Thursday, 6 September 2012

In praise of the New Internationalist

Unless it's something disastrous, it's usually quite difficult to get a sense for what is going on in underdeveloped/Third World countries from the UK media. For what must be approaching a decade now, I have subscribed to New Internationalist magazine for my fix of news and views from such countries. Their publicity says 'New Internationalist tackles today’s most challenging global issues, confronts inequality and injustice and reports on positive changes happening around the world. An established leader of independent media since 1973, New Internationalist is written for our readers and funded by them. We have no media baron breathing down our necks or corporate advertisers telling us what to do'. And, by and large, I think that's what NI does, and it does it well. Not that I agree with their stance (green, left, non-capitalist, humanitarian) on everything but their hit rate with me has been consistently high. It comes out bi-monthly and articles in the current issue that have grabbed my attention are:

Legalising drugs: The 'war on drugs' has not been a success. Isn't it time to try something radically different? Legalisation is not a panacea but could be a pragmatic response to a problem that no laws can simply 'prohibit' away. If it seems a risk too far, consider the status quo, in which powerful drugs, manufactured by criminals, are widely and easily available. And teenagers routinely ignore what passes for drug education in schools and treatment programmes for adult users are chronically underfunded. What could possibly be worse?
Why events in Africa are ignored: Let's not delude ourselves, wars in Africa are of little interest to the West because they are happening to people too far away, who are too different, living in countries that are not 'important'. With our media's preference for the sensational, isn't it a crime that the slow starvation of entire communities forced to flee from violence into inhospitable jungles and deserts is just not sensational enough?
Celebrities and charity endorsements: Not everyone thinks that Bob Geldoff is a saint or that celebrities emoting in the townships is a good thing. Whether you agree or disagree, the debate is thought provoking. 
How to be courteous in Botswana: Some tips for not just getting by in Setswana but also in the UK and elsewhere. Courtesy and respect between individuals don't cost anything and make everyday interactions a lot more pleasant.
Affairs in Yemen: A country that is rarely reported upon unless it's something to do with terrorism so it's good to read about aspects of life there as it is today. Not that knowing about it puts it to the top of my places to visit!

Articles such as the above, plus reviews of books, music and films the mainstream ignores, make the NI a good read if you want an alternative view of the world. And it's not expensive!

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