A high-protein grain cultivated for centuries by Inca tribes in the Andes could help solve world hunger problems, according to the US group marketing it. Quinua ‘is about 18 per cent high-quality protein and is superior in food value to most other grains in the world’. (Wheat contains 11 per cent protein and corn just 3.5 per cent). Quinua can be grown in extremely poor soil and resists the most severe climates.
From Business Times. Malaysia
Who’s watching whom?
Nestlé hired Rafael Pagan to help counter the international boycott of its products. Now Pagan has started his own company aimed at ‘forewarning companies ... about activist initiatives’. He and 17 other full-time workers will sell ‘intelligence ... to protect business’s bottom line’ from public pressure for change. Nestlé and Campbell Soup have already signed long-term contracts.
From Consumer Currents
Is it normal for women to commit suicide? asks Manushi, the Indian feminist magazine, which has been campaigning against two recent court judgements in Delhi. The two cases were very similar. In each case the woman had been burned to death in her husband’s house, and had given several dying declarations accusing her husband and in-laws of having killed her. Yet both the accused were acquitted of murder - the judges’ reasoning being that, since the victim was unhappy in her marriage, she might have committed suicide and given a false declaration in order to take revenge. One of the victims had marks of strangulation round her neck and gave her dying declaration five times to police officers, a magistrate and a doctor. The other had, testified neighbours, been beaten severely with rods and branded with heated irons by her husband since their marriage, and people saw her being dragged into the house by her hair on the night of her death. The judge’s argument in this second case included the contention that since her husband was dark while his wife was fair and beautiful, he would have ‘felt lucky’ to have such a wife and would not ‘normally’ have liked to kill her. Manushi itself has filed appeals in Delhi High Court since the victims’ families could not afford to take action and it believes that it is vital that the law’s bias against women is revealed.
Britain and the USA are the least generous donors of official aid in the Western world. Britain gave 0.33 per cent of Gross National Product in 1984 compared with 0.59 per cent when the Conservatives took office in 1979; while the US gives even less (0.24 per cent). The rest of the Western world gives an average of 0.47 per cent, compared with the United Nations’ recommended minimum of 0.7 per cent of GNP.
From Oxfam 2000 Newsletter, August 1985
Drought is not new and although it cannot be accurately forecast in which years the rains will fail, the countries which have been, and will repeatedly be, afflicted by drought are known from records dating back several thousand years. But if drought is a predictable danger then famine can be prevented - as in the seven lean years for which Joseph made provision in the Bible. The drought in Egypt on that occasion resulted from failure of the rains in the Ethiopian highlands.
From CUSO Journal, July 1985
A new America
For the first time in American history there are more people over 65 than there are teenagers. One out of four Americans is now over 50 and by the turn of the century more than 100,000 Americans will be 100 years or older, three times today’s number. But it is not only age patterns which are changing in the US. Single people now account for 23 per cent of all households, and one in five children (one in two black children) lives in a one-parent household. Since 1970 the number of women having their first child at more than 25 years of age has more than doubled. And a quarter of all American women of childbearing age are now likely to remain childless. This contributed to the lowest fertility rate in US history - 1.7 births per thousand women of childbearing age in 1976.
From Time magazine
The World Bank is funding a project for the development of a new elementary school curriculum in the Philippines - and the Marcos regime is using part of the $100 million fund to test a scheme training children not only for military service but also for law enforcement. It forms part of the internal crackdown and a move towards authoritarianism that follows the surge in support and strength of the Communist NPA guerillas. Parents, students and teachers have formed a nation-wide coalition in protest.
From Asian Bureau Australia
An abortion pill is being clinically tested at Edinburgh University in Scotland. The drug has been developed by Roussel, French subsidiary of the German drug giant Hoechst. The company claims that it could provide an alternative to the contraceptive pill and to surgical abortion, and hopes to have it on the market in three years. It has yet to be proven safe, though.
From Health Action International News. August 1985
Oxfam UK has launched a new partnership with Friends’ Provident Life Office aimed at offering people the chance to invest their money ‘ethically’. Called the Oxfam Stewardship Fund, it requires a minimum investment of £1,000 but guarantees that none of the money will go to companies connected with, for instance, South Africa, the arms trade, or the tobacco and alcohol industries.
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The North American Passenger Pigeon was probably the most numerous species of bird that has ever existed. In 1813 a flock of these took three full days to pass over the home of a man in Kentucky. Yet within a hundred years humans had hunted the bird to extinction. The hunting technique involved tying birds to a perch (or stool) with their eyelids sewn together. Their fluttering lured hundreds of other birds into a net. This was the origin of the phrase ‘stoolpigeon.
Too young at 24
Zanzibar has passed a controversial law aimed at putting a brake on premarital sex. The Moslem island is part of the union of Tanzania but has the right to enact laws just for its own residents. Sex with any unmarried woman under 25 has been outlawed; as has sex with any student, regardless of their age or gender. The penalty for a man making an under-age woman pregnant is five years imprisonment in a ‘reformation school’ and for the woman herself two years. The elderly, brought up under strict Islam ethics, have generally welcomed the law but many young people, not surprisingly, see it as ‘too harsh’. Others contend that it will encourage the use of the Pill and cause more backstreet abortions.