The garbage left on Mount Everest became so obnoxious that Sir Edmund Hilary complained. His complaint was heard. One of the most elevated trash collections in the world has been organised by the Nepalese guides, trekking companies and international supporters. And more than a 1,000 bags of rubbish have been removed from the lower slopes of the mountain. ‘Unless we picked up the trash,’ garbage organisers explained, ‘people might not come here at all.’
Too bad those willing to pay so much and travel so far to appreciate the beauties of nature can’t think of others - and take their rubbish home with them.
From Contours Vol.2 No. I 1985
TB No. 1
Despite efforts to control the disease, tuberculosis is still India’s biggest killer disease. Half the world’s known TB cases are in the country. And 500,000 Indians die annually from the illness. More than 2.5 million fresh cases are reported every year, and estimates of undetected cases are double that.
From Asia week, 22 February, 1985
The Barclay’s Bank Shadow Annual Report estimates that since 1980 the bank has lost accounts with an annual turnover exceeding six million pounds sterling due to the boycott campaign. The accounts include those of nine British local authorities, a variety of Church organisations and internationally the Grenadan government, all Nigerian state organisations and the Caribbean Conference of Churches.
The shadow annual report details the intimate connection of Barclays with the apartheid system. The bank is the largest financier of the trade between Britain and South Africa, it has underwritten arms sales to Pretoria (though it claimed it did not know), encouraged overseas investment in the country and at one time bought £1 I million worth of shares in Sasol, the state oil corporation which produces oil from coal to evade the international petroleum embargo.
‘Barclays Bank claims it is a liberalising influence,’ the Report concludes. ‘But our investigations once more reveal this to be a sham. Barclays is Britain’s largest investor in racism in southern Africa.’
When is the official board of directors going to wake up to this and get out of the country?
Copies of Barclays Shadow Report 1985 available from ELTSA,
A peck of poison
How much of our fruit, vegetables and cereals are sprayed with pesticides? The answer 99 per cent. Yes, but surely it’s all been washed off by the rain by the time we buy it? Wrong. A Friends of the Earth (UK) survey found a third still contaminated when sold.
‘These days enough pesticides are sprayed onto vegetables to turn you into one,’ as the environmental action group so elegantly put it. They have started a Campaign for Pesticide Free Food wanting:
. limits on pesticide contamination of foods
. no spraying on food crops of chemicals suspected of causing cancer or birth defects
. labelling of foods to show the chemical residues or if they are pesticide free/organically grown.
Sounds useful. Otherwise say nothing, do nothing, vegetate.
Further information from Friends of the Earth, 377 City Road, London ECI V INA.
Ten years later
Time magazine, that upholder of the American way of life (and death), recently produced a special section entitled ‘Vietnam: Ten Years Later’. The Time writers had a tough job looking back on this imperial and military disaster for the US. Their task was not made easier, as the magazine had continually backed America’s military escalation during the war. Somehow they muddled through.
When the American troops withdrew in 1973, under the face-saving title of ‘Vietnam-ization’, the US government left its puppet, President Thieu, to continue the war. After this, Time naively finds, ‘The Northerners progress was weirdly effortless.’ Most editorial energy is concentrated on America’s 58,000 dead, 300,000 injured and the $150 billion spent. There are no figures of the Vietnamese dead or wounded. And Vietnamese financial losses are limited to the 3.5 tons of gold President Thieu was reported to have taken with him on his escape to Taipei, Taiwan.
A clear view of the war is very difficult, Time concludes. They do nothing to help matters with the superficial balance and deep bias they bring to the subject. They end their overview summary with such leading questions as: ‘Were the North Vietnamese austere and virtuous folk heroes or murderous, Stalinist totalitarians who committed barbarities far worse than those of the Americans and South Vietnamese? Were the Americans a collection of baby-killers, or basically honourable men doing their duty when the nation called?’ In their folksy way, they haven’t given up on Vietnam yet.
From Time, April 15, 1985
East Timor lives - and dies
Horrendous military repression by Indonesian soldiers who invaded East Timor in 1975 have reduced the local population of the country by more than 100,000. The Catholic Institute for International Relations has just published a new report on the country, independent from Portuguese rule for just a week in November 1975 before being annexed.
Timor is one of the most southern islands of the Indonesian archipelago, only 300 miles from Australia. East Timor makes up 7.000 of the 12,000 miles of Timor island. The population was an estimated 650.000 in 1974, while an Indonesian census put it at 550,000 by 1980. The 15 per cent drop is due to deaths from shooting, disease and hunger. But the nationalist guerillas are still active. Their courage is only matched by the timidity of overseas governments like Australia, New Zealand and Britain - who continue to provide overseas aid to Indonesia and avoid the embarrassing subject of East Timor. Witness Mrs Thatcher on her recent visit to Jakarta making a speech to President Suharto: When it comes to defending independence and freedom we are at one with you.’
The report ‘East Timor - Comment’ is available from:
India has 15 per cent of the world’s people but 30 per cent of the world’s illiterates. The country has the third largest number of engineers and doctors in the world. Yet of every 5.000 children who go to school, only 750 finish high school and one completes university. And while over one third of the nation’s schools have no school building, a like number have only one teacher.
From Bother, OXFAM, Jan/Feb. 1985.
Hoffman La Roche, the giant Swiss pharmaceutical company. is co-operating with the World Health Organization on a new antimalarial drug. The innovation, Fansimef. is to replace drugs becoming increasingly ineffective because of the infecting mosquito’s resistance. Fansimef is to be sold in least developed countries under the control of WHO and local governments - not through private drug wholesalers. Profit margins will be low, and those stricken with malaria could see all this as good news.
Front Business lnternational, February 1, 1985.