new internationalist
issue 176 - October 1987



Crying shame
The cost of tear gas is a matter of some concern in South Korea. In the anti-government protests between 10 and 26 June, the police in their characteristic Darth Vader uniforms fired more than 20,000 rounds a day. This totalled some 351,200 rounds at a cost of seven million dollars. Their trigger fingers are obviously becoming more itchy; last year they took nine months to fire off 313,000 rounds at demonstrators with a total bill to the Korean taxpayer of $6.7 million. In 1989 Seoul plans to host the Olympic Game...out of doors?

Information but not comment from Far Eastern Economic Review, 9 July 1987


Worth a million
Six directors of a fund management company in the City of London, Mercury Asset Management received more than one million pounds ($ 1,600,000) each as wages for their last year's work. The Chairman, Peter Stormonth Darling was paid £1,050,000 ($1,680,000), but the highest paid director who was unnamed in the annual company report, received £1,265,000 ($2,024,000), Besides the top six, coming in just below the million pounds for their year's labour were two directors grossing £900,000 ($1,440,000). Of course these wages do not include the company's pension contributions to the individuals concerned. But to be fair, they include special compensation for loss of share options in the parent, Mercury International, when it was floated as a separate company earlier this year.

Information but not comment from The Guardian, 7 July, 1987


It's the same the whole world over
The growing divide between rich and poor might be expected in those bastions of the New Right, Thatcher's Britain and Reagan's US - but Australia? Bob Hawke's Australian Labour Party has guided the economy for the last three years, but the latest issue of Economic Record show that there are now over 30,000 millionaires in the country, with one tenth of the population owning 60 per cent of all wealth while two million live below the poverty line.

Detailed breakdown on wealth figures in Australia are set out in a series of tables in Australian Society and include comparative figures for 1984 and 1986 where the total wealth of the richest 118 people has increased by 250 per cent - over A$5,000 million - at a time when the total wealth has increased by 20 per cent.

From Australian Society, Vol 6.,No. 5 1987


Quick 'n dirty
The World Bank is not celebrated for its radical reforming zeal. Yet it has just produced a highly confidential report urging the Philippines Government to abandon its gradualist approach to land reform - which effectively favours the landlords - and quickly move to help the landless and poor. The report says that the slow pace of reform will prolong the civil war in large parts of the country, while rapid reforms will siphon off peasant discontent and in turn reduce military activities and spending.

The report, produced at Manila's request, was fiercely critical of the land reform programme of Marcos, and warns that this time implementation must not be allowed to drag on. It argues that the Government should:

· Impose a ceiling of seven hectares for all private farms and ban the sale and transfer of land above the ceiling.

· Expropriate land and redistribute it to tenants and farm workers.

· Include all land, not least the sugar and coconut plantations.

· Use the value of the land declared by the landlord for tax purposes as the basis of compensation for expropriated land.

· Ask for a onetime up-front payment of $30 from each beneficiary, instead of payments spread over 30 years (as presently planned).

From Far Eastern Economic Review, 2 July, 1987


Conversion at a cost
Two Indian women, members of the nomadic and isolated Ayoreo tribe who were tracked down December 1986 in the Paraguayan jungle and taken to the New Tribes Mission base, have died in a flu epidemic. Such deaths are normal consequences of Western contact with previously isolated tribes. But such sad results do not dissuade the Protestant fundamentalists in their hunt, via motorboats and spotter planes, for any remaining indigenous people who need to be converted to their form of Christianity.

The deaths of the two Indians were reported by another, captured as a child thirty years ago and subsequently used to track down members of his own tribe. But on his recent visit to the Mission base he was prevented from meeting with the newly contacted group.

From Survival International, No. 17, 1987


Drive carefully
All gasoline-powered cars harm the environment, but the polluting effects of driving can be minimized by using the car carefully. Those who don't, aggravate the pollution, reduce the lives of their cars and sometimes their own lives too. Though high-pollution drivers often have old cars, the speed-obsessed owners of sports cars are equally guilty of environmental thoughtlessness. Watch out for the features detailed in the diagram - taken from Blueprint for a Green Planet.

Subtitled 'A handbook of positive measures and realistic alternatives' the publication is a practical guide on individual actions we can take to reduce our damaging impact on the environment - everything from a low-energy house to health without drugs. It's beautifully produced with lots of attractive illustrations.

From Blueprint for a Green Planet, by J Seymour & H Girardet, Dorling Kinderstey, London, £9.95.

Rusting bodywork will eventually eat into the frame of the car, leading to its demise. If the car is properly maintained, this will not happen, and replacement - with its environmental cost in raw materials - will be deferred.

Aggressive drivers not only risk injuring themselves, they also cause extra pollution through the excessive use of accelerator and brakes. Their driving also shortens the lives of their cars - hastening the use of resources to make new ones.

Driving with under-inflated tyres increases petrol consumption. This means that more petrol is neede to cover a given distance, and therefore more exhaust pollution will be created.

When objects like roof-racks are left permanently in position, the result is a large lump in fuel consumption. There is therefore a high pollution cost in carrying them.

The high-pollution driver does not bother to have the car engine regularly tuned. The result is poor combustion, and additional contaminants in the exhaust gases.

The high-pollution driver uses leaded petrol. He either does not know about lead contamination of the atmosphere, or does not feel that it is a problem worth paying to prevent.

Without a catalytic converter, the car's exhaust system pours nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere. These poisonous gases add to the pollution of the atmosphere.

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