Watching the World
Decline of “Christian Century”
◆ Christian Century, a prominent Protestant journal, is struggling to survive. Rising production and mailing costs are blamed. However, domestic circulation in just five years has dropped from about 37,000 to a low 30,000. A new editor plans economy moves and appeals for contributions.
Pope Looks to UN
◆ Pope Paul VI declared in mid-December that “peace is possible.” In a message focusing attention on human efforts, he spoke of the need for strong international peacekeeping agencies: “These institutions, and first among them the United Nations, have been established. . . . A positive and worldwide hope recognizes them as instruments of international order, of solidarity and of brotherhood among the peoples. In these institutions peace finds its own home and its own workshop.” But suppose these ‘peace institutions’ do not work? According to the pope: “If their inefficiency were to cause fatal disillusionment in the minds of men, peace would thereby be defeated, and with it the progress of civilization.”
◆ A major earthquake devastated Managua, capital of the central American republic of Nicaragua, in late December. A major portion of the city was completely demolished by the quake, which measured 6.25 on the Richter scale, equivalent in energy to about fifty atom bombs. The exact death toll is indefinite, estimates ranging from five to ten thousand and more. A six-second quake devastated Managua in 1931, and major tremors took place there in the nineteenth century. ‘Why did the people rebuild the city in a known quake zone?’ asks the New York Times. It adds: “Of course, the same question has to be asked of people who live in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Tokyo and many other great cities where similar danger signals abound. . . . Such recurrent tragedies can only be avoided if the lessons of history and of science are taken seriously rather than ignored.”
Food Conditions World Wide
◆ American food costs continue to rise. For instance, at wholesale level, number two hard wheat is now $2.61 per bushel, up over 60 percent from $1.62 a year ago; eggs are up 40 percent. Meat prices have risen 17.8 percent in the last year in France. Meanwhile Asia faces famine. Parts of the continent are already famished. The South China Morning News reports on Afghanistan: “The country has just been through the worst famine in its history, only partially reported to the outside world. No one will probably ever know just what happened, because of primitive communications inside the country. But the suffering has been enormous according to eye-witness accounts, with large numbers of people forced to leave their villages and some dying on the roadsides.” The report concludes: “To talk of peace in the area with the prospect that tens of thousands may starve by spring is nothing short of ridiculous.”
More Bloodless Surgery
◆ Leading U.S. surgeons are turning away from the use of blood transfusions. Houston surgeon D. Cooley has performed 110 heart operations on Jehovah’s witnesses without blood. He claims that 30 percent of all his open-heart surgery is without donor blood transfusions, though he also observes: “the fact is evident now that most major surgery can be done without transfusion.” J. H. Kay of Los Angeles says that 45 to 50 percent of his patients no longer receive donor blood during heart surgery. He cites as advantages: no risk of serum hepatitis, less bleeding after the operation, and shorter hospital stays. S. Dudrick of the University of Pennsylvania advocates building up the patient’s blood before and after surgery rather than by using transfusions. He says: “We don’t throw around a bottle of blood willy-nilly anymore.”
◆ Some of a group of sixteen plane-crash survivors in the Andes admit they cannibalistically ate parts of the bodies of twenty-nine persons who were killed in the crash. The group endured 69 days in temperatures as low as nine degrees below zero. One survivor, a member of a Uruguayan rugby team, compared the cannibalism to “a heart transplant.” Two New York Roman Catholic theologians have since called the comparison “not unreasonable,” observing that the survivors “acted justifiably.”
◆ Women seem to be catching up to men as “sudden death risks.” According to Brooklyn pathologist D. M. Spain, about thirteen years ago men under fifty-one years of age were twelve times as vulnerable to heart attacks as women; the figure is now only five. Some have blamed stress. He says, “My particular study, however, has zeroed in on smoking.” Other adverse effects of smoking are pointed to by a British study showing that only one cigarette per day adversely affects fetal development in pregnancy. This study reveals that among smoking mothers there is a 30-percent increase in deaths of newborn infants, lower birth weights, doubled risk of congenital heart defects, and a persistent lag in later development.
◆ Between 1965 and 1968 in five of the American cities hit by racial riots there were 123 deaths, about 14,000 arrests and some 171 million dollars’ worth of damage. Soon Federal and local agencies poured over 250 million dollars into the same areas for reconstruction. With what results? U.S. News & World Report says: “A stranger driving through Newark [New Jersey] might think the city’s bloody race riot happened only last week instead of more than five years ago. . . . Today the Twelfth Street scene [in Detroit, Michigan] looks depressingly like it did six years before,” at the time of the riot. Washington, D.C., has budgeted 137 million dollars for reconstruction; most of this has gone into the downtown business district. A city council representative in Watts (Los Angeles) laments: “Nothing really has been done. In seven years nothing . . . nothing for the people.”
What Were You Saying?
◆ The average Englishman speaks 76 words per minute, according to a British professor studying the subject. And English women? His data reveals that they speak an average of 105 words per minute.
Sterner Seat-Belt Laws
◆ More stringent seat-belt laws are appearing throughout the motorized world. Australia now has a law making seat-belt use mandatory; casualties have been reduced. New Zealand and parts of the U.S. have followed this example. It is estimated that about one third of the lap belts and less than 4 percent of the shoulder belts in U.S. cars are used. New American cars have buzzers and flashing lights that signal when a car is driven with unbuckled belts. In Sweden, analysis of almost 30,000 accidents revealed no fatal injuries even up to 60 miles per hour when occupants wore both lap and shoulder belts.
Americans “Massively Addicted”
◆ Evidence mounts that Americans are, as Wisconsin Senator G. Nelson says, “massively addicted to taking drugs whether we need them or not.” Possibly one million Americans are hooked on barbiturates alone as a result of doctor-prescribed pills. This is said to lead to some two thousand deaths annually, loss of limbs due to gangrene, and a tendency to violence. As to doctors, the Wall Street Journal says “the medical profession [is] one of the most drug-prone groups in America.” From 1 to 5 percent of the profession are thought to be addicted to barbiturates or amphetamines. The rate for the general public (including heroin) is .3 percent. Availability of drugs for doctors is considered one of the main reasons for the high rate.
Teen-Age Girls and Sex
◆ An American survey of over 4,000 unmarried teen-age girls indicates that 46 percent engaged in sexual intercourse. Eleven percent of the farm girls had had such sexual experience, though the figure rises rapidly once they move into the city. Washington state reports that more than one third of its legal abortions are for teen-agers.
“Have We Gone Mad?”
◆ British historian Arnold Toynbee has spoken out once more against nationalism and in favor of world government. He observes: “Since the end of World War II nationalism has doubled the number of local sovereign independent states and has halved their average size. . . . Mankind’s strategic and hygienic problems are global and they are pressing; they cannot be solved by the governments of local states. They call for the establishment of a global authority endowed with overriding power. Mankind’s survival demands political unity, yet mankind’s present mood is increasingly divisive. Have we gone mad?”
◆ Hitchhiking is connected with many crimes in the U.S. Minneapolis has about eight serious hitchhiking incidents in a year; Los Angeles about three per day. Women appear to be one fourth of the hitchhiking population now; as a result, more sex crimes are involved. A police captain in Maryland says female hitchhikers “practically invite rape.” In 1971 in Los Angeles 22 percent of all rapes and 4.7 percent of all robberies were connected with hitchhiking. Neither offending drivers nor riders fit one pattern of dress or behavior.
◆ The Apollo moon series left about a half billion dollars’ worth of “junk” behind on the lunar surface. On just one mission, for instance, space men abandoned a “moon buggy” worth two million dollars; hand tools and carrier, $45,000; two portable life-support systems, at $300,000 each; antenna, $125,000; and parts of a lunar lander, worth $50 million dollars. To make room for rock and soil samples, each astronaut disposed of a $4,000 pair of boots. Sleeping hammocks were $4,000. Each television camera disposed of cost $90,000, and movie cameras, $50,000.
◆ In London, the chief medical officer of the Education Ministry reports that nearly a quarter of a million British youngsters have lice in their hair. He says: “With long hair now popular among both sexes and the habit of boys and girls walking along with arms entwined around each other’s necks, spread of infestation is to be expected.”
Peru’s Anchovy Crisis
◆ The Peruvian government is again allowing limited anchovy fishing. A mysterious warm current caused the fish to disappear last April. Anchovies are a prime source of fish meal and fish oil, annually a $400-million industry in Peru, the world’s major exporter of fish products. The government has been forced to allow fishing to fill foreign contracts already signed for some 400,000 metric tons of fish meal.
◆ The Los Angeles Times reports that the number of Orthodox Jews in the city dropped from an estimated 49,250 in 1960 to 29,200 in 1970.
Common Market Expands
◆ Three more nations officially came into the European Economic Community or Common Market at the start of the year. Britain, Ireland and Denmark joined the original six members: France, West Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.