Watching the World
Churches in Turmoil
◆ Church leaders and political authorities world wide are concerned about radical clergymen. Sermons extolling the Cuban revolutionary Ché Guevara have been delivered in Catholic churches in the Netherlands. In Argentina, a Methodist layman said: “At our Union Seminary here, Ché Guevara is more of a hero than Jesus Christ.” In West Germany, many young Protestant pastors have joined the Communist party. And about a hundred small “progressive” movements have been formed among Italian clergymen. In Africa, religious leaders are colliding with leaders of newly formed governments. The racial policies of many governments have led to divisions among churches, as some support such policies while others condemn them.
“Life” Magazine Folds
◆ After losing more than $30 million in four years, Life magazine has ceased publication. In fifteen years, Look, The Saturday Evening Post, Colliers and now Life have all gone out of print. An official cited the reasons for Life’s demise as rising postal rates, television competition and predictable heavy losses in the future.
Last U.S. Moon Mission
◆ What was billed as the final moon mission sponsored by the United States began when a Saturn 5 rocket launched the Apollo 17 moon-ship into space. For the sixth time men walked on the moon. No future U.S. moon trips are now scheduled. The entire moon project cost about $25 billion.
Soviet Crop Failure
◆ A grain shortage was apparently one reason for recent cooperation between the great powers. Published statistics show for the first time how serious was this year’s Russian grain crop failure. It forced Soviet authorities to purchase grain from abroad to ensure enough for domestic use and also to save the nation’s livestock.
Smoking and Driving
◆ The National Safety Council’s manager of motor transportation, John J. Flaherty, warns that smoking while driving impedes a driver’s effectiveness. Even auto passengers who smoke increase the chances of an accident. This is because the oxygen reduction can become the same as when flying at an altitude of 8,000 feet. This affects vision. Additionally, a group of doctors studied ten drivers with heart ailments as they drove through heavy traffic on the Los Angeles freeway. They found that small amounts of carbon monoxide aggravated the heart condition of these persons for at least two hours afterward. Their situation is made even more harmful if they smoke while driving. When pure air was substituted during their drive over the same route, their condition did not worsen. An estimated 1.8 million Americans have angina pectoris, a common heart condition.
Prison Inmates Pay for Crimes
◆ An experiment is being conducted at Sweden’s prison factory at Tillberga. The 98 inmates there are being paid a monthly salary of about $260. They make wooden houses for a government firm and their products are sold on the open market at regular prices. With their earnings the prisoners pay for their “board and lodging” and any entertainment. Also, they are obligated to pay damages awarded to victims and the state by the courts. This may include alimony.
Vietnam’s Loss of Lives
◆ It is estimated that during the past decade 1.3 million persons died in Vietnam. The number of civilian casualties in North Vietnam cannot be ascertained. However, during the 1965-68 bombings it was estimated that 1,000 North Vietnamese were killed and injured weekly. The war has cost America 5105 billion since 1965.
Allegiance Question Upheld
◆ The United States Court of Appeals has upheld a New York state schoolteacher’s “right to remain silent” during the pledge of allegiance to the flag. The teacher’s views were not based on religious convictions. Rather, she personally believes that the statement “liberty and justice for all” does not reflect the quality of life in the United States and that it would be hypocritical for her to recite such words.
◆ An estimated 40,000 clergymen spend $1 million to purchase prepared sermons from a dozen firms. One Catholic priest in Chicago, Illinois, said: “Frankly I don’t have the time or the training to produce a quality sermon each week. I don’t think I’m shortchanging my congregation if I find something suitable from an outside source.” But religious writer Lester Kinsolving observes that congregations might ask of such ministers: “Was his seminary training comprised of theology—or was it limited to instruction in reading? Why can’t the parish save on its budget by eliminating the minister’s salary in favor of mailing mimeographed copies of his sermon-service to the parishioners at home—while replacing his pastoral counseling with special subscriptions to either Dear Abby or Ann Landers [advice columns in newspapers]?”
Methodist Membership Drops
◆ The Methodist Church in Victoria and Tasmania, Australia, reports that its membership over the past five years has dropped 5 percent. Decrease in the Melbourne area was 7 percent. In 1967 there were 56,406 Methodists in Victoria, but at the end of 1971 there were 53,529.
◆ In Awake! of December 8, 1972, a report was made about the concern of firemen that tall buildings can be firetraps. Elevators could jam, stairs, ducts and pipes could suck up flames in minutes and fire ladders might be too short. When that issue of the magazine was being received by subscribers, a tall building in New Orleans caught fire; the firemen’s fears were confirmed. The ladders were three stories too short and were unable to reach persons trapped. Four died; three jumped off the building and the other was found suffocated in a stairwell. Two helicopters rescued eight persons just before the roof caved in.
Sewage for Fuel?
◆ Chemists at Clarkson College of Technology in New York are studying how to convert sewage into fuel oil. They say that animal and human feces, after treatment, can be cooked into a low-sulfur oil. Americans and their pets could supply enough to produce 1.7 billion gallons of this oil annually, it was estimated. If it could be done cheaply, sewage could be a source of supply for much of the country’s natural fuel. But it may not come in time. Top Atomic Energy Commission official John F. O’Leary predicts that oil and gasoline will come under rationing within the next year. He is not optimistic about other exotic sources of supply. He points out that such would not be feasible commercially before the year 2000. However, turning off lights and other appliances when not needed and keeping radiators off and thermostats low whenever possible cuts down fuel waste.
Birds in Peril
◆ Nesting birds along the Texas coastline are declining in number. In 1969 the major breeding areas showed a figure of 11,500. But in 1970 the number had dropped to 8,800. Pesticides and mercury used to treat rice seeds have cut the population of the white-faced ibis, a marsh bird. In 1970, ibis chicks were found dead with high levels of mercury and pesticide in their brains. Researchers report that the entire number of chicks was “virtually wiped out” that year.
◆ College students in Canada are being given a powerful ‘morning-after’ birth-control pill “by the bucket,” according to the Canadian Medical Association. The pills, taken for five days, are effective if begun seventy-two hours after intercourse. Such pill taking is evidence of the deepening moral breakdown on campuses today. However, medical authorities say a drug utilized in the pill, diethylstilbestrol (DES), has been linked with cancer. When residues of DES were found in beef livers, the government suspended its use on cattle. U.S. scientists report that young women whose mothers had been given DES developed a rare form of vaginal cancer.
◆ Since a child’s head is large in relation to his weak neck muscles, shaking him can cause neck injuries or break blood vessels in his brain. Dr. John Caffey of Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh pointed out that the shaking of children can break arm or leg bones. There is the risk of mental retardation, injury to eyes and even death. Some injuries can be likened to “whiplash” in automobile accidents. The doctor noted that shaking children is a common practice of many adults.
◆ The Ontario Medical Association in Canada is trying to learn what people think about their doctors. They want to bridge the growing gap separating the public and physicians. Further, the American Heart Association was recently asked to consider the use of an ombudsman between doctors and patients. This go-between, a “physician-friend,” would interpret the treatment to the patient acting in his behalf. One aspect of the problem was highlighted by the words of a London doctor: “I run my medical practice strictly as a business. You’re either ill or you’re not. I have no time for the person who can’t square up to his domestic problems, acquires a headache and then expects me to sit and listen while he spews up his misery across my desk.”
No TV for Tots
◆ Dr. Manuel Suarez-Perdeguero, well-known pediatrician in Spain, declares: “Television is definitely harmful for children under four or five years of age.” He said that this is an “internationally accepted” view. Gamma rays from an ordinary television set can be detrimental to a small child’s rapidly developing brain. TV image vibrations can cause vision problems in later years. There is danger to the child’s personality from watching violence. And the positions he may take for extended periods can hurt his physical development. The doctor also observed that television limits the imagination of young children.
Health Care Problems Universal
◆ Receiving medical attention is becoming a major problem in many nations. In the United States, nonemergency cases often overcrowd hospital emergency rooms. The Soviet Union has a special telephone hot line for ambulance calls and emergency medical care. However, abuses of it are causing long delays for patients. People, not wanting to wait at clinics, call on the ambulance service. At least 20 percent of the ambulance calls are said to be unnecessary. In Communist China the need for doctors is so great that authorities have cut down the medical education curriculum to three or three and a half years.
Ear Clips Stop Dental Pain
◆ Soviet dentists have a new way of cutting down pain when drilling teeth. A new electrical anesthetic machine has been developed. Before beginning to drill, the dentist attaches a light plastic clip to the patient’s ear. The clip is one pole of an electrical circuit. The other pole of the circuit is at the end of the dentist’s drill. When the circuit is completed through the head of the patient, the pain signal from the tooth to the brain is blocked. One patient described how it felt: “I was sitting rigidly, waiting for acute pain, but there wasn’t any. There was only a tickling sensation in my tooth.”