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[image, unknown] BRIEFLY...

[image, unknown] SEXISM[image, unknown]

Symbolic prejudice

Feminists regularly point out the way language is used to reinforce prejudices about women. But these examples of Chinese characters go a stage further: they show how the very symbols that form words are impregnated with prejudice.

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From: A Voice for Women, WCC

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[image, unknown] BIAS[image, unknown]

Balancing acts

During the Falklands/Malvinas war, the British media took delight in showing how Argentine children were fed military propaganda at school. But you don’t have to go to Latin America to find schoolchildren being indoctrinated.

The British government has produced four pamphlets/charts on military policy to be sent unsolicited and at public expense to every secondary school and local education authority in the country. Distribution began in May 1982.

Three of the items emanated from the Foreign Office and one from the Ministry of Defence which will also loan (free) a film to press its message home. All five items advance the defence policies of the Thatcher government at the expense of the main Opposition parties.

The Justice and Peace Commission in Nottingham. UK, were contacted by so many teachers worried by the political imbalance in the material that they have produced a 37-page analysis on these items in an attempt to get a little nearer the whole truth. Copies of their analysis are available for 50 pence ($1) from the Commission.

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[image, unknown] MULTINATIONALS[image, unknown]

Undemocratic power

The nation states are normally regarded as the principle actors on the world economic and political stage. Not so, argue F F Clairmonte of UNCTAD and John Cavanagh of WHO. They locate the centres of power in the shifting boardrooms of the transnational corporations.

In the third quarter of the 20th century. they say. the growth and nature of world trade has been transformed; TNC s now account for 80-90 per cent of trade in the West and the Third World.

From Development Forum, UN.

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[image, unknown] FOOD[image, unknown]

Don’t just boil it

Rice means survival for nearly half the world’s population. A third of the planet’s 4.5 billion people derive more than 50 per cent of their calorie intake from rice alone.

And rice is not just for eating. Rice straw can be used to make brooms or thatch roofs. Rice bran is fed to livestock or turned into cooking oil. The husks are burned for fuel. According to the Los Angeles Tunes, rice helps produce energy cells for solar power systems.

From World Development Forum, Vol. 1, No. 7.

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[image, unknown] AUSTRALIA[image, unknown]

Airmailed brides

‘The sexiest girls in the world by airmail.’ That’s a catch-phrase from an advertisement for mail-order Filipina brides for Australian men.

Recent years have seen a dramatic rise in the number of cross-cultural ‘introduction agencies’. For a fee ranging from $50 to $600, the agencies introduce couples with a view to marriage. Video tapes have now been added to the penpal system, and so have ‘bride-tours’, where Australian men travel to the Philippines to pick themselves out a wife.

In 1981 there were less than 2,000 married Filipina women in Australia. By 1982. the figure had more than quadrupled.

The agencies don’t prepare the couples for the problems that arise from their cultural differences, from the often enormous age differences between bride and groom or from their unreal expectations (the Australian men are almost invariably loners who dislike emancipated Australian women). When the marriages break up, as they frequently do. the Filipina girl has nowhere to go. Some are driven to prostitution.

The Australian Press generally presents the issue differently: as a marriage market that provides Filipina girls a passport to freedom and to a land of milk and honey.

From Asian Bureau Australia, April 1983.

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[image, unknown] NORTH-SOUTH[image, unknown]

Bangladesh exports drugs

Depressing stories of multinational companies shovelling expensive and unnecessary drugs into the Third World countries are a dime a dozen. For once, here’s an encouraging drugs story with the drugs moving from the Third World to the West.

Bangladesh set up its own drug company. Gonoshasthaya Pharmaceuticals Limited (GPL), in order to produce good, cheap drugs for common diseases (see NI No. 116). Now the Dutch Ministry of Development Co-operation has placed an order worth $25.000 with GPL. It’s a start.

From IOCU newsletter, May 1983.

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[image, unknown] HEALTH[image, unknown]

Muddy buffaloes and flowerpots

The malaria-carrying mosquito prefers water buffalo to human beings for its lunch, reports the Baltimore Sass. That’s one reason for the incidence of malaria increasing in the monsoon season. The water buffaloes wallow in pools of rainwater and get covered in mud. Mosquitos don’t like mud so they turn to their second choice exposed human skin. Health researcher David Nalin suggests that villagers wash the mud off their water buffaloes who survive malaria very well.

If muddy buffaloes don’t help, neither do flowerpots. In Singapore. say’s the New Scientist, unwary citizens who allow mosquitoes to breed in stagnant water in flowerpots have to pay heavy fines.

And researchers at London’s Royal Entomological Society have estimated that the central cemetery in Caracas. the Venzuelan capital, could support 50 million mosquito larvae in its 190,000 flowerpots.

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[image, unknown] MEDIA[image, unknown]

Lost innocence

A survey on television violence undertaken by the Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) has found that Malaysian viewers are exposed to an average of four killings. 24 guns. 14 gunshots and 38 physical blows per day.

Asked by CAP what they would do to a criminal. 12 out of 50 children surveyed answered: ‘Shoot him dead.’ Other suggestions from these innocent lips: box, beat, wall him up, poke him with a knife, hit him with a bottle, hang him or put him in a cage.

From IOCU newsletter, May 1983.

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‘Nature heals, the doctor nurses.’
Paracelsus, l6th century radical physician

‘Peace cannot be kept by force.
It can only be achieved by understanding.’
Albert Einstein

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New Internationalist issue 127 magazine cover This article is from the September 1983 issue of New Internationalist.
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