Watching the World
A Losing Battle
◆ It is feared by some that the medical world is losing its battle against germs. Antibiotics have brought victories against them in the past, but now drug-resistant germs are appearing in growing numbers. Some have proved to be major killers, one class killing 50 percent more people than are killed in automobile accidents each year. The drug-resistant germs are called gram-negative bacteria. They have become one of the major hazards to hospitalized patients.
Raft Travels to Australia
◆ A log raft, carrying four men, successfully traveled from Ecuador, South America, across the Pacific Ocean to Australia. It was a journey of 7,000 miles that took 161 days. This long, perilous journey was undertaken to prove that it was possible for American Indians to have made this trip centuries ago. In 1947 Thor Heyerdahl made a trip from South America to French Polynesia on the famous raft Kon-Tiki, but this latest voyage by raft was 3,000 miles longer.
No Protection in Bankruptcy
◆ People who declare bankruptcy and believe that in this way they are protected from creditors are finding that this is not necessarily so. Creditors do not automatically mark off a debt when a person declares bankruptcy. They file suit in 20 percent of the bankruptcy cases upon the basis of exceptions provided in the bankruptcy laws of the United States. In seven cases out of ten the creditors win. Creditors often pursue a person in one court after another if the person moves to different cities. The legal fees for defending himself can mount to the point where he may decide that it would be cheaper to pay the debt. Would it not be better to assure creditors that they will be paid and make payments regularly until the debts are erased?
◆ A medical team in Los Angeles, California, has linked a potentially fatal disease of the arteries to drug abuse. The disease has appeared after as little as three months of drug use. Methamphetamine, also known as Methedrine, is suspected as being the drug that causes this disease. This finding, according to Dr. B. Philip Citron, who is head of the team, “was frightening, especially since amphetamine abuse in this country appears to be on the increase. . . . Perhaps 10 per cent of those who abuse amphetamines may fall victim to the disease, although the incidence in the hospital population runs as high as 30 to 40 per cent.”
◆ Nervous disorders and ear illnesses are mounting in Mexico City because of noise, according to protesting physicians. It appears that the worst noise is caused by motor traffic, because mufflers are not required by law. Most trucks and taxis do not have them. It is said that when noise reaches the range of 70 to 100 decibels it is dangerous. The noise level in Mexico City ranges between 100 and 130 decibels from eight in the morning until ten at night.
Light for Babies
◆ It was reported in the Scottish Daily Express that an infant can be saved from brain damage caused by jaundice if it is bathed in the glare of fluorescent lights. This treatment, being given at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, makes exchange blood transfusions unnecessary. The paper said: “Each year 15 babies with jaundice of prematurity have to have transfusion, but last year, thanks to the treatment, no transfusion of this type was needed.” Asked about the ‘phototherapy,’ Professor John Forfar, consultant in charge, said: “It is remarkably simple and highly effective. The baby is placed under a bank of these powerful lights for about three or four days, and without our doing anything else, the jaundice is cleared.”
◆ In western Queensland, Australia, there has been an eight-year drought. Sheep are so hungry that some have been eating the flesh of dead sheep, leaving only bones and wool. An estimated two million sheep have died in the drought.
Decay That Leads to Collapse
◆ Moral decay is evident throughout the world. Is there significance in it as to the future? The Moncton Transcript of Canada observed in its issue of October 17, 1970: “The decay and fall of the Roman Empire didn’t happen overnight. . . . It is probably the most striking, though far from the only example, of how shaky a foundation military strength, economic power and riches can be for enduring greatness.” It then listed five things that marked the decay of the Roman Empire that are commonplace conditions today. These are: (1) increasing divorce and family breakdown; (2) rising taxation and extravagant spending; (3) mounting craze for pleasure and brutality; (4) massive armament production; and (5) decay of religion. Along the same line the Dean of Perth, Australia, remarked: “Pornography was particularly rife at the fall of the Roman Empire. I cannot help wondering whether it is a sign of the imminent collapse of our own civilisation.”
◆ The money the United States has spent for military purposes since 1945 amounts to $1,100 billion. This exceeds the value of all business and residential buildings in the country.
◆ It is the view of Dr. R. M. Hayes, the medical officer to the Workmen’s Compensation Board of British Columbia in Canada, that people are too ready to take medicinal drugs. After pointing out that few drugs are free from unwanted side effects, he said: “Aspirin is a potent pain killer and is consumed annually by the ton, yet how many know that it can cause, or certainly aggravate, a peptic ulcer and disturb profoundly the very delicate blood clotting mechanism?”
The Vancouver coroner, he observed, is alarmed at how frequently he finds large amounts of various drugs in the blood of accident victims. Dr. Hayes observed that multitudes are “turning to chemical comfort rather than learn or be taught to handle their problems in a mature and natural way.”
◆ According to Dr. Samuel Epstein, Chief of Laboratories of Carcinogenesis and Toxicology, the majority of human cancers are probably due to cancer-causing chemicals. Widespread lung cancer in the United States and Great Britain has been clearly associated with the smoking of tobacco. In Asia, mouth cancer, which accounts for 35 percent of all Asiatic cancers, has been related to the chewing of betel nuts and tobacco leaves. In Japan, Iceland and Chile there is a high incidence of gastric cancer, and this appears to be related to eating a large amount of fish contaminated with nitrosamines, formed when nitrite preservatives are used on fish. Since man has brought himself into contact with so many chemicals, especially with respect to his food, is it not possible that he is the cause of many of his own sicknesses?
◆ In Great Britain cigarette smoking is killing 100,000 people a year. This was the report of Sir George Godber, Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Health. He warned: “This is no harmless indulgence but the biggest single avoidable menace to health in contemporary life, causing, all told, perhaps ten times as many deaths as road accidents and nearly as many deaths as all cancers unrelated to smoking put together.”
◆ Veterans of the Vietnam war are returning to the United States in growing numbers, and many are having difficulty in finding employment. In August, 211,000 were unemployed. One veteran remarked: “I think I should have a decent job. . . . They taught me to kill. That’s the only real skill I have.” This situation worries many officials, as they fear that unemployed veterans will join militant groups and use their deadly skills against the police.
Radios in Fish
◆ Hundreds of spawning salmon are being tracked by radio receivers along the Columbia River. They were pulled out of the water and a three-inch-long plastic capsule containing a miniaturized, battery-powered transmitter was put down the throat of each. After being put back into the water they are tracked by radio receivers. Each transmitter gives out its own beep code. By means of the transmitters scientists determine the navigational routes of the spawning fish.
◆ According to a report appearing in the San Francisco Chronicle of October 12, 1970, an “average of 3000 Protestant ministers a year have been leaving the church. Since 1965, 10,000 Roman Catholic priests have applied officially to the Vatican for return to status as laymen.” The paper went on to observe that it “is estimated that twice that number have left the priesthood without applying formally.”
Dangerous to Babies
◆ Pregnant women have been warned by Michigan Medicine, the journal of the Michigan State Medical Society, against eating fish that contains even small amounts of mercury. Because mercury tends to concentrate in the fetus, amounts considered safe for adults are dangerous for the fetus. Babies with brain damage have been born to mothers who have eaten fish containing mercury in amounts that did not affect the mothers. Genetic damage can also be caused by mercury in extremely low concentrations.
Dangerous for Bees
◆ When some large canning companies discontinued using DDT on their crops of corn and peas, they switched to a neural-acting insecticide. This was devastating for bees. Since they have elaborate nervous systems, they are highly sensitive to insecticides such as Sevin, Malathion and Parathion. Sevin seems to be more dangerous because it takes much longer to break down than the latter. The use of Sevin in Minnesota has resulted in bees’ dying in enormous numbers. This has hurt not only beekeepers but also farmers who raise alfalfa, fruit trees and other crops that benefit from the pollinating work of bees.
Mercury in Seals
◆ The livers of Alaskan fur seals have been found to contain 116 times the amount of mercury that is considered safe for human consumption. The seals live in deep water that is fifty miles or more off the Pacific coast of North America. Since they migrate along the coast between the Pribilof Islands in the Bering Sea and Baja California, they could have picked up the mercury from industrial wastes emptied into the Pacific Ocean. This is another indication of the extent to which man is polluting his environment. As one food company owner in California said: “You can just figure from this that there isn’t any place in the whole world that isn’t contaminated.”
130 Kilometers of Dead Fish
◆ A vast layer of dead fish several meters thick was found in the North Sea. (A meter is slightly longer than three feet.) It stretched for 130 kilometers (about 80 land miles or 70 nautical miles) between Scotland and Denmark. The nautical research vessel, Johan Njort, which discovered the fish traveled for ten hours before passing beyond them. When reporting this in its issue of October 19, 1970, Het Vrije Volk of the Netherlands observed that the fish had been killed by industrial wastes from industries processing synthetic materials. What is especially disturbing is that the fish were found in an area where they breed. Around the world man is ruining his environment.