50,000 plane crashes’ worth
‘On May 10 1979, a DC-l0 at Chicago’s O’Hare airport lost an engine on take-off,’ said Pan American Health Organization Official Fred M. Reiff. News coverage was intense throughout the world, DC-l0s were temporarily grounded at great expense.
‘During the same hour that the DC-10 crashed in Chicago, six times as many children under five died of diarrhoea in the developing world, Imagine the publicity if a DC-10 crashed every ten minutes, 24 hours a day. 365 days a year. Yet an equivalent number of children die each year of largely preventable diarrhoea, without public notice,’
From World Development Forum, Vol. 1, No, 17
Women pay the price
A third of all criminal cases now being brought before Namibia’s courts concern members of the armed forces, Many involve rape and assault on black women by soldiers.
In one case, three white youths beat and kicked a young black woman whom they found asleep in their car, then dumped her unconscious body in the veld where she died of cold, The ringleader was sentenced to a fine of R,250 ($225) or 50 days, and a further period of imprisonment conditionally suspended. His friends were not even charged.
The social disruption of war, poverty and unemployment have produced a familiar pattern of a steep rise of prostitution in the town and the army camps. Unwanted babies are supported by desperate women selling illegal liquor and sex, They are regularly beaten up.
From X-ray, July/Aug 83
Twinning towns with China
Twinning towns in Britain with towns in Europe is a familiar activity. But there’s never been any town-twinning between Britain and China - till now.
Britain’s fourth largest city, Sheffield, has been negotiating for several years to form a link with the city of Anshan in Northern China.
As well as forging links with industry and commerce, the Chinese authorities are said to be eager to learn about pollution control: Sheffield, dubbed ‘the cleanest industrial city in Europe’, is a world leader in this field. In Peking worried authorities have recently stopped all further industrial development until the growing pollution problem has been halted.
From City of Sheffield press release
A whiter shade
Zimbabwean authorities are planning tough new restrictions on the content, advertising and sale of skin-lightening creams, mainly used by black women. Officials at the Drug Control Council have said that the preparations can cause irreversible skin damage and criticise the creams as remnants of the colonial past when ‘white was better’.
Manufacturers will now have to limit the content of hydroquinone, the active ingredient that suppresses the formation of melanin, the pigment that makes African skins dark.
From Newslink Africa, 0606/83
A handful of light
Sir John Wilson, founder of the Royal Commonwealth Society for the Blind, had some inspiring things to say in a recent interview with Commonwealth Currents magazine:
‘There has been extraordinary progress. Last year alone, in 2,000 Indian villages we restored sight to 172,000 blind people.
‘It thrills me to see, say, 700 people who came to the eye camp blind going out seeing. It is a day of miracles. I remember asking a doctor how a child was receiving the idea of sight. The doctor said: ‘He put out his hand to grasp a handful of light.’
‘Over the next five years, we will be protecting the sight of 66,000 children who could have gone blind from xerophthalmia (nutritional blindness).’
Ashes to ashes
Ever since smoking was linked to cancer, nearly twenty years ago, researchers have been hunting for carcinogens among the 3,600-plus chemicals in tobacco smoke. But some doctors now think there may be another, more insidious culprit in smoke than the carcinogens: radiation.
Dr Joseph di Franza, of the University of Massachusetts, USA, estimates that ‘radiation could account for about half of all lung cancers in smokers’. He reckons that a person smoking a packet and a half of cigarettes a day will get as much radiation in the lungs as the skin would get from 300 chest X-rays per year.
And in Japan’s Tohoku University, medical researchers have found that the volume of blood circulating in the brain decreases as one grows older - or as one smokes more. So if you’re a heavy smoker - watch out for signs of early senility.
From American Health and Asahi Evening News.
General Murdani. Commander of the Indonesian Army Forces, has publicly acknowledged that specially trained killer squads from the security forces are responsible for hundreds of killings in several Indonesian cities, The justification offered is that the security forces are ‘combating crime’, Ali Said, the Minister of Justice, commented: ‘It is better to have a hundred criminals dead than to have a hundred thousand anxious citizens.
Even those who approve of capital punishment may balk at the military’s disregard for the law. An eyewitness account which appeared as a letter in the International Herald Tribune describes one such official murder: ‘Six men, all clearly military, dragged a suspect to a garbage dump, drew knives and methodically stabbed him to death while people watched from the road above and listened to the man’s screams.
In April, police in Medan were instructed to compile a list of ‘potential prison inmates’. A list of no fewer than 900 names was drawn up, complete with addresses and photographs.
Adnan Buyong Nasution, chairman of the Foundation of Legal Aid, has spoken out in protest at the ‘bodies left lying in the streets or thrown into the river; later a report would appear (which) confirmed that it was a criminal who had been caught and shot trying to run away or for attacking the authorities, This kind of thing was happening every day.’
Says Nasution: ‘It makes me very sad to see that people don’t realise the impact of these actions, The man in the street feels pleased because quick and resolute action is being taken. If we tolerate these actions because the chosen victims are criminals - mind you, they are not all criminals - then it is only a question of time before they decide to pick on, say, political dissidents. Those in power want society to accept violence as a means, as a norm.
From Tapol bulletin No. 58
The weakened sex
A World Health Organization statistical Report shows that about half of all women in developing countries - 230 out of 464 million - are anaemic, They suffer from a deficiency of one or more essential nutrients, chiefly of iron. Among pregnant women the proportion rises to nearly two-thirds.
From WHO features No. 84