Good News Agency – Year II, n° 2
Good News Agency carries positive and constructive news from all over the world relating to voluntary work, the work of the United Nations, non governmental organizations, and institutions engaged in improving the quality of life – news that doesn’t “burn out” in the space of a day.
Good News Agency is distributed through internet to over 1,200 editorial offices of the daily newspapers and periodical magazines and of the radio and television stations with an e-mail address in 16 countries: Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and it is available in its web site:
It is a free of charge service of Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale, a registered non-profit educational organization chartered in Italy in 1979. The Association operates for the development of consciousness and supports the activities of the Lucis Trust, the U. N. University for Peace, Radio For Peace International, The Club of Budapest and other organizations promoting a culture of peace in the ‘global village’ perspective based on unity within diversity and on sharing. Via Antagora 10, 00124 Rome, Italy. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Argentine court prohibits ship carrying nuclear waste from entering its waters
12 January - The Federal Court of Appeals in Buenos Aires ruled on Wednesday that the Argentine government should take steps to prohibit a British-flagged boat carrying nuclear waster from entering the country's waters.
Citing the possibility of “irreversible” damage to the public health and the environment, the three judges of the Court of Appeals overturned a lower court ruling and stated that such action is required of the government. The court supported its ruling with the international law, which seeks to protect the environment and public affairs of countries around the world, including Argentina.
The ruling comes as the Japanese nuclear freighter “Pacific Swan” sits inside Argentina’s 200 mile economic zone waters, waiting to sail on its route through the waters off Cape Horn. The ship carries 192 blocks of highly radioactive nuclear waste, the equivalent of 96 million curies of radioactivity.
The plutonium nuclear waste found on the ship comes from Japanese nuclear fuel that is produced in French state-controlled COGEMA La Hague reprocessing plant.
By Soo Yeom Kim © Earth Times News Service
Nations agree use of DDT to fight malaria exceeds risks
10 January - Canada and 121 other countries negotiated a landmark anti-pollution treaty late last year, and bargained DDT right off the list of immediately banned poisons. The treaty is all the better for that. DDT is a widespread and pernicious menace, and must be banned completely. But not yet.
The insecticide DDT is one of the 12 nasty chemicals addressed by the new global treaty on POPs or persistent organic pollutants. The treaty, once in force, would subject most of these poisons to an immediate ban. DDT was exempted, after long argument and only for the control of malaria, until cheap, effective and safer alternatives can be developed.
Notwithstanding DDT's dreadful dangers, the POPs treaty represents a fair compromise for the moment. What's needed now is well-funded research, to find better strategies against malaria and the suffering it causes.
By Jean Lebel © Earth Times News Service
Israeli - Palestinian Conference for the Promotion of the Culture Of Peace
The latest activity at IFLAC: PAVE PEACE was a weekend Conference of Jews and Arab/ Palestinians, on "The Importance of the Culture of Peace in the Middle East
Nowadays," at Zichron Yaacov, on January 12 and 13. The constructive debate showed the determination of the participants of both sides to contribute to identify ways to solve the present crucial situation. The program included panels, workshops and roundtable. One of the major Resolutions of the Conference was that the wide media “such as CNN, NBC, BBC, and Satellite should, like the Good News Agency from Italy and the Positive News paper from England, report on the positive aspects too, and not only on the negative aspects of the current situation in the Middle East such as shootings and the Intefada”.
Further information on the Jewish - Arab collaboration at IFLAC through meetings, conferences, and common celebrations for the promotion of the Culture of Peace in the Middle East are available on: http://tx.technion.ac.il/~ada/home.html
(12 January) An FAO emergency project in Mozambique is providing farmers with the seeds and tools they need to start growing food again after flooding from last year's violent cyclones wiped out crops and livestock. The damage was worst in seven southern and central provinces, where about 25 percent of the planted crop was lost, or 6 percent of the national total.
While farmers wait for flood waters to fully recede, the FAO project, which is funded by the Italian Government, is helping them to grow subsistence crops. "We are distributing almost 3 500 tonnes of seeds and 400 000 hand tools to over 100 000 farming families," explains Bruno Musti, FAO Emergency Team Leader. An association of NGOs is helping to distribute these farming kits quickly and efficiently.
IFAD to assist a usd 41.77 million food security project in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
Rome, 11 January 2001 – A USD 41.77 million project the ‘Uplands Food Security Project’ in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, will receive a USD 24.44 million loan from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). A loan agreement was signed today at the Fund’s Headquarters by H.E. Kim Hung Rim and John Westley, Vice - President of the Fund…
Project beneficiaries will be approximately 18 000 households, comprising some 76 000 individuals, in the 46 low-income, food-insecure cooperative farms. About 36 000 among them are workers/shareholders in the cooperative farms, 56% of whom are working women.
Cambodia to receive IFAD support for a rural development project worth Usd 22.85 million
Rome, 11 January 2001 – A USD 22.85 million project the ‘Community-Based Rural Development Project’ in the Kingdom of Cambodia, will receive a USD 10 million loan from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). A loan agreement was signed today at the Fund’s Headquarters by H.E. Keat Chhon, Senior Minister, Minister of Economy and Finance and John Westley, Vice - President of the Fund…
The target group includes 77 400 poor households living below the poverty line of USD 112 per year. It is expected that at full development about 49 600 families will benefit directly from this project.
Wind farm in the USA
(11 January) The border of Washington and Oregon will soon be home to the world's largest wind farm, producing enough power for 70,000 homes in 11 Western states. The wind-power company FPL Energy of Florida is beginning construction of the 450-turbine, 300-megawatt project next month and hopes to have it on-line by the end of the year. Oregon-based PacifiCorp has pledged to buy power from the farm for at least 25 years. Enviros, some of whom helped site the project to avoid bird flyways, are giving the project a big thumbs up.
New technology for future cars
(9 January) At the annual Detroit auto show today, Ford announced plans to introduce a new technology to Ford Explorers in 2004 to raise their fuel efficiency 42 percent, from 19 to 27 miles per gallon. The electric technology, which will cost willing buyers less than $1,000 extra, will boost fuel efficiency and lower emissions by automatically shutting down a gasoline engine when the vehicle stops and then restarting it when the driver steps on the accelerator. Meanwhile, General Motors says it will begin offering a wide range of vehicles powered by hybrid gas-electric engines in 2004.
World Social Forum – Porto Alegre, Brazil, 25-29 January
The World Social Forum will be a new international arena for the creation and exchange of social and economic projects that promote human rights, social justice and sustainable development. It will take place every year in the city of Porto Alegre, Brazil, during the same period as the World Economic Forum, which happens in Davos, Switzerland, at the end of January.
The World Social Forum will provide a space for building economic alternatives, for exchanging experiences and for strengthening South-North alliances between NGOs, unions and social movements. It will also be an opportunity for developing concrete projects, to educate the public, and to mobilize civil society internationally. The World Social Forum developed as a consequence of a growing international movement that advocates for greater participation of civil societies in international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Thousands in Northwest to benefit from wind power
11 January - While power shortages in California are making headlines, PacifiCorp, a Pacific Northwest power company Wednesday announced plans to build a wind-powered electricity generation complex large enough to supply 70,000 homes per year.
The project should be on line within a year, according to a company spokesman. The 450-turbines will be put on local farms on the Washington-Oregon border southwest of Walla Walla, Wash, according to a PacifiCorp spokesman, and generate some 300 megawatts of electricity.
The complex, called the Stateline Wind Generating Project, will create an average of 150 construction jobs, with a peak need of some 350 workers, PacifiCorp said.
By Robert E. Sullivan © Earth Times News Service
Involving business in conflict resolution
Tel Aviv, 14 January -- On the eve of the upcoming World Economic Forum at Davos, Haim Roet, initiator of "Business for Global Stability", has issued a dramatic challenge from his home in Jerusalem in midst of the current Mideast crisis, to Prof. Schwab, Chairman of the Forum to channel the expertise and experience of the business community in helping to facilitate peace. Roet (who has maintained contacts with Forum executives over the past few years) points out that "the business community not only has a stake in a global world, but it has much assistance to offer in conflict prevention, management and resolution..." and that various forums including the Prince of Wales Business Leaders Forum, New York City University and the State of the World Forum have raised the issue in conferences conducted over the past year.
In essence, the concept envisaged by Marcello Palazzi, (co-founder of Progressio Foundation, initiator of recent United Nations World Business Forums, the First Enterprise Summit of the State of the World Forum, and the Millenium Enterprise Summit), and Haim Roet, (former analyst at the World Bank and founder of several associations to advance quality management and tolerance) would take globalization an important step further by involving the business sector in war and peace issues such as conflict prevention, resolution and the peace process.
By Shoshana Bekerman © Earth Times News Service
WFP to feed more afghan refugees in Pakistan
Islamabad - 11 January 2001 - The World Food Programme today announced that it will help feed 60,000 newly arrived Afghan refugees in Pakistan in 2001, more than double the number of refugees it has been helping only six months ago. "The WFP has been struggling to feed more Afghan refugees since late September when renewed fighting in the northeast of Afghanistan took its toll on a population already suffering from the worst drought to hit this country in decades," said Mike Sackett, WFP Regional Manager for West and Central Asia region.
The UN food aid agency is already providing monthly food rations to about 57,000 refugees in two camps near Peshawar, Pakistan, and under this new operation it plans to continue feeding them for up to another 12 months. "The new operation, which will bring more than 12,000 tons of food to the poorest 60,000 refugees at a total cost of US$ 4.87 million, will help the Government of Pakistan cope with this mounting burden," Jeff Taft-Dick, WFP Deputy Country Director in Pakistan, said.
El Salvador earthquake: WFP launches emergency operation
WFP has approved an initial emergency aid package of US$200,000 aimed at helping survivors of the devastating earthquake that struck El Salvador on January 13.
With the President declaring a state of emergency and appealing for international aid, WFP El Salvador has met the United Nations Disaster Management Team to co-ordinate the overall response to the emergency.
WFP El Salvador has been in the forefront of the initial response, co-ordinating relief and aid for survivors with the National Emergency Committee. The Programme has already set up emergency food warehouses. Precooked rations are being distributed in the worst hit areas of Santa Tecla, Comasagua, the department of La Libertad and in Ahuachapan.
Israel and the occupied/autonomous territories: ICRC distributes food parcels in Hebron
(11 January) Families who have been worst hit by the strict curfew imposed on Palestinian residents of Hebron for the last three months have been receiving food parcels as part of an ongoing distribution programme organized by the ICRC and the Palestine Red Crescent Society.
In all, around 2,500 families will receive a one-off food parcel donated by the Kuwait Red Crescent Society and containing basic provisions such as rice, sugar, and oil. The distribution began last week and is expected to take about 10 days.
UN agencies join forces to assess needs of quake victims in El Salvador
17 January – A United Nations inter-agency mission began its work today in El Salvador, where it is assessing the emergency needs of thousands of people affected by last Saturday's devastating earthquake near the capital, San Salvador.
Working closely with the UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination team and the Government of El Salvador, the team aims to quantify the level of needs and the number of beneficiaries, a UN spokesman told the press in New York.
Meanwhile, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is mobilizing to assist national authorities in coping with the earthquake's effects on the agricultural sector. In cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture and other agencies, the organization is helping to identify the needs of farmers affected by the disaster and provide the assistance and resources needed to get them back on their feet, the spokesman said.
To meet the immediate food needs of the disaster victims, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) is preparing to launch an emergency appeal to help up to 200,000 people left without homes or belongings, according to a statement released today at the agency's headquarters in Rome.
WHO launches mental health 2001 campaign
10 January 2001 - In a bid to focus attention on the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental health, the World Health Organization (WHO) is launching a year-long campaign on mental health. WHO is daring governments, health professionals and people from all walks of life to rise to the challenge posed by mental and brain disorders.
The issue will be put before the annual gathering of WHO’s 191 Member States during the World Health Assembly (WHA) in May 2001. Four ministerial round tables will discuss poverty, discrimination, gender and human rights aspects of mental health. The winners of WHO’s global school contest on mental health will also be invited to read their winning essays before the WHA.
World Health Report 2001 will cover topics such as the prevalence of mental health disorders, the organization and financing of mental health programmes, the treatment gap, prevention strategies and projected trends for the future.
Supporting Cameroon's Fight Against HIV/AIDS
Washington, January 11, 2001 - Millions of Cameroonians affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic will benefit from a US$50 million credit approved by the World Bank's Board of Directors. The Multi-Sectoral HIV/AIDS Project will help strengthen the capacity of local communities to design and implement action plans for HIV/AIDS and also support the design and implementation of sector specific HIV/AIDS strategies.
To respond to the HIV/AIDS crisis in Cameroon, the government developed a National Strategy for the fight against HIV/AIDS last year with the help of UNAIDS. Only three months after the prime minister launched that strategy on September 12, 2000, the government submitted a detailed proposal to the World Bank for scaling-up existing efforts at prevention and treatment, and ensuring nation-wide coverage. This project is part of the bank's Multi-country HIV/AIDS Program, which is supporting the emergency response to the epidemic in an increasing number of countries in the Africa Region.
Sierra Leone: ADB grants US $500,000 to fight malaria
(12 January) The African Development Bank has agreed to a grant of US $500,000 for Sierra Leone's anti-malaria programme, the state-owned news agency, SLENA, reported.
Of this amount, $258,400 will be used to buy anti-malarial drugs, $110,000 for mosquito nets, $52,300 for insecticides, $58,800 for spraying equipment and $5,000 for physical contingency. The agency did not say how the remaining money would be used.
The grant agreement, which forms part of the bank's Humanitarian Emergency Relief Support Project in post-conflict situations, was signed on Friday in Abidjan.
(EVANSTON, Illinois, USA) Seventy Rotary volunteers from the United States and Japan left for New Delhi, India, the week of 15 January 2001 to prepare for a nationwide polio immunization campaign — India's final push against the disease.
India, which hosts 70 percent of the world's polio cases, is making rapid progress toward the final interruption of poliovirus transmission. At the end of 2001, it is hoped that India will reach "zero case status".
On 21 January 2001, Rotary volunteers from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Bakersfield, California, USA; Riverside, California, USA; and Aomori, Japan, joined Rotary club members in India to administer the polio vaccine to more than 150 million children throughout the country in a single day. The national immunization day (NID) will be followed by a door-to-door "mop up" campaign, with volunteers moving from house to house to ensure that no child has been missed.
Rotary's PolioPlus program represents the largest private-sector support of a global health initiative. To date, Rotary has contributed US$402 million to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. By 2005, Rotary will have committed nearly US$500 million.
Hong Kong: car free zone
(10 January) Hong Kong plans to create car-free zones in parts of its central business district to improve the city's air quality. Just this week, high pollution levels prompted government officials to urge people with respiratory and heart problems to stay indoors. Late last year, the city legislature more than doubled the penalty placed on dirty cars to $128. Elsewhere on the Hong Kong enviro radar, the city's high court sided with the government and ruled yesterday that a 145-acre valley that is home to more than 70 species of dragonflies should be kept off-limits to development.
(10 January) Federal conservation laws have cut the rate of wetland loss in the U.S. by about 80 percent, according to a report released yesterday by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Between 1986 and 1997, the report said, the lower 48 states lost an average of 58,500 acres of wetlands a year, compared to 290,000 acres a year from the mid-1970s to '80s (when there were many more wetlands acres left to destroy). The report noted that the goal of no net loss of wetlands has yet to be met. It said development, farming, and forestry projects accounted for most of the remaining loss of wetlands.
Cameroon: Experts to treat volcanic lakes
(12 January) A team of 10 environmental experts have begun work to release toxic gas from the volcanic lakes of Nyos and Monoun, AFP reported on Tuesday. The scientists - from the United States, Japan and France - will build a filtering device to release the carbon gases slowly into the atmosphere. Over the next three to five years, the team will install a mechanism that will eliminate all risks of future toxic gas accidents, AFP reported. A build-up of toxic gas within the lakes was released into the atmosphere in 1984 and 1986. In the 1986 Lake Nyos incident 1,600 people were killed. The lake lies 500 km west of Yaounde, the capital of 1.2 million residents.
UNDP aids Pakistan’s election operations and women’s political participation
Two Government Ministers and Pakistan's elections chief joined UNDP in launching a new initiative to modernize electoral operations and promote women's political participation at a ceremony in last month in Islamabad.
The United Kingdom and Norway are providing $1.8 million and $1.4 million respectively to support the UNDP-managed project.
The initiative will help the Election Commission of Pakistan revamp its operations and improve electoral management. It will also support civil society organizations in awareness raising and other activities to promote greater participation of women in the electoral process.
"Electoral assistance and women's participation in decision making are important areas of the country cooperation framework of UNDP," said Onder Yucer, UNDP Resident Representative. "We are encouraged by the Government's decision to implement the local bodies elections starting and by the decision to reserve 33 per cent of union council seats for women."
Japan funds Unesco/Keizo Obuchi Programme of Fellowships for young researchers
Paris, January 10 (No.2001-1) - Japan will finance - through new funds-in-trust dedicated to capacity building of human resources - the UNESCO/Keizo Obuchi Research Fellowship Programme that will award 20 fellowships of US$7,500 each to young researchers over 2001 and the same amount in 2002.
The programme - named after late Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi known for his commitment to development issues who died in May 2000 - will award fellowships to researchers active in one of four fields: the environment, inter-cultural dialogue, information and communication technologies and peaceful conflict resolution. The programme will cover a period of three and a half years and will involve a total of nearly US$396,000.
Opening of exhibition of contemporary Georgian painting
Paris, January 15 (No.2001-03) - UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura praised the “excellent collaboration” between UNESCO and the Republic of Georgia as he opened an exhibition of contemporary Georgian painters, 21 Artists for the 21st Century at Organization H.Q.
Mr Matsuura spoke of the regional Caucasus project initiated by President Edward Shevardnadze. The project, which includes Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, “aims to establish a climate of political reconciliation and good relations between these States and to open new avenues of co-operation between this area of the Caucasus and UNESCO”. He also spoke of the establishment of a network of educational institutes and science academies in the three countries as well as “other instances of co-operation concerning heritage and biosphere reserves.”
UNESCO launches educational programme for refugee-children
Columbia, 18 January – About 40.000 refugee-children from the internal conflict that is covering Columbia with blood will be able to continue their studies thanks to an educational programme financed by Unesco. The UN agency committed itself with the ministry of education of that Country to start a programme that will involve first the communes of Bogota, Medellin, Cartagena, Cali, Bucamaranga, Barrancabermeja, Valledupar, and Montena. The initiative includes also the training of teachers and a literacy programme for adults, through the creation of community schools where the same refugees will be involved.
Program trains volunteers for relief projects in Mozambique
13 January - Campus California Teacher Group, a US newly-organized non-profit organization, has launched a program to train volunteers for rural work in Mozambique.
The 14 month program includes six months of training in the woods of northern California and six months on the ground in Mozambique helping rural farmers with disease control, latrine building, AIDS prevention and some English language instruction. The final two months are to be spent in the United States drumming up support for the program by, among other things, showing off the pictures snapped back in Africa.
The course costs $3,800 and includes air fare both ways, according to program director Tomas Lindstrom. He said scholarship money is available.
About two thirds of the first training group, starting in March, are on scholarship, he said.
Lindstrom said details are posted on the group's website: www.cctg.org
By Robert E. Sullivan © Earth Times News Service
“TOWARDS A NEW CIVILIZATION”
After leaving political responsibilities, Mikhail Gorbachev set up the Gorbachev Foundation, which carries out scientific research on the fundamental tendencies of world development. As President of the Foundation, he appreciates the role of Good News Agency in the creation of a more aware public opinion and agreed to give an interview to its Publisher and Editor, Sergio Tripi, on these themes and on Good News Agency’s initiative to promote a deontological code of the media.
Sergio Tripi: Why does the western world still today, after the fall of the Berlin wall, spend 30-40 times more on arms than on official assistance to development?
Mikhail Gorbachev: The answer is on the whole simple, because social and national egoism unfortunately prevail over ideas of humanism, solidarity and love for one’s neighbour. Arms are a very profitable business and aid to countries in need does not bring immediate profits. Although, if one looks at the problem in rational terms, it is clear that, if the problems of development and eliminating poverty are not resolved, the whole world, including the west, will find that it has to face extremely difficult trials in the very near future.
S.T. Which threat is more serious for humanity, that originating from the environmental impact of human activities which are out of control, or the devastating consequences of the absurd economic imbalance between the North and South of the world? And which threats are, in their respective spheres, the most dramatic and pressing?
Mikhail Gorbachev: Each is as bad as the other. In the twenty-first century environmental questions will cause ever greater problems and difficulties for everyone. Think, for example, of the warming up of the climate which has already caused real disasters. And this is only the beginning. The South of the world, especially Africa, has become an ever vaster area of humanitarian catastrophe.
An aggravation of this catastrophe would have fatal consequences for millions of people in the South of the world. And at the same time it would start conflicts of various kinds, new waves of uncontrolled migration and phenomena, not excluding wars, of a vast scope.
I would like to underline particularly the fact that both the threats are essentially connected. The very wretched situation of the South constitutes one of the causes of the environmental crisis. The insufficiency of aid to development on the part of the advanced countries is accompanied frequently by the transfer from North to South of ecologically harmful products and all this makes both the difficulties of the South and the environmental crisis worse.
S.T. How much time does humanity have to face these threats? What are the main obstacles which block the individual and social changes necessary to accelerate an inversion of the trend?
Mikhail Gorbachev: When the scientists, in the first place those of the Club of Rome, began to raise the alarm regarding the environmental threat, the possibility of a crisis of energy, etc. - this happened not so long ago, in the sixties of the century which has just ended - they were criticized by everyone. Especially by those who, for profit, were interested in continuing the predatory exploitation of nature and the dissipation of the resources of the Planet. That was a very short time ago, and today any reasonable person recognizes that those scientists were right.
It is difficult to foresee the precise timing of catastrophic, irreversible changes in nature and the exhaustion of different types of resources; in fact, on the one hand science goes ahead and new possibilities and new resources are opened up and, on the other, the consequences of the “supremacy” of man over nature turn out, ever more frequently, to be more destructive than they seemed to be a short time ago. In any case, even the most optimistic forecasts are a cause for concern.
The irreversible changes in nature, the alteration of the balance between biosphere and technosphere are there for all to see. To turn back is now in many cases impossible. Today the situation is such that we have to understand how to avoid new catastrophes. In any case, the twenty-first will be the century which will severely test the solidity and the survival of our civilization. We must not forget this.
S.T. In this context, what contribution do the activities of the Foundation which carries your name make?
Mikhail Gorbachev: Ours is essentially a Foundation for scientific research. We deal with the study of the fundamental tendencies of world development, including, naturally, the above-mentioned aspects. Our conclusion is that humanity must change structurally and go towards a new civilization which is peaceful and human and which guarantees development to all, in the first place to those who need it, a civilization which is, in the full sense of the word, ecological. You are right, profound changes are needed on the individual and social level. From this comes the slogan of the Foundation: towards a new civilization. Our activity, I hope, stimulates a process of acquiring knowledge and of taking concrete steps for their application. This means that our work is useful.
S.T. What is the most promising evidence of the undeniable change which is taking place, of which the most significant sign is represented by an army of many tens of millions of people who make voluntary service their reason for living?
Mikhail Gorbachev: In effect, the non-governmental forces, those volunteers who, without sparing their energies, participate in actions of assistance to developing countries and to their peoples and who participate in environmental movements today carry out a more effective role than that played in many interventions carried out by governments. In general the activity of the non-governmental organizations, including the millions of volunteers of different countries, social groups and religions, is becoming increasingly a visible and serious force. Their attempt to assist the state structures, as well as the entrepreneurial spheres, and to recognize the character and the danger of today’s situation, and to act in consequence, deserves every possible support.
S.T. Why are the media still not sufficiently aware of this formidable social expression of voluntary service? What evidence will make them more attentive to this profound social transformation, still not predominant but nevertheless always growing?
Mikhail Gorbachev: The means of mass information are not all alike. There are many which reserve ever greater attention for this new and growing phenomenon In essence, however, the principal mass media - you are right - for the moment “do not notice” what is happening in the consciousness and social action of the voluntary service. Evidently the answer is to be sought in the ownership of these mass media and in the interests which they express.
S.T. Do you think that a deontological code of the media, of which our Good News Agency is a promoter, a code which underlines the responsibility of the media in the information and balanced formation of public opinion, can be received by the media to the point of accelerating their readiness to consider positive news as worthy of as much attention as negative news?
Mikhail Gorbachev: I think that a code of this type is without doubt useful. At the second Forum of the Nobel Peace Laureates in Rome, among the points in the order of the day was in fact examined the question of the responsibility of the mass media for the situation of the “third world”. The closing communiqué of the Forum says in particular: “The modern system of the mass media is living an unprecedented crisis which prevents it from giving to the people of the planet a correct and true picture of the situation”. Later on it is underlined in the communiqué that the roots of this crisis are in the subordination of the policy and action of the information and communication community to powerful economic interests.
I think that the code, of which your agency is the promoter and supporter, can favour the improvement of the present situation. But obviously it is difficult to foresee to what extent and in what period of time the mass media will receive the advice contained in it. Let’s be hopeful!
Next issue: 9 February.