Watching the World

In the last 20 years, the number of natural disasters worldwide has quadrupled. Over 250 million people are affected every year.—EL UNIVERSAL, MEXICO.

“Trade winds, the dominant winds in the Pacific, have over the years gathered a huge mass of drifting garbage.” The area covered by this garbage has now reached the size of Australia.—LA DÉPÊCHE DE TAHITI, TAHITI.

To produce 50 liters [53 quarts] of biofuel for a passenger car requires 200 kilograms [440 pounds] of corn—“enough to feed one person for a whole year!”—GAZETA WYBORCZA, POLAND.

Bibles Published in China

“China has become one of the countries publishing the largest number of Bibles in the world,” says Ye Xiaowen, head of the State Administration for Religious Affairs. A Chinese printing company based in Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu Province, reached the milestone of publishing the country’s 50 millionth complete Bible. According to People’s Daily Online, “about 3 million copies of [the] Bible have been rolling off the [company’s] press annually in recent years.” The number of those professing to be Christians in China is reported to be growing.

Icons Targeted

“Over the last five years in Russia, more than 1,000 churches have been robbed,” reports Russky Newsweek. Thefts of some 40,000 icons have been reported to Russia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs. Now, by agreement between the Ministry and the Russian Orthodox Church, all church icons will receive a special identification mark, visible only when subjected to ultraviolet light. This will help investigators to identify the legitimate owners of recovered icons. The Moscow Patriarchate welcomes this measure, says Russky Newsweek, “since the ‘earthly’ identification mark will not affect the miraculous properties of the icon.”

Wars Drain Africa’s Resources

“Between 1990 and 2005, 23 African nations were involved in conflicts, and the total cost was about US$300 billion,” says the International Herald Tribune. “The price that Africa is paying could cover the cost of solving the HIV and AIDS crisis in Africa, or provide education, water and prevention and treatment for tuberculosis and malaria,” says Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. “Literally thousands of hospitals, schools, and roads could have been built.” The newspaper concludes that, without war, Africa “might have been a continent of growth instead of the world’s poorest.”

A Nap Might Do You Good

A study of over 23,000 Greek men and women concluded that taking at least three daytime naps a week may reduce the risk of death from heart attack by 37 percent. “There is considerable evidence that both acute and chronic stress are related to heart disease,” explains Dimitrios Trichopoulos, a researcher and an epidemiologist at the Harvard School of Public Health, U.S.A. “An afternoon siesta,” he says, “may act as a stress-releasing process [and] reduce coronary mortality.”