new internationalist
issue 185 - July 1988



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Radioactive boomerang
Australia is not happy about the underwater nuclear testing by France on Mururoa. Radioactive leakages into the Pacific Ocean are common. Indeed the tiny atoll has been so broken up by continual nuclear explosions that French scientists have moved further testing to a nearby atoll. Yet Canberra permits the export of yellow cake (raw uranium) - 3,251 metric tons in 1985 - which goes to make plutonium, in turn used for nuclear bombs. Guess where A$101 million worth of such yellow cake was exported to in 1986? Hole in one. The very Republique whose nuclear explosions Canberra takes such exception to. And according to Australian senators Norm Saunders and Richard Bolt in France Nuclear Renegade, Australia envisages exporting 2,000 metric tons of uranium to France by the early 1990s.

Greenpeace Australia's boomerang advert sums it all up.


Shenanigans at the FAO
Friends of the United Nations know the hawks of the New Right are looking for ways to discredit the various UN agencies. At the same time, blinding oneself to faults and mismanagement cannot be in the long term interests of the poor. So we are printing sections of a letter leaked to us. It is from the office of the Ambassador of the US Mission to the Director General, Edouard Saouma, of the Food and Agriculture Organization - the main UN agency charged with ending world hunger. It should be mentioned that Saouma has just embarked on an unprecedented third term of office, after he changed the constitution at last November's FAO Conference.

The letter asks:

[image, unknown] Why is it that the salary of the Director General and the Deputy Director General are not listed in the official Programme of Work and Budget?. What else is included in the Director General's compensation package - official residence, official residence staff automobile, chauffeur, retirement benefits. What is the estimated cost for each category this year?

[image, unknown] We understand that a number of persons who came to Rome around the time of the November 1987 FAO Conference had their travel and/or meals and accommodation paid from FAO funds. Please provide an explanation why each person was provided with FAO funds.

[image, unknown] Which employees of FAO currently receive an entertainment allowance?

[image, unknown] Is it true that some FAO employees actually served as members of delegations to the recent FAO Conference? Is it not clearly a conflict of interest for a person who is working under the direction of the Secretariat to simultaneously serve in a governing body role determining who should be Director General and what the budget of the organization should be?

[image, unknown] Is it true that a number of family members of Permanent Representatives to the FAO are employed by the organization? Please provide a list stating the name, job title and compensation for each person employed by the FAO who is the spouse, son or daughter, brother or sister, father or mother, brother-in-law or sister-in-law or niece or nephew of any FAO official who is rank of D-1 (senior managerial position) or above.

Letter dated March 3, 1988


Food fads
Many Americans are overweight and eat too much fat and cholesterol. As most of the fat and all the cholesterol comes from meat and dairy products, these foods have become the targets of nutrition reformers. And in April, the National Academy of Sciences called for the production of leaner cattle as a way of making Americans thinner and healthier.

Meat producers applauded the decision. After all, other more obvious and cheaper ways of becoming thinner would have involved eating and spending less. Indeed people have been voting with their diets. Beef consumption has gone down 13 per cent in the last decade - largely because of the well-publicized links between red meat consumption and heart disease and cancer. To satisfy changing demands, the percentage of fat in beef has declined by 10 per cent over the same period.

The easiest way to slim cattle still further is also the most obvious: let them spend more time grazing or eating hay and less time penned up in feedlots being force-fed on grain. Unfortunately for the tastebuds, fat on steaks and roasts helps to make the meat juicy, tender and flavorful. Lean meat can too easily turn into strips of tough leather

From Time magazine, April 18, 1988


A night to remember
It was a seaborne tragedy bigger than the sinking of the Titanic, with more than six times the fatalities involved in The Herald of Free Enterprise at Zeebrugge. Yet the loss of the Doña Paz in the Straits off the Philippines received scarcely a mention in the Western press at the end of December last year.

The grungy 2,100 ton Doña Paz choc-a-bloc with passengers - some three or four to a bunk and packing the decks - was 110 miles south of Manila steaming through the night and destined to dock there the next morning. Suddenly an 8,000 ton Philippines oil tanker, the Victor, collided with the ferry. The spilling petroleum ignited, setting the sea and ships ablaze. Passengers jumping into the flames had to dive deep to swim away. Within four hours both ships were gone. Only 26 survivors were rescued from the shark-infested waters, leaving an official death toll of 1,600.

However, just as at Zeebrugge, there were many more passengers on the inter-island ferry than registered. Children for example didn't have to be registered and there were anything up to a 1,000 of them. Some say closer to 3,000 may have been burnt or drowned.

Those at fault on the ships have probably paid with their lives. Elsewhere penalties for the shipping companies involved promise to be light. The Government can levy fines of no more than $200.

From Time magazine, January 4, 1988

'As long as there is poverty in the world I can never be rich,
even if I have a billion dollars. I can never be what I ought to be until
you are what you ought to be. This is the way our world is made.
No individual or nation can stand out boasting of being independent'

Martin Luther King, Jnr, (1929 - 1968)


In response to the criticism that Christian Aid, London, was becoming
unbalanced and one-sided in the issues it campaigned on:

'Is it always necessary or right and proper to prove how balanced we are?
What of all the talk which comes from the poor and the liberation theologians
about God's preferential option for the poor and God's bias towards the poor?
Can we deny it has its roots in the Gospel story of a poor man who understood
he was appointed to bring the poor good news and who persistently welcomed them,
identified with them and championed their cause before the rich and powerful of his day?

He was not so foolish as to regard them as entirely innocent victims.
They were sinners like the rest. There were points to be made on the other side.
But that didn't stop him from coming out on their side.

In a world which is massively out of balance, can anyone anywhere conceivably
be committed to what is just and yet stay above the battle, appreciating
everyone's good points and bad but never taking sides?'

Rev. Michael Taylor, Director Christian Aid

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