Understanding World Events and Trends
Plain Truth Magazine
February-March 1985
Volume: Vol 50, No.2
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Understanding World Events and Trends
Plain Truth Staff  

Forty Years Later, Europe's War Wounds Still Hurt

   It has been four decades since Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin met at Yalta to shape Europe's future.
   In that seven-day conference at the Soviet Black Sea resort in February 1945, the Allied leaders agreed to accept only unconditional surrender from the Axis powers to end World War II, and to divide conquered Germany into four zones of occupation. They also consented to meet in San Francisco, California, to finalize plans for the United Nations. The Soviets also agreed to enter the war against Japan.
   The conference's "Declaration on Liberated Europe" was to guarantee the "right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live." The situation that has since developed in postwar Europe left many feeling that both the spirit and the letter of the agreement have been violated.
   The late French President Charles de Gaulle argued that the United States and the Soviet Union merely used the Yalta agreement to divide a shattered Europe. More recently, former West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt stated that the Allied powers "decided in a meeting in Yalta to practically divide Europe into spheres of influence. "
   U.S. President Ronald Reagan has disputed these views, noting that the Yalta agreement does not recognize any legal division of Europe. U.S. Vice President George Bush stated, "We recognize no lawful division of Europe."
   Recent stirrings in both Western and Eastern Europe have brought new meaning to the U.S. leaders' remarks: The Dutch refuse to allow U.S. nuclear missiles on their soil. West Europeans continue to channel U.S. technology to Iron Curtain countries. The Romanians, against Soviet wishes, participated in the 1984 Olympics. Poland 's labor movement is growing more vocal and demonstrative. And, perhaps most importantly, dialogue between the two Germanys has revived hopes for a people divided.
   Instead of a Europe divided East against West, many envision a Europe united, independent of both the Soviet Union and the United States. And as Europe grows more restless, the fuse that was lit at Yalta continues to burn shorter and shorter.

Malaria Makes a Comeback

   Malaria, a disease once thought to be virtually conquered, is making a dramatic resurgence despite medical advances.
   Malaria endangers more than half of the world's population, according to the World Health Organization. Each year an estimated 250 million contract the disease. More than one million, mostly children, die
   Dr. Alan Meltzer of Canada's International Development Research Center summarized a growing concern : "Malaria is increasing rapidly. We are not winning. The mosquito is way ahead of us."
   The disease has been encouraged by increased international travel. And yesterday's miracle drugs are losing ground as certain malaria strains develop immunity.
   DDT, a pesticide once considered effective for killing carrier mosquitoes, is now useless in about one third of the spraying programs worldwide.
   Chloroquine has been used since the 1940s to cure and prevent malaria. Its use, along with DDT, reduced the spread of malaria. The number of areas where chloroquine-resistant strains of the disease exist, however, has grown steadily. South America, Asia, Africa, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands all have resistant areas.
   The female Anopheles mosquito transmits the. malaria virus by biting. someone who already has it, then biting someone else. Once in the human body, the malaria parasite propagates itself in a three-stage cycle, making it difficult to subdue.
   Scientists are now working to develop a vaccine effective against each stage. They have already isolated and synthesized a protein that could produce immunity to the first stage of the malaria life cycle. Research teams at New York University Medical Center, the U.S. National Institute of Health and the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research anticipate making enough of the vaccine to begin animal tests this year.
   If all goes well, a malaria vaccine could be marketed in five years. Yet the scientists fear that a new vaccine may not be enough. Colonel Franklin Top of Walter Reed warned, "If we don't put out a good malaria control drug every five to seven years, we will be in trouble."

Niger's Uranium to Iran?

   How to make ends meet in face of drought and economic instability — that is the question troubling Niger, in West Africa.
   The advancing Sahara is swallowing more of the country's precious arable land because of a second drought within 10 years Niger's Common southern border with its major African trading partner, Nigeria, is shut because of that country's own economic difficulties. Niger's commodity earnings in U.S. dollars plunged from $124.4 million in 1979 to about $19.8 million in 1983.
   Since Colonel Kountche seized power in a 1974 coup, he has become one of the most listened — to leaders in West Africa. He reoriented Niger's agricultural production from export crops of cotton and peanuts to providing food for the nation 's burgeoning population of six million, and has effectively cracked down on political corruption. Colonel Kountche has made self-sufficiency in food production a prime goal, saying that to save dignity is to first of all feed, lodge and care for the population.
   Niger possesses the world's fourth-largest reserves of easily accessible uranium, and is fifth in uranium production after the United States, Canada, South Africa and Namibia. Revenues from uranium sales have been used until now for development in Niger and to pay for emergency food provisions and health care. But what if economic troubles continue? Part of the solution may be to strike a major deal with another nation, possibly Iran, for Niger's rich uranium reserves.
   Colonel Kountche told Jeune Afrique magazine that he would be ready to sell his uranium to the devil, and quickly, too, if the devil would buy Niger's annual production of 4,300 metric tons at an agreed price.
   Iran established an embassy in Niger and is negotiating with Niger on a sale of uranium. The negotiations between Iran and Niger haven't been fruitful yet because Niger, as a member of the International Agency for Atomic Energy, is required to sell uranium only to buyers using it for a peaceful purpose. But as Colonel Kountche remarked, the issue could, in a continuing crisis, boil down to a question of price.

Dramatic Shifts in U.S. Work Force

   The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that for the first time in history, white male workers are a minority of the U.S. labor force. Women are entering the job market in record numbers.
   The shortage of manpower during World War II moved more than 6.5 million women into the U.S. work place from 1941-45, and the trend did not reverse. Since 1940, the percentage of the U.S. work force that is female grew from 24.6 percent to 43.5 percent in 1983. By 1984, 54 percent of the adult female population were holding full-time jobs outside the home. Now, the perceived need for larger family income and the women's movement encourage even more women to seek employment outside the home.
   Also, blacks and other minorities, notes the report, grew from 10.7 percent in 1954 to 13 percent of the work force in 1983. White males during the same period decreased from 62.5 percent to 49.3 percent.
   Statistics such as those reported by the National Commission on Working Women indicate that 45 percent of women in the work force are either unmarried, widowed, divorced or separated. About 21 percent of women workers are married to spouses whose income is less than $15,000 a year.
   Indications point to a steady feminization of the work force. According to the Bureau, women will constitute nearly two thirds of all new employees in the United States during the next 10 years.

Ethiopia's Grim Plight

   A massive famine relief operation is under way in drought-stricken Ethiopia. The East African nation is one of 17 countries on the continent in the grip of continuing or worsening food crises.
   Will the emergency action prove successful? Or will the early estimates of 1,800,000 Ethiopians dying of famine by some time in 1985 prove closer to actuality?
   The obstacles — geographical and political — to getting food aid to the starving millions of Ethiopians, largely in the country's northern highlands, have proven to be formidable and frustrating to national relief agencies.
   Overland transport inland from Ethiopia's Red Sea ports initially proved to be ineffective because of lack of passable roads. Finally, an "air bridge" was established linking the ports and inland food depots with drop-off points in the drought-stricken regions.
   The famine is further complicated by the various wars between the central government of Lieutenant Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam and several — at least six — rebel armies who are in pitched battle against Colonel Mengistu's rule. As many as two thirds of the starving people are caught in the contested areas, especially in the north. Because of this conflict, until very recently the central government army had been reluctant to divert any personnel and vehicles from its task of battling the insurrections.
   Ethiopia's central government was reluctant to publicly admit the building crisis. It took international pressure and the sudden blaze of worldwide publicity to finally move the government to action in cooperating with international famine-relief organizations.
   All during last September, Colonel Mengistu and his Marxist government were busy preparing, not for famine relief, but for the nation 's 10th anniversary celebration. An estimated 200 to 250 million dollars were spent on the festivities. The government refused to permit journalists attending the celebrations to visit drought — affected areas.
   Ethiopia's famine conditions are expected to be even worse in 1985 because of the poor domestic harvests this year. The current government plan calls for the incorporation of half of the nation 's peasants and land by 1994 into state farms and producers' cooperatives. This government restructuring of agricultural production, with traditional Marxist central planning, will likely assure that future harvests will also be poor.

Coming: The Smart Card

   A new computerized bank card will soon revolutionize the way the world makes its financial transactions. Such a card, the carte a memoire (commonly referred to as the Smart Card), was created in 1974 by Roland Moreno, a French journalist.
   What makes Smart Cards so intriguing is that they are almost impossible to forge and can only be used with a personal identification number (PIN). A computer brain replaces the strip of magnetic tape found on ordinary credit or automatic-teller cards, making possible expanded uses.
   For instance, the microcomputer in each card has three sections. One contains the manufacturer's codes and is inaccessible, one is confidential and can be accessed only by the PIN of the card carrier, and one can be accessed by anyone. The latter section could hold vital information such as medical history, emergency contact numbers and, somewhat ominously, other personal information in which authorities might be interested.
   Despite the cost, the cards are on their way. Experiments in France — the leader in Smart Card technology — Norway and the United States have already begun. Residents in selected areas in those nations use the cards just like they would cash, checks, credit cards or even identity cards. When a person wants to buy something, the merchant places the card into a special reader and enters the amount of the purchase. The owner of the card then enters his Personal Identification Number to complete the transaction.
   Unlike credit cards, the Smart Card immediately debits the purchaser's account and credits the merchant's. In the long run, use of the cards could eliminate a great deal of paperwork and expense. The cards could carry information now carried on credit cards, bank cards, social security cards and library cards, for example.
   Smart Cards are not available for general use yet, but many see them as an intelligent solution to the unsafe times in which we live.

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Plain Truth MagazineFebruary-March 1985Vol 50, No.2