Watching the World
Malawi’s Purge Continues
◆ Schoolchildren in the African country of Malawi are now required to carry membership cards for the ruling Malawi Congress Party. Students rushed home to get money for the cards when the surprise order was made known. Failure to comply meant no further schooling. Until now only children over age ten were required to hold cards. This is the latest action in a purge of nonparty members. With regard to previous actions of the Malawi Congress Party, The Rhodesia Herald reports: “People to suffer most have been members of the banned Jehovah’s Witnesses religious sect. They have refused to join the Party on the grounds of their religious beliefs.” About 20,000 Witnesses have been forced to flee into neighboring Zambia and Mozambique.
◆ A recent article in America, a Catholic magazine, entitled “The End of American Catholicism?” is based on a poll. Over one third of the Catholic population under the age of thirty who were questioned say that premarital sexual intercourse is not wrong. Most Catholics polled say abortion is sometimes proper. The clergy, America says, are incapable of handling the real issues of life; many are quitting. The article observes: “Whatever the end result, it can hardly be denied that there is evidence of a coming apart of the traditional, tightly knit organization of the Church. . . . The remarkable thing is that no outside foe destroyed us; we destroyed ourselves. . . . To paraphrase a remark of our good friend, the distinguished Mariologist Gregory Baum, if the Blessed Mother expects us American Catholics to survive this mess, she had better send us leaders and prophets . . . soon.
Rock Music at Jewish Services
◆ Jewish cantors recently meeting in Toronto, Canada, discussed the use of rock music to attract young people to their services. Cantor Howard Stahl, a graduate of New York’s Hebrew Union College, acknowledged that the idea is just “a gimmick,” but added: “It’s a holding pattern to get them into the synagogues—then you‘ve got a fighting chance.”
Competition and Cheating
◆ A recent symposium in the U.S. on ‘Sport and Ethics’ centered on the growing problem of cheating. Cheating, delegates agreed, is due to competitive pressures. Professor J. Keating of George Williams College in Chicago said: “Most of the moral problems posed by athletics can be traced to one single source—its highly competitive nature.” He added: “Deceit, lying, and hypocrisy all too often do follow in the wake of an intense competitive spirit.” According to W. Sadler of New Jersey’s Bloomfield College, adverse results of competition do not end on the playing field. He observed: “Competition is corrupting our nation. They say sports prepare us for life. I say, ‘What kind of life? The highly competitive and ruthless kind?’”
◆ An article in Medical World News, “Vasectomy Complications Aplenty,” warns that “this so-called very simple little procedure” is fraught with dangers. It enumerates cases of postoperative complications. A Los Angeles urologist, Arthur Schapiro, fastens blame on irresponsible doctors: “I have been amazed how many doctors don’t know much about the procedure, in fact don’t know enough to do a good job . . . We have got to stop people who are doing vasectomies for their own profiteering motive.” Other specialists are concerned with reported side effects: Men who had been in good health suddenly suffer blood clotting, prolonged fevers, enlarged lymph nodes and skin disorders. Psychological problems of a sexual nature have also been associated with the operation.
What’s Your Hurry?
◆ Little time is gained by taking risks on the highway, according to the Minnesota Safety Council. Recently two experimental drivers traveled the same 1,000-mile route. The fast driver passed 2,000 cars and braked 1,339 times. He made the trip in 20 hours and 12 minutes. The slow driver flowed with traffic, passing only 13 cars and braking just 652 times. It took him 20 hours and 43 minutes. The needless risks and accompanying nervous tension saved the fast driver only thirty-one minutes! Oh, yes, he also used ten gallons more gas than the slower car.
Evolutionary Guesswork Goes On
◆ Evolutionist Richard Leakey says their picture of man’s immediate ancestry may have to be changed again! The latest find comes from near Africa’s Lake Rudolph. Hundreds of fragments were pieced together into a skull that, Leakey is quoted as saying, “does not fit into any of the presently held theories of human evolution.” Does this skull differ from modern man? He observes: “The whole shape of the brain case is remarkably reminiscent of modern man, lacking the heavy and protruding eyebrow ridges and thick bone that are characteristic of Homo Erectus.” Leg specimens also found at the site, he admitted, “have astounded anatomists and other scientists because they are practically indistinguishable from the same bones of modern men.” Nevertheless, he claims the skull is over 2.5 million years old!
Stock Market Surge
◆ The major U.S. stock exchange indicators reached all-time highs in November. Most noted of these, the Dow Jones industrials, stayed past 1000 for the first time in its seventy-six-year history. The Dow Jones average is based on thirty major industrial stocks. The market rise is attributed to current peace efforts, President Nixon’s reelection, booming corporate profits and declining fears about inflation and taxes.
◆ Recent United States’ elections were apparently marked by many unfair tactics. S. J. Archibald says his Fair Campaign Practices Committee received 25 percent more complaints in 1972 than in 1968. Archibald claims that a record number of candidates tried to “distort the facts, to falsify political rhetoric, to misinterpret the facts.”
Crime in Harlem
◆ Crime rates in Harlem, an area inhabited primarily by blacks in New York city, continues to mount. Reported during six months of 1972 were 8,600 robberies, 9,000 burglaries, 3,300 acts of criminal assault and 200 homicides. Many crimes go unreported. Black writer Orde Coombs says, in New York magazine, that most crimes against blacks are perpetrated by other blacks. He refers to a Harlem black woman politician as saying that, next to one political opponent, “the person I fear most in the world is the ghetto black teenager.” Drug addiction is behind much of the crime. Coombs says: “The addicts of Harlem now control more turf than they did ten years ago in spite of the millions of dollars spent for rehabilitative programs.” He observes: “Harlem—our community—has become one of the most dangerous places in the world.”
Pastor Aids Communists
◆ In Kentucky the presbytery of Louisville-Union endorsed the right of a pastor to help the Communist party by serving as an elector. T. H. Davis of the Grace-Hope Presbyterian Church claims he is not a Communist. He defended his stand by saying: “I believe that all political points of view and parties have a right to be heard and debated in the marketplace of ideas, and to put forth a candidate for public office.”
Religion in the Sixties
◆ Why, suddenly, have U.S. churches reached what many call a state of despair? Yale University historian S. E. Ahlstrom’s new book A Religious History of the American People shows that radical changes occurred in the 1960’s. What happened? A Catholic president was elected and murdered. Pope John introduced changes to his church, but conservative Pope Paul has not followed through. Protestants were shocked by Supreme Court decisions on religious ceremonies in schools. Civil rights movements and war in Southeast Asia forced most churches to take sides. The “death of God” movement accompanied a “great moral revolution.” Long developing industrial and urban problems came to a head, altering people’s old loyalties. Says Ahlstrom: “The decade of the sixties was a time, in short, when the old foundations . . . were awash.”
Homemade Nuclear Bombs
◆ Greater control of nuclear materials is necessary, the American Nuclear Society has been told. Otherwise, warns the University of Virginia’s Professor M. Willrich, small nations, gangsters and even mentally disturbed individuals will build their own atomic bombs. He says know-how to build an A-bomb is no longer secret. “Most experts consider the design and manufacture of a crude nuclear explosive device without previous access to classified data to be no longer an extremely difficult task technically.” Willrich therefore argues that plutonium and uranium 235, which are increasingly available, world wide, come under tighter restrictions.
Worldwide “Crime Crisis”
◆ Secretary-general Waldheim has asked the UN General Assembly to cope with a world “crime crisis of growing proportions.” He refers to “the ever-rising tide of known homicides, robberies, burglaries and sex offenses which plague so many areas of the world.” His report cites figures from Canada, Poland, Uganda, Japan and other countries. Wealthy countries are the most plagued. Waldheim calls for new approaches to crime control.
Keeping Your Balance
◆ A current report referred to in Ski magazine observes that cold weather often affects balance. In experiments the inner ear, man’s primary balance sensing device, was paralyzed when cold water was placed in the outer ear. Therefore, outdoorsmen recommend wearing earmuffs to improve cold-weather balance.
Amazon River Water
◆ Amazon River waters, a recent U.S. Geological Survey says, are purer than “most of the tap water in the United States.” The survey claims that at some places Amazon waters have “a chemical purity nearly equivalent to that of distilled water.” The Amazon’s flow at Óbidos, Brazil, has been measured at four billion gallons per minute. Average flow is four times as great as Africa’s Congo River and ten times that of the United States’ Mississippi River. Amazon water is said to account for 15 percent of the fresh water discharged into the oceans by all the world’s rivers.
◆ Last winter snowmobiles, the National Safety Council says, were responsible for at least 164 deaths in the United States.
What Are Americans Drinking?
◆ American taste seems to be shifting from hot drinks to cold. Per capita coffee consumption dropped from 15.8 pounds in 1960 to 13.2 pounds in 1971; soft-drink consumption soared 80 percent in this same period. All kinds of wine drinking increased 50 percent in the last five years. Effervescent wine, including champagne and inexpensive carbonated fruit wines, became a favorite during this time, rising 168 percent.
◆ Russians are smoking more cigarettes than ever. Last year Soviet smokers spent 3 billion rubles (equal to about $3.6 billion), twice the amount spent a. decade ago. Few Russians have dropped their cigarette habit in spite of intensive publicity against it by the government. Communist party leader Leonid I. Brezhnev has a special cigarette case that opens only once every 45 minutes. “Yesterday,” he observed recently, “using this system I was able to smoke only 17 cigarettes.”