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new internationalist
issue 201 - November 1989



Peace or Satan
Peace symbol School officials in Pasadena, Texas, have detected something satanic in the peace symbol: they see it as an upside-down broken cross that signifies the defeat of Christianity. They are shortly to be voting on new student dress regulations that will allow school principals to ban the sign from their institutions.

School administrators learned the symbol's devilish significance at a seminar on cults last spring at the University of Houston. The peace sign itself was devised by British pacifists who combined the semaphore signs for N (nuclear) and D (disarmament).

Could the Texas school officials have a hidden agenda? This is a state where the arms industry provides a large number of jobs.

Information but not comment from Time magazine, vol 134, no.1 1989


Ozone-friendly freezers
Make the dumping of fridges with ozone-damaging chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) illegal, says a new report from Friends of the Earth UK. Government action is urgently needed to:

· clear up consumer confusion

· standardize labels on new fridges

· set up a national network of registered depots for fridge and CFC disposal

· provide fiscal incentives where appropriate.

There are, in the UK, more than 30 million domestic fridges which use CFCs as the refrigerant and as part of the foam insulation in walls and doors. The CFCs are reasonably safe while they remain in the leakproof sealed units but not so when fridges are dumped and crushed. The CFCs in the refrigerant can be safely removed and recycled.

But dealing with those in the foam (which contains four times as much) is more difficult - attempts to develop disposal methods have run into high costs.

There are over two million tonnes globally 'banked' in fridges; described as a 'time bomb of CFCs ticking away'.

Out of 25 manufacturers of fridges in the UK, only Amana and Indesit have a scheme up and running to recover the CFCs from their old fridges. At the other end of the spectrum, AEG and Siemens - while keen to promote their green image - have declined to offer a CFC recovery service. The first local authority fridge disposal schemes have also been launched, under pressure from local environmental groups keen to extend last year's aerosol bans to practical action on fridges.

From Fridges and CFCs, available free from Friends of the Earth, 26-28 Underwood Street. London NI 7JQ


The second shift
Some 15 years after the start of the modern women's movement in the US, most men still do little of the housework or child care, still feel enormously threatened by wives who work or (worse) earn more than they do, and still abandon their children financially or emotionally after a divorce. Arlie Hochschild in her book The Second Shiftinterviewed 10 couples over 12 years, from 1976 to 1988.

Over that time only one sign of 'progress' surfaced: the spouses didn't share the household duties any more equitably, but now they 'imagined they did'. In fact the husbands who said they were helping tended to be the ones who did the least. In more 'traditional' couples the men were actually more likely to pitch in at home - perhaps, Hochschild hypothesizes, because they felt less threatened.

From Mother Jones. Vol. 14. No. 5.1989


Garbage islands
The dumping of toxic trash from the West in poorer nations, who are under great pressure to earn foreign currency, ranks alongside the ozone layer and the rainforests as one of the major environmental issues of our times. A US company, Admiralty Pacific. touches two out of the three environmental bases, in making an offer to the Marshall Islanders in the Pacific. The Marshall Islands are one of several low-lying Pacific nations threatened with inundation as sea levels rise because of the influence of the 'greenhouse effect'.

Admiralty Pacific would like to send 25 million tonnes of garbage to the islands over the next five years. It will, the company says, protect the atolls from the rising tides.

ICEF Occupational Health Newsletter 2, 1989. Published by the International federation of chemical, energy and General workers' Unions. Ave. emile de Beco 109, B-1050, Brussels, Belgium.


Third World belief
Christianity has had far more success in winning adherents among the nations of the South than in retaining Christians in its European heartland. Third World Christians already outnumber those in North America and Europe - and the margin will have widened greatly by the year 2000. This shift in the centre of gravity from the rich North to the less developed world will increase the Third World's influence in the denominations and certainly change aspects of faith. Expected changes include: greater emphasis on helping the poor: a weakening of the main churches' toleration of the other great religions: and a disappearance of celibacy among Catholic clergy of Latin America and Africa. The new majority sees itself as dispossessed. Their saviour is not the triumphalist Christ the King of old Christendom but Jesus the liberator, the crusader against injustice. He will comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

From World Development forum. Vol. No 10 1989


Thrill of Paris
Thrill of Paris Below is an advertisement from the Indian firm, Bhilwara, which manufactures underpants (which they call wearunders) under licence from France.

For the man who plays many roles, here come the very best wearunders via the grand fashion avenue of Paris. Champs Elysees manufactured with French technique. And they'll reach out to the best part of your body.

Only our wearunders recognize the many roles a man plays. And there's a model for each of them. The macho male. the businessman, the romantic. Not every man can separate these roles. But remember, every woman can.

Now there's one thing less you'll bring back from abroad.

'Revolution is not something fixed in ideology, nor is it something fashioned to a particular decade. it is a perpetual process embedded in the human spirit. When all today's isms have become yesterday's ancient philosophy, there will still be revolutionaries. No amount of rationalization can avoid the moment of choice each of us brings to our situation here on the planet. I still believe in the fundamental injustice of the profit system and do not accept the proposition that there will be rich and poor for all eternity.'

Abbie Hoffman, a US spokesperson for The 1960s
anti-Vietnam War movement, who died earlier this year.

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New Internationalist issue 201 magazine cover This article is from the November 1989 issue of New Internationalist.
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