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new internationalist
issue 174 - August 1987


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Nelson adds stature
Nelson's column, Trafalgar Square, London is presently shrouded in tarpaulins and scaffolding. A proposed poster campaign, see illustration, suggests that the old Nelson's column (as in Horatio) should be turned into a new Nelson's column (as in Mandela) during the renovations. For the column squarely faces the graceful neo-Palladian facade of the South African embassy.

The proposal is for a column three times its present height, each inch representing one day Mandela has spent in prison. At the top would be a blackened gold leaf orb, covered with thorns, precariously balanced above South Africa House. Four lions (African) guard the base, so there's no need for any change there. Anyone wanting to learn more about this poster project should contact Nick Coombe, White-cross Studios, 2 Dufferin Ave., London ECl.

From Creative Review, Vol. 7, No. 6 1987


The NIOB Syndrome
The acronym? 'Not In Our Backyard',. a reaction often found in communities where toxic waste is to be disposed. This time the waste is nerve gas. Although only used for the first time in 1984 by Iraq on Iranian troops, it has been on the weapons scene for a long time. The US army, reports Mother Jones, has some 400,000 tons of the stuff in its aging arsenal and is facing the largest hazardous-chemical-waste-disposal headache ever encountered.

In addition to being effective killers, the sarin and VX gases found in the nerve gas are highly corrosive. Anywhere from dozens to a hundred leaks are acknowledged annually. To deal with the problem and make way for the new generation of nerve gases being produced, the US Army plans to build eight incineration plants. The first of these is being constructed at Johnston Atoll, South Pacific.

Americans are less concerned about dumping in the Pacific than about the next incineration plant planned for Richmond, Kentucky. 'The permissible emissions standards for burning nerve gas were determined not according to studies of what level would be harmful,' a concerned citizen of Madison County is quoted as saying, 'but according to how sensitive their detection system is.'

Even if the US stockpile is destroyed without a hitch, there are tons of nerve gas in the stockpiles of 14 other countries. 'When their shells and warheads start to rot through in the 1990s, will Iraq and Syria spend millions of dollars for hermetic furnaces, explosion-containment walls and pollution scrubbers? Or will they dump on Mother Nature', asks Mother Jones.

From Mother Jones, Vol. XII. No. IIl 1987


Bench remarks
The Turkish judiciary's view of marriage was recently illuminated by a case where a woman was applying for divorce on the grounds that her husband beat her. The judge remarked 'A woman should not be left without a stick on her back and food in her stomach.' In case the view from the bench was still unclear he added that in his view women 'should be beaten regularly'.

However for the first time in Turkish history, such attitudes have been strongly challenged. A group of 20 feminists have started proceedings to sue the judge for his remarks.

From Turkey Newsletter. Issue 72-73 1987


Bofors bribes
The state-owned Swedish radio, no less, reported on April 15 that Bofors, the largest Swedish arms manufacturer, had won a huge order from New Delhi late last year by paying $16 million in bribes to members of India's ruling Congress party. The operation was delicately code-named 'Lotus'. After Rajiv Gandhi held a long cabinet meeting which ended with the vigorous denial of the accusation, Swedish radio not only repeated the charge but added that it had documentary proof of the payoffs in four instalments to Indian accounts in Swiss banks, and that it had also checked with the bankers for Bofors.

The deal involved supplying 400 self-propelled 155 mm howitzers worth $1,300 million. The bribes might have been necessary to clinch the deal because soon afterwards the Indian press implied the guns were sub-standard. Whilst required to have an effective range of 24 km extendable to 30 km to match the US howitzers supplied to the Pakistani artillery, Indian army exercises found the Bofors shells could hardly reach 21 km.

From Far Eastern Economic Review, 30 April, 1987


Cloud with a lucrative lining
Concern about AIDS is relatively new in Japan, but 1987 has seen it catch on so strongly that it is driving Tokyo's stock market to new highs. Companies which might benefit from the ADS-related alarm have seen their shares soar since mid-January when Japan's first woman AIDS victim was reported. AIDS-related stock has been responsible for 10 per cent of market gains this year.

Understandably, pharmaceutical manufacturers, medical equipment makers and condom makers have seen their share prices flourish. But investors' passion for AIDS-related stock has sent them searching into strange backwaters. Nikkatsu, for example, which produces pornographic films and videotapes, found their shares soared 53 per cent in the sixth months up to April this year. Why? Investors apparently think the AIDS scare will keep some swingers at home.

From the Wall Street Journal. April 14, 1987

'We're always asking ourselves, we housewives, what did we do that we have to pay this foreign debt? Have our children eaten too well or gone to the best schools? Worn the best clothes? Or have our salaries been too high? Have we better houses? We all shout in unison, No! So who has benefitted? Why are we the ones who have to pay that debt?'

Dominga Valasquez Federation of Shantytown Housewives, Bolivia.

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New Internationalist issue 174 magazine cover This article is from the August 1987 issue of New Internationalist.
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