New Internationalist


January 1983

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[image, unknown] BRIEFLY...

[image, unknown] COMMERCE[image, unknown]

Bribery figures soar

International Telephone and Telegraph (ITT) recently upped the figure on its overseas 'questionable payments' bribes or possible bribes— during the last decade to nearly US$2O million — a little bit more than the S3.8 million it acknowledged in 1976.

From Multinational Monitor, June 1982.

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[image, unknown] AUSTRALIA[image, unknown]

Radioactive milk

Milk supplies in Australia are still showing signs of radioactive determination, though France last exploded an atomic bomb in the atmosphere more than five years ago. Cesium 137 fall-out from the Mururoa Atoll tests during the mid-60s and 70s, has been detected in milk from Capel, Western Australia.

From The Australian, April 10-11.

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[image, unknown] REFUGEES[image, unknown]

Africa's refugees

Half the world's ten million refugees are African. In Eastern Africa, the highest concentration is in Somalia, where 700.000 refugees now live. Zaire's Haut province holds 100,000 refugees from Uganda And Sudan has over half a million refugees from Uganda, Chad and Ethiopia.

From Development Forum, July-August 1982.

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[image, unknown] FOOD[image, unknown]

Don't film-wrap your goldfish

Polythene wrapping used for food contains an additive that causes goldfish to die, according to Dhinsaku Uemura, a researcher from Osaka University, Japan. The additive is a kind of ether used to keep wrappings from becoming opaque.

How much it takes to harm humans is not yet known, but goldfish put into a bowl with the wrappings died in about an hour Uemura believes that the fish were unable to breathe after the ether dissolved in the water.

From Mainichi Daily News, 22.5.82

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[image, unknown] NUCLEAR ENERGY [image, unknown]

Windscale washout

Britain' s Windscale reprocessing plant is the world's most polluting nuclear establishment. according to a new report from the Political Ecology Research Group (PERG).

'There is absolutely no doubt that Windscale would not be allowed to operate anywhere else in the world,' says PERG director Peter Taylor. 'The UK accounts for at least 95 per cent of all sea-dumped radioactivity and Windscale is responsible for more than half of this.'

Over the last 25 years, the plant has released more than a quarter of a ton of plutonium into the Irish Sea.

Mexico, the world's fourth largest exporter of oil, is undertaking one of the world's most ambitious nuclear programmes. The government's plan calls for 20 reactors to be built by the end of the century, doubling Mexico's current energy' production,

Points for comparison: there are only 24 plants currently under construction in the whole of the Third World. Only four countries even in the rich world now possess more than 20 plants: The US, USSR Japan and the UK.

From WISE, Vol. 4 No. 4

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[image, unknown] POPULATION[image, unknown]

Active ingredients

Is this a recipe for long-life: an environment with heavy industrial pollution of the air, groundwater and coastline: long working hours and few days off; a large dollop of anxiety about whether one is truly accepted in the workplace; endless worry about social and business etiquette: heavy smoking and sitting about in smoke laden dives late into the night; an inordinate amount of alcohol; and a lifetime diet of monosodium glutamate?

Yes, it's official: Japanese males are the longest-living on the planet, averaging 73 years, 9 months and 18 days. But perhaps the secret ingredient is something else, because Japanese women on average survive another six years.

From Asiaweek Consumer Currents No. 49

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[image, unknown] ENVIRONMENT[image, unknown]

Global greenhouse

More carbon dioxide in the atmosphere good, bad, or both? Environmentalists fear that more C02 warming up the atmosphere could cause unprecedented changes in the global climate. But food growers would welcome a warmer atmosphere which could lengthen the growing season, And long-established commercial practice in controlled greenhouse environments has shown that CO2 enrichment increases the productivity even of winter-grown crops.

From New Scientist 22.7.82

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[image, unknown] EDUCATION[image, unknown]

Upbeat learning

South Africa's educational system is calculated to under-educate non-white children, as these tables demonstrate:

State expenditure on average schoolchild in 1977-78:
White: R551
Indian: R236
Coloured: RI85
African: R54

Teacher-pupil ratios:
White 1: 20
Indian 1: 27
Coloured 1: 28
African I : 48

And two thirds of the teachers in the schools for African children had only eight years' schooling themselves; just 2.3% had university degrees.

A non-governmental educational trust that has been trying to counteract these inequalities produces a magazine called Upbeat, the first magazine for black children in South Africa It is designed to present black children with a world picture that encompasses values, histories and modes of living other than those of the Caucasian West.

From Media Development, Vol. 29, No. 2.

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[image, unknown] AGEING[image, unknown]

Pensioner pill pushing

Pensioners are being prescribed too many pills with too little care, according to a report from Age Concern, UK. It estimates that 'at least' 10-15% of the admissions to geriatric wards are due to drug-induced diseases. A consultant geriatrician said: 'You can improve 25% of the patients coming in here dramatically by taking them off the tablets they are on,'

Even where the prescription is appropriate, usage instructions may not be clear. In a recent survey', 80% of the drugs had badly written labels, and only 300 had expiry dates. And the survey showed that even the instruction 'three times a day was correctly carried out by only 2500 of the patients.

Campaigns to get patients to return unused drugs have turned up vast amounts of toxic materials. In Guildford. a town in Southern England, the quantity' of drugs returned was enough to kill its entire population.

From New Age, autumn 1982.

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[image, unknown] AID[image, unknown]

Charity begins at home...

British overseas aid for 1982-83 has been cut by £26 million ($43m). What's more:

• About 70% of what's left is tied to the purchase of British goods and services.

• Only I0.9% of British aid to governments is for agriculture, although most people in developing countries live in rural areas.

• Big projects such as the construction of steel mills in India and Mexico amount to nearly £200 million($330m.)— about a fifth of the total British aid budges: a significant proportion of this is subsidising the British company involved. This may be good business for the British, but the aid guidelines may have prevented a local firm from tendering and providing much needed employment in the country concerned.

From Bother, No. 109.

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‘Marriage is a wonderful institution,
but I'm not ready for an institution yet.’

Mae West.

‘The governments of the United Nations will spend in 1982 more money on arms and armies in a mere six hours than they provided over ten years to implement the UN's Environment Programme.’

From Development Forum, May 1982.

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