Understanding World Events and Trends
Plain Truth Magazine
November-December 1985
Volume: Vol 50, No.9
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Understanding World Events and Trends
Plain Truth Staff  

Toys and Violence

   The toy industry has ended its late-1970s disarmament movement, and the G.I. Joe doll and a host of new, otherworldly warriors have invaded toy stores around the world.
   In 1976, when G.I. Joe only earned $6 million for his manufacturer, Hasbro Industries, he was retired from active duty. But he's back now and heading up a band of mercenaries that hit consumers for about $100 million in 1984.
   G.I. Joe's stated enemy is a group of villains known as "Cobra." But everyone knows the real struggle is between toy companies fighting for a spot in an industry that did nearly $12,000,000,000 worth of business in the United States alone in 1984.
   G.I. Joe's competition is headed by the "Go-Bots," the "Transformers,". "Voltron" and "Masters of the Universe" series of toys. All are featured in television cartoon programs that highlight their adventures and promote sales of the toys.
   These other "action figures" (the industry avoids the words war toys) inhabit different times and worlds than G.I. Joe. But with him, they are expected to dominate sales during the holiday buying spree.
   Profits aren't all these toys produce: Much controversy surrounds them. The toys and the cartoon shows that promote them, say opponents, center around levels of violence harmful to children. In the Transformers cartoon show, for instance, some 83 acts of violence occur every hour, according to the National Coalition on Television Violence.
   Defenders of the toys say that the violence is not bad for children, raising the catharsis argument — that acting out violence in play keeps children from acting it out in real life.
   Dr. Thomas Radecki, president of NCTV, disagrees, citing numerous studies that he insists disprove the catharsis argument. "Children learn behavior," he says. "These games and cartoons teach them that aggression solves problems. Eventually they act out these solutions in real life."
   Protests about violence don't seem to slow down sales of these kinds of toys The Toy Manufacturers of America predict that 1985 will be another record sales year. As one toy-industry publication put it, "War is sell."

Disarmament Research Institute

   It was in August of 1945 that Japan became the first nation in history to experience an atomic attack. It was something that most people would prefer to forget — but many in Japan have decided to remember, Not, however, in a spirit of indignation, self-pity or revenge.
   The attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki have placed Japan in a unique position for they alone among all the people of the world know from firsthand experience what nuclear war is like. Some Japanese feel a special weight of responsibility to warn the world to renounce war as a means of resolving disputes.
   Such a person is Tokuma Utsunomiya, a senior statesman and a respected member of the Japanese Diet. He is also chairman of the Disarmament Research Institute, (Tokuma Utsunomiya, Member of The House of Councillors, National Diet of Japan) an organization dedicated to informing the world of the horrors of atomic bombing. Mr. Utsunomiya remembers the bombings as an unparalleled disaster, but he is not anti-American. He realizes that the Japanese nation brought the disaster on itself.
   He reminds his people that their fathers and grandfathers allowed themselves to be led into the war by militarists. He makes no excuses. He is realistic, understanding that the excesses and atrocities committed by the Imperial Japanese army dulled any edge of compassion that the enemies may have felt. Mr. Utsunomiya candidly admits that Imperial Japan reaped what it sowed.
   But now the Japanese must show themselves to be a matured and sobered people, committed in a way that no other people can be to showing the truth about atomic war. To this end the Disarmament Research Institute makes available a pictorial record and information in several languages about the effects of atomic attacks.
   Two hundred thousand people died horribly in the holocaust of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Most were noncombatants — women, children and the elderly. Mr. Utsunomiya warns that the Japanese must not allow themselves to say, "Let's forget it; the past is the past." Not while nuclear war is an ever-present threat.
   Rather, the Japanese must take advantage of their unique experience and show the world, as convincingly as possible, exactly what happens — to people — when nuclear weapons are used.
   Such honesty is refreshing in a world where it is more usual to accuse or blame. But there is nothing to be gained by pointing a finger. What is important is to make sure that it never happens again.
   When the elder statesmen of Japan speak out on nuclear war, and calion their people to set an example by continuing to renounce war and violence forever, not only the Japanese but the whole world should listen.
   Without accusation or justification, Tokuma Utsunomiya has made a dignified plea for sanity He sees his work as having worldwide application and as the most effective memorial to the 200,000 people whose lives were so cruelly shattered on those two August mornings 40 years ago.

Quebec Still Canadian

   Eight years ago Canada faced the possibility that the province of Quebec would secede. A Parti Quebecois campaign slogan stated, "A vote for the PQ is a vote for independence."
   But that was eight years ago Most of Quebec doesn't want independence from Canada.
   A recent poll indicated that only 4 percent of the inhabitants of Quebec want independence. Another 15 percent desire a sovereignty — association with Canada. That is less than half the nearly 40 percent who wanted a sovereign — state setup when the Parti Quebecois presented a referendum on independence in 1980.
   To many in La Belle Province, separatism hardly seems worth it. Many issues of major concern to French-Canadians in Quebec are being resolved to their satisfaction, with the province able to maintain a large degree of cultural independence.
   A few years ago some French-Canadians feared that the French language would become only a "curiosity," functionally replaced by English. Immigrants to Quebec usually elected to learn English rather than French. A command of English was required for many jobs. Francophones complained that an English-speaking minority dominated Quebec's economy. Said the Toronto Star in 1977 "The chief threat to Canadian unity is neither political nor a matter of linguistic or cultural chauvinism, but a question of economics."
   But that is changing. In 1977, the provincial government passed the French Language Charter declaring French to be Quebec's language of business and government. Now, one whose home language is French can spend his entire working life using only French (though bilingualism is required for nearly all executive — level jobs). He is served in French in restaurants and stores.
   It's the English-speaking citizens who are forced, more and more, to learn two languages to get by. The same language law banned English signs and restricted English schooling.
   The Star went on to say that no French-Canadian at that time headed any of the major corporations operating in Quebec, including banks, life insurance companies, major retailing chains, oil companies, automobile or appliance companies, major construction or real estate firms. Now French-Canadians are becoming more involved in businesses that were once English-speaking bastions. The Quebec French have come to hold numerous key positions in business in the province.
   Quebec 's economy in 1983 and 1984 showed growth above the Canadian average despite the fact that major companies for years have been moving their headquarters to neighboring Ontario, saying they can't live with the language laws. With more control over their own economy, most French-Canadians are looking at separatism negatively as an isolationist move.
   Tension between Quebec and the rest of Canada has by no means been eliminated. But, it seems that Canada does not have to worry about being sans Quebec in the foreseeable future.
   The age at which a person is most likely to first experience serious depression is dropping steadily.
   Harvard Medical School researchers have found that while women born in the 1930s were most likely to suffer major depression at about age 50, women born since 1950 were likely to become seriously depressed before age 30. Women generally are more susceptible to depression than men. But researchers observed that the difference between men and women in rates of depression seems to be diminishing.

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Plain Truth MagazineNovember-December 1985Vol 50, No.9