new internationalist
issue 190 - December 1988



Zambia's action
AIDS and the Third World. As a way of fighting AIDS, which has killed many 20-40 year-old Zambians (including President Kaunda's own son), the Government is to import three million condoms for free distribution to prostitutes.

The Christian Council of Zambia, the Zambia Episcopal Conference and the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia have condemned the condom action. Almost certainly they will not have read a new publication Aids and the Third World, published this October by The Panos Institute.

It is an up-to-the-minute overview of the epidemic, with a global emphasis. During 1988 150,000 new cases of full-blown AIDS are expected - as many as have occurred in all the years of the epidemic so far. Today epidemics in Latin America and the Caribbean are every bit as severe as North America, Europe and Australasia. Africa remains the worst affected.

'The AIDS virus' is now a misnomer; for in 1986 a second virus HIV-2 was discovered in West African countries. It is not yet certain whether this will be as serious as HIV-l, but the omens are not promising. Nevertheless, governments have responded to the challenge of AIDS with unprecedented speed.

Not for light bedtime reading, but AIDS and the Third World as the saying goes 'is essential reading on the subject'.

AIDS and the Third World a Panos Dossier in association with the Norwegian Red Cross,
Panos Institute, 8 Alfred Place, London WCIE
Price £5. 95/New Society Publishers, $9.50 in North America


Canadian constraint
Official government aid to Ethiopia has seldom been altruistic but donor countries now appear to be linking their aid much more closely to their own economies. Even Canada, with a better aid-giving reputation than most, has planned only Can$ 16.6 million ($13 million) of its Can$86.6 million ($70 million) aid package for 1988/9 to be spent on long-term development projects. The remainder is food aid, effectively the soupkitchen handout, amounting to a subsidy to Canadian farmers by disposing of their surplus wheat. Since 1984/5 Canada has given aid valued at Can$70 million ($56 million) a year, much of it Prairie grain.

Until recently Western donors dominated food aid, channelling most of their help through nongovernmental organizations due to the embarrassment of having to deal first hand with President Mengistu's self-proclaimed Marxist regime. However this year the balance has shifted with the USSR - the sole major supplier of military aid - also donating some $80 million in food directly to the government.

From African Analysis, No.56 1988


Thank you Mr Fish
Non-chemical methods for controlling malaria-bearing mosquitoes in India are proving effective. Tested since 1983, they appear to have wiped out the disease wherever they have been used. About 350,000 people in 100 villages of Gujarat have been reaping the benefits of the programme. The strategy involves selling mosquito-eating fish at subsidized rates to farmers with ponds in which the mosquitoes breed. The fish eat the mosquitoes, and provide useful cash when they are caught themselves.

In addition, the state government has provided eucalyptus trees for planting in swamps. The trees dry up the swamps, eliminate the mosquito habitat and provide timber for building and fuel.

Pesticides which prevent mosquitoes breeding, cost $65 million annually - claimed to be 45 per cent of the Indian health budget. So alternatives which are cheaper, less toxic and eliminate the need for international pesticide companies, have to be welcome.

From Journal of Pesticide Reform, USA, Spring 1988


Melbourne's bus driver
Alarmed Australian employers are preparing to introduce bans on smoking in workplaces across the continent. This follows an unusual award of damages recently to an employee who claimed his lung cancer was caused by passive smoking. A former bus-driver, Sean Carroll agreed to an out-of-court settlement of $52,000 as compensation for exposure to tobacco smoke while driving for Melbourne's state-owned bus company.

After working as a bus driver for 36 years, Mr Carroll aged 59, was diagnosed as having lung cancer earlier this year. He told the tribunal that neither he nor the rest of his family had ever smoked.

From International Herald Tribune, 30/7/88


Aborigines perish in prison
Amnesty International has initiated 'Urgent Action' over the death of Edward Cameron, a 23-year-old Aboriginal football star in a Geraldton (Western Australia) police lock-up. At the time of his death he was the only detainee, while seven white police officers were on duty. Cameron is the 107th Aboriginal to die in Australian police custody or in prison since 1980. Amnesty's action is because none of the government's recommendations on the custody of Aborigines was observed in Cameron's case.

From correspondence received


Philips target
The latest target for attacks by the militant anti-apartheid saboteurs in Holland has been Philips - the electronics transnational. Calling themselves the Revolutionary Anti-Racist Action underground (RARA), the activities caused $250,000 damage to one Philips factory. In a letter explaining their actions, RARA said Philips has become a target because it supplies electronic equipment to the South African army.

The sentencing of an RARA activist Rene Roemersma to five years' imprisonment for arson prompted a spate of 'RARA Continua' graffiti around the country and a series of attacks - almost one a day - on Shell petrol stations (one of the principal oil-trading companies with the racist government).

From African Analysis, No. 56. 1988


Paid are the peacemakers
Last month we reported that the US was withholding its United Nations dues - $467 million plus $70 million in peacekeeping assessments - as a way of whipping the organization into line. At the end of September we learnt that there had been a change of heart. A White House Spokesperson announced 'We are committed to full funding.'

A cheque for $15.2 million was delivered and the remainder will be paid in dribs and drabs over the next two years. The change of heart has been prompted by:

· The Soviet Union, under UN auspices, agreeing in April to a withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

· The supervision of the cease-fire in the Gulf by UN troops, after Iran announced in July that it would accept UN Resolution 598 which called for an end to the eight year Iran-Iraq war.

· South Africa, Angola and Cuba agreeing to a cease-fire in Angola and Namibia in August, with the UN supervizing elections that would lead to Namibian independence.

· In September in the Western Sahara, Morocco and the Polisario guerilla forces accepted a UN plan to end almost 13 years of war.

One of the biggest reasons however, may have been the foreign policy initiative of Mikhail Gorbachev, which has reduced the USSR's debt to the UN from $112 million in 1985 to just $10 million this year. As one commentator observed, 'The US had better watch out, because the Soviets are grasping the initiative.'

From Time magazine. 26.9.88

'Let our children grow tall, and some taller than others.'

Margaret Thatcher

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