Bits and Pieces: Corporate Child Care, Land Regulation, and Thai Canal

A short series of reports on corporate child care, land regulation, the proposed Thai Canal, and more.
By the MOTHER EARTH NEWS editors
November/December 1973
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A proposal to dig the Thai canal across the Kra Isthmus using nuclear explosions wasn't warmly received by local residents.

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CORPORATE CHILD CARE, a 48-page report on how capital profits from day care, is available from the American Friends Service Committee. The booklet describes how big business makes money from both the high-priced sale of low-quality service and the use of cheap female labor. There also is a chapter on alternatives which includes a list of resources on parent and teacher-controlled community centers, and materials for use in non-racist, non-sexist preschools. 

THE NEWSPAPER YOU READ TODAY MAY BE YOUR FOOD TOMORROW, according to a Denver University microbiologist. Dr. Brooks D. Church says that fungi can turn discarded paper into a protein-rich food supplement ... and the mold produced contains as much as 50 percent protein. Currently it's used in animal feed, and—if approved by federal health agencies—could supplement human food, Dr. Church says. Fungus has been grown successfully on the leftovers from paper factories, grain mills and breweries . . . and even on feed lot cattle wastes and manure. The Green Giant Company's Minnesota corn and pea cannery and an Iowa milling firm are now testing the idea in pilot plants.

GOVERNMENT REGULATION OF LAND, the United States' most basic resource, is gathering momentum from Washington officials. Congress, backed by the Nixon administration, is trying to establish land regulation measures that could affect millions of people... what they can do with their property, where to build or buy new homes, and even where you can spend your vacation.

There is still an estimated 10 acres for everyone in the country, but the postwar "baby boom" is causing the formation of 27,000 new households each week and, in the next two decades, power plants and transmission lines alone will take up over 5,000 square miles. Because of this growth pattern, Hawaii has zoned every foot of its territory, earmarking sections for urban, rural, agricultural or conservation uses... California requires special permits for coastal construction, while Maine, Vermont, Florida, Washington, and Oregon are trying to pass laws to control a stampede of land speculators.

The Land Use Policy Act (S. 268), introduced for a second time by Sen. Henry Jackson, D.-Wash., passed the Senate 64 to 21, but awaits reconciliation with differing House proposals. If approved, participating states would share $100 million dollars to set up authorities to inventory land and resources, regulate sales and developments, control environmentally sensitive areas, influence locations of new communities, and keep building in line with pollution laws.

NUCLEAR EXPLOSIONS may be used to blast away sections of the Kra Isthmus to construct the Thai Canal . . . a proposed shortcut across Thailand for 500,000-ton tankers carrying oil from the Middle East to Japan. An estimated 34,000 million cubic yards of earth will have to be moved during the construction (compared with 327 million for the Panama waterway). The use of atomic power is expected to shorten excavation time from 12 to eight years and reduce costs by $2 billion dollars. Plans involve using clusters of five or six devices detonated in salvos for a total of 139 explosions amounting to 41 megatons.

Local residents will have to be evacuated, according to New Scientist, a London publication, because fallout will travel more than 350 miles and secondary radiation could spread as far as 1,600 miles to the west. And what do the folks who live there think? Chow Chowkwanyum, a key figure in contract negotiations, complains, "Our problem is education. People have a particular fear of this type of device." Little wonder, Chow, little wonder.

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