Watching the World
Disaster in Pakistan
◆ The devastating cyclone and tidal wave that hit East Pakistan in November are being called the twentieth century’s worst “natural” disaster. Estimates of the number dead run from 175,000 to half a million or more. However, the extent of the disaster is reflected, not only in the number of dead, but also in the pitiful conditions faced by the survivors.
Living Cell Created?
◆ Newspaper headlines late in 1970 declared: ‘Biologists Report Synthesis of Living Cell.’ This gave some the impression that scientists had created a living cell. But nothing of the kind had taken place. What Buffalo, New York, scientists had done was to dismember one-celled amoebas and then put them back together using parts of other amoebas. When different strains of amoebas were used, most died out.
Peking Wins Majority
◆ For the first time since balloting began in 1950, Communist China won a majority of votes in the annual attempt to seat her in the United Nations. The vote was 51 to 49, with 25 nations abstaining. However, since a two-thirds majority is required, Peking fell short by 16 votes. But the trend is unmistakable, and some predict U.N. membership for Communist China within a few years.
Communist Leader at Vatican
◆ Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko had what was described as “an unusually long audience with Pope Paul” at the Vatican. Some observers took Gromyko’s visit as another sign of the Vatican’s attempts to improve relations with the communists. Communist Yugoslavia and the Vatican had renewed diplomatic relations in August.
Churches Bless Marxist
◆ After the new Marxist president, Dr. Salvador Allende Gossens, had taken the oath of office before Chile’s Congress, all of the traditional religions in the country gathered together in the Santiago cathedral to give thanks to God. In the presence of many Communist delegations, among the seventy-five nations represented, Cardinal Raúl Silva Henriquez applied the prophecies of Isaiah 57:14, 15; 58:6 and Isa 61:1 to the new Marxist government. He declared that “the kingdom we are awaiting for begins to be built here.” Five prayers imploring God’s blessing on the new government were read by a Catholic monsignor, a Lutheran pastor, Episcopal, Methodist and Pentecostal bishops.
‘Churches Reject Christ’
◆ Lay theologian William Stringfellow stated that “the apostasy of the contemporary American churches is so like the original rejection of Christ . . . by the Jews.” He added: “It is the awful, if appropriate, fate of white churches to be so burdened by inherited, cumulative, corporate guilt—for genocide, slavery, war, waste, greed—that they become incapacitated to confront, confess and be freed from the guilt.”
Religious Recession Deepens
◆ Religious commentator Louis Cassels wrote: “‘We’re having the worst [religious] recession in 25 years, and I don’t see any recovery in sight,’ said a prominent church leader. He happened to be an Episcopalian, but the same statement could be made about many other major denominations. The religious recession has been developing for several years. It is reflected in virtually every available index of public interest in religion.”
◆ Baptist church historian H. L. McManus of Georgia acknowledged the decline of the major religions, but then said: “Some fringe groups eventually become big denominations, which is what very likely will happen to the Jehovah’s witnesses, now becoming one of the great Protestant denominations. It’s growing phenomenally.” Of course, Jehovah’s witnesses are not a “Protestant” denomination, but his description of their growth is accurate. In 1970, while most churches showed declines in priests and ministers, Jehovah’s witnesses increased more than 10 percent world wide, reaching a peak of over 1,480,000 active ministers in 206 lands.
A Cold Preventive
◆ Dr. Linus Pauling of Stanford University declared that the common cold can be successfully prevented or treated by large doses of vitamin C, ascorbic acid. He stated that where experiments did not show good results, the amount used had been too small. He suggested that for financial reasons many drug manufacturers and medical journals have tried to hide evidence that vitamin C is beneficial in preventing and treating colds. Dr. Pauling recommended one or two grams a day for cold prevention, and when a cold occurs, four grams a day until the symptoms disappear.
◆ As of July 1, 1970, the world’s population was an estimated 3,550,000,000 persons. That represented an increase of 72 million in one year, an average of about 200,000 persons a day.
Health Gains Menaced
◆ Gains in the health of people in ‘developing’ countries are menaced by their huge population rise, said Dr. Abraham Horwitz of Chile. He noted that Latin America’s population growth is among the world’s highest, tending to cancel out any improvement in health because poverty and low living standards soon interfere.
Pope Restates Ban
◆ Pope Paul VI strongly restated the Catholic Church’s ban on all forms of birth control except abstinence. His remarks came during a visit to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome. Later in the same session the organization’s director general, A. H. Boerma of the Netherlands, warned that the world was threatened “with being overwhelmed by the sheer weight of numbers of its inhabitants.” In a letter to the meeting, Norman E. Borlaug, Nobel Peace Prize winner in agriculture, wrote: “If the world’s population continues to increase at the same rate, we will destroy the species.”
Wall Street Shaken
◆ Wall Street, America’s financial center, has been undergoing its greatest shaking since the depression that began in 1929. Eighty member firms of the New York Stock Exchange have gone out of business since the start of 1969, casualties of the current economic recession.
Skyrocketing Welfare Rolls
◆ The number of persons on welfare in the United States has reached an all-time high of 12.4 million. This was an increase of 2 million, or 20 percent, in just one year. The cost of relief has doubled in the past five years, reaching $12,000,000,000 annually.
Layoffs of Scientists
◆ Cutbacks in the American aerospace program, as well as in defense and research, have brought the demand for scientists and engineers to the lowest level in at least ten years. One employment agency official said: “I’ve been in this business nine years, and I’ve never seen anything like it . . . Companies suddenly find there is no work for men in the $30,000 to $40,000 range, and no one wants them.”
◆ The Federal Bureau of Investigation described shoplifting as the “fastest-growing larceny” in the United States. Cases of shoplifting have tripled since 1959. Retail store owners claim that prices could be cut 15 percent if it were not for these thefts.
◆ The head of the Dallas, Texas, Criminal Bar Association, Emmet Colvin, criticized the theory that more courts and stiffer jail sentences could end crime. He stated that a main element in rising crime is that “we’re in a fatherless society today.” He said that fathers are too busy with other things and do not spend enough time with their children to provide sound guidance. Is that true in your household?
Venereal Disease Epidemic
◆ Dr. William L. Fleming of the University of North Carolina stated that venereal disease is now out of control in America. Similarly, Oklahoma’s public health adviser, John Underwood, said that gonorrhea is “out of control.” More than 1.5 million new cases of gonorrhea were expected for 1970. In some areas, syphilis increased 50 percent in one year.
Drug Use Spreading
◆ A New York Chamber of Commerce official reports that drug use by company employees has increased so sharply that it rivals alcoholism as a problem. And younger drug users are being joined by more older persons. Dr. J. M. Lewis of Texas notes that older persons are using drugs as a “social lubricant” or as a “tranquilizer.” He stated: “People are more and more inclined toward chemical solutions to everyday problems.” However, this is not leading to any solutions, because the problems mount and so do the number of drug users.
“Out of Control”
◆ Drug use is not just an American problem. London’s Daily Mail declared: “Illegal drug use is today virtually out of control.” It noted the alarm of a senior police officer who warned: “If all the drug squads of all the police forces in the country [Britain] were to be combined they would still not be able to cope with even London’s addicts.”
Addicted at Birth
◆ A two-day-old baby in a Philadelphia hospital suffered from drug withdrawal symptoms due to its mother’s heroin addiction. Addiction at birth is becoming a medical problem due to the increased use of drugs.
Growing Toll of Wildlife
◆ Audubon magazine reports that whales have now been added to the list of marine animals having high levels of DDT in their bodies. Also, a bald eagle that fell to earth in Minnesota had nearly three times the lethal amount of mercury in its tissues. And of 500 mating pairs of brown pelicans on California’s Anacapa Islands, only one young was produced last summer, due to high pesticide levels that upset their reproductive systems.
Stork Numbers Decline
◆ Denmark reports that its national bird, the stork, has declined in numbers so rapidly that it is nearing extinction. A century ago about 10,000 storks arrived each spring from North Africa. In 1970 only 70 pairs arrived.
Sea Lions Contaminated
◆ Dead sea lions washed ashore on California beaches contained the highest DDT content ever noted in sea life. The pesticide count ran to 3,900 parts per million. High mercury counts were also found in the sea lions.
Propane Gas for Taxis
◆ A London taxicab company is converting its taxis to run on bottled propane gas. They average about 200 miles for a cylinder of gas, which is replenished from large storage tanks. The gas is a by-product of crude oil refining. It is said to emit less chemical waste, has about the same mileage performance as diesel oil and gasoline, and is cheaper.
Too Many Operations?
◆ An editorial in the Medical World News says: “There are twice as many surgeons, in proportion to population, in the U.S. as there are in England and Wales, and proportionately they do twice as many operations.” According to the National Center for Health Statistics, about 14 million surgical operations were done in the United States in 1965, which is 7,400 operations for each 100,000 people, compared with 1,700,000 operations in England and Wales—3,370 per 100,000 people. Did United States’ residents really need twice as many operations as did the British?