response.
Said Senator Alan Missen: ‘Probably no subject has figured so largely in my correspondence in recent months.’
From Asian Bureau Australia Newsletter No. 62.
Scientists working with the Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research have developed the first steps of a malarial vaccine. The Institutes director, Dr Michael Alpers, said that the new serum contained antigens common to all strains of malarial parasites found in PNG.
From Niusleta Vol 5 No. 3.
Red carpet for foreign capital
A piece of legislation that slipped in with minimum publicity early this year: Havana has opened its doors to any investor interested in coming to Cuba Future investors in joint ventures with the state can:
· own up to 49 per cent of the venture — or more in special cases:
· repatriate profits in full:
· avoid paying any tax on dividends, gross income and executive salaries:
· secure their supplies from overseas if local companies aren’t competitive. Everything is negotiable: access to credit. export quotas.
What would Che Guevara have said?
From Latin America Weekly Report WR-82-14.
Fortune in oil
The major oil companies increased their profits by 128 per cent from 1978-80 while profits from non-oil companies remained unchanged, says a US congressional committee report called The Changing Distribution of Industrial Profits: the oil and gas industry within the Fortune 500, 1978-80. The Fortune 500 are the world’s 500 largest business operations in terms of sales turnover.
The report also reveals that oil company profits, which used to account for less than 25 per cent of Fortune 500 profits, now add up to more than 40 per cent. Exxon made almost a billion dollars in profits per month in 1980.
From Multinational Monitor (USA) February 1982.
Rejecting the rat-race
Have the West Germans, of all people, started to lose faith in the value of career success? A generation ago the very question would have seemed heresy to a nation which has prided itself that while others worked to live, Germans lived to work.
But according to a new research study. instead of advancement, professional status and money, many Germans wanted jobs which offered more free time, less stress and a chance to concentrate on ‘post-material values’.
Professor Lutz von Rosensteil noted that a drift is evident. especially among the young, towards preserving the environment, social co-determination and 'ideas. not money'.
From Consumer Currents No. 44.
Green light for sex
Q: What do you call people who rely on natural family planning?
That’s the old joke. But the new York Times reports on a new bedside computer that should improve the reliability of natural methods. The computer, about the size of a pocket calculator, keeps an extremely accurate record of a woman’s temperature and signals with a green light when a woman is infertile. Millions of couples who dislike artificial contraception for religious reasons may be grateful — as long as they can afford the US $40 it is expected to cost.
Uniting against pests
The fifth International Congress of Pesticide Chemistry will be held in Kyoto, Japan from 29 August to 4 September 1982. A good place for environmentalists to register concern? Congress contact: Dr Thomasa Misato, Institute of Physical and Chemical Research, WakoShi, Saitama 351, Japan.
Three Mile Island — the good news
At the beginning of the year, the US Court of Appeals ruled against the restart of one of the undamaged reactor plants at the Three Mile Island nuclear power station. The station has now been closed since March 1979 when, in the worst accident in US nuclear history, the first stages of a meltdown occurred. The Appeals judgement has stalled all further plant activity until the National Nuclear Regulatory Commission has studied the effects of the restart on the psychological health of neighbouring residents and the wellbeing of the surrounding communities’. Local groups opposing the restart. Including People Against Nuclear Energy’ from Middle-town Pennsylvania who brought the action before the Court of Appeals, have radiated enthusiasm for the ruling. An Environmental Impact Statement, which would take a year to draw up, is now likely before the power plant can be activated again.
From World Information Service on Energy, No. 121.920
Big bad baby boy
In early 1976, Peruvian fisherman noticed that several kinds of fish that live in the usually cool, coastal waters off Peru had disappeared. Much warmer waters had suddenly moved in.
It happens every year for a few weeks: the fisherman call the period El Nino’ (baby boy) because it typically occurs right after Christmas. But this time it lasted for months. The Peruvian fishing industry came to a virtual halt causing severe hardship.
Scientists now know that a major El Nino recurs every few years and that it is part of a vast climatic variation affecting the Pacific Ocean, the overlying atmosphere, and even distant lands like India. For example, an El Nino in Peru seems to presage a scant monsoon in Asia. So far, international weather observations haven’t been detailed enough for confident forecasting. But scientists are optimistic about the future of global climate prediction which could save much local misery.
From World Paper March 1982
Soldiers or nurses
For every dollar spent by ten Asian countries (Burma, India, South Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Nepal and Sri Lanka) between 1975 and 1979. on average:
· 20 cents went to the military'
Small is expensive
In Africa, imports of agricultural machinery in 1978 cost US 52 billion. Well, heavy goods don't come cheap. But a closer look shows that $300 million was spent on hand-tools alone, highlighting a real need: for locally produced implements better adapted to local conditions.
From Development Forum, February 1982.