Watching the World
“Green Revolution” Fading
◆ An editorial in the New York Times of January 2, 1973, painted a sobering picture of the “green revolution.” It observed: “Less than one year after agricultural experts were predicting a world rice glut as a result of the introduction of new ‘miracle’ seeds, there have been reports in recent weeks of widespread food shortage in Asia and parts of Africa. The great promise of the green revolution, which was never as green as it was sometimes pictured, appears to be fading.” Bad weather “has sharply cut crops this year in the Philippines, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand, Burma, India and African states bordering the Sahara Desert. . . . The return of favorable crop-growing weather next year would probably forestall any early worldwide food emergency. But the acute problems faced by many nations as a result of one year’s climatic vagaries are a sobering reminder of the persisting precariousness of the world’s food-population balance.”
◆ The Burns Security Institute reports that fifty-eight campus police chiefs are having more trouble with stealing than with bomb threats and demonstrations. A University of California detective sergeant remarked that college thieves “steal everything, even if it is nailed down. They take bulletin boards off the walls. They take office equipment that is chained or bolted down.” Wallets, watches, cameras, stereos, typewriters, adding machines and bicycles are snatched. One item usually ignored by thieves is textbooks. Also, campuses are rapidly becoming places of violent crimes and rape. Some colleges provide escort service for women going from their dormitories to the library.
Blood Transfusion Liability
◆ According to a recent court case in New Jersey, hospitals and blood banks are strictly liable for the death of a patient due to hepatitis from blood transfusion. It was pointed out that by putting blood on the commercial market, a blood bank makes itself liable. The court quoted an earlier case saying, “If the article [blood] left the defendant’s control in a dangerously unsafe condition, . . . defendant is liable whether or not he was at fault in creating that condition or in failing to discover and eliminate it.” Further, the court held, transfused blood is a “product”—not simply a “service”—and its transferal constitutes a sale.
Who Is to Blame?
◆ Jack E. Rooper, himself a minister and a religious writer, denounced the clergy for the failure of Christendom’s churches. He observed that “the local organized body which we call a church is nothing more than a big sham, a disgrace, and, in many instances, the laughing stock of the unsaved community.” And who did he say was responsible for this? “I believe the one major cause of the local church’s rapidly declining state rests entirely upon the shoulders of the pastors and evangelists. . . . The majority of the so-called pastors of today are nothing more than weak-kneed, yellow-bellied, greasy-tongued, two-faced, compromising excuses for preachers. . . . Most of the local pastors are nothing more than money-hungry, people-pleasing preachers; and because of this kind of pastors serving our local churches, it’s no wonder they are in such sad conditions. We don’t blame the common ordinary soldier for the condition of the army. No, we place the blame on the generals. If a company is losing money, we don’t place the blame on the employees; we say it is due to poor management. So the same principle holds true for the local church. If the attendance is falling off, zeal is diminishing, and the church is losing its influence in the community, then the responsibility must rest squarely on the shoulders of the pastors.”
◆ Worship of Mary in the Catholic Church is said to be declining. Eamon Carroll, Catholic professor of theology at the Washington, D.C., Catholic University, bemoaned the fact that there has been a “dramatic decline” in Marian devotion, such as public rosaries, novenas and other rites connected with Mariolatry. A few years ago these played a prominent role in the lives of Catholics. “To many,” he said, “it seems as if the elaborate structure of Marian piety suddenly collapsed.” He feels that it might be a result of the Catholic laity’s reaction to some of the debates on Mary’s place during the Second Vatican Council.
Nuclear Power Attacked
◆ The potential danger of nuclear power plants in the United States is causing grave concern among many. Recently, Ralph Nader, consumer advocate, joined the Union of Concerned Scientists in a statement expressing fears about building such plants near large metropolitan areas. “Although no nuclear explosion can occur, there is still the release of prodigious quantities of radioactive materials” if a loss-of-coolant accident happens. Nader said: “This is the first time that this country has permitted development of an industry that can wipe this country out. We spend billions on defense while creating a basic vulnerability here. There’s no responsibility. If a nuclear plant goes, who loses his job? Who goes to jail? Who’s fired? Nobody’s accountable.”
Rise of Heart Disease
◆ Until 1910 tuberculosis was the foremost cause of death among Americans. Pneumonia and other infectious diseases followed closely. The development of antibiotics reduced many of these diseases. The National Center for Health Statistics revealed that between 1911 and 1920 heart disease and tuberculosis were close contenders for first place as the leading killer in the United States. In 1921, 14 percent died from heart disease. But from 1921 onward, heart disease moved into the number one spot and increased its hold there over the years. Today 39 percent of all deaths in the nation are from heart trouble.
◆ It is estimated that about 130,000 persons have been killed by earthquakes around the world since 1950. The recent earthquake in Nicaragua has been assessed to have taken between 10,000 and 12,000 lives, according to government officials. Though the quake measured 6.2 on the Richter Scale, more powerful earthquakes have been measured in the past. One in Chile reached 9-9.2 on the scale. And the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906, 8.2 on the scale, is estimated to have had a force about a hundred times greater than the one that devastated Managua, Nicaragua. Fears are being expressed that San Francisco is due for another quake. According to B. A. Bolt, director of the seismographic station at the University of California, a 270-mile section of crystal rocks in California is strained “like a watch spring” and “one day they will snap, skidding the ground and everything on it a few feet forward.”
◆ Today many governments and peoples dispute over who owns what territory. This gives map makers problems. Border changes and new names of countries are coming so rapidly that they cannot get them on new maps. The formation of Bangladesh, and the difficulties between India and Pakistan, as well as Honduras and Nicaragua, along with other Latin-American disputes, are but a few situations that can quickly make maps outdated. Ceylon has taken up her old name Sri Lanka, and Cambodia has changed its name to the Khmer Republic. It will no doubt take a while before the map-reading public catches up.
Boy Scouts and Firearms
◆ Boy’s Life, a monthly magazine of the Boy Scouts of America, features 10-percent advertising for firearms and shells. Around Christmastime, the proportion is much greater, because, according to Associate Publisher Edward L. Kern, rifles are a ‘big seasonal selling item.’ December’s issue carried pictures of twenty-six different weapons, each glorifying trigger-pulling. Young boys are told to get their family to buy them a rifle. Fathers are also appealed to; one advertisement reads, “Remember your first 22? Make a kid happy this Christmas.” There were also ads for knives that snap open with the flick of a finger, a 24-pound navy cannon replica that “really shoots” and a midget pistol that fires tiny high-compression blanks. Out of twenty-seven ad pages, eight were devoted to lethal weapons and ammunition. Scout officials claim that, since “firearms are here to stay,” gun training and safety are important so boys that pick up a rifle will know “which end is which.”
Car Pollution-Control Failures
◆ The two most pollution-plagued states in America have been testing automobiles equipped with pollution-control devices. Results show that many of the devices are failing to control pollution. In New Jersey 30 percent of the 1970 cars and 25 percent of the 1971 cars did not meet the state’s moderate requirements. In California, where the standards are more stringent, 41 percent of the 1970 and 1971 models failed. In fact, 30 percent of all the automobiles tested there failed. The mechanisms designed to control pollution on the late-model cars are delicate and easily thrown out of kilter. Many mechanics do not know how to adjust or install them properly, further worsening the problem. In California over 50 percent of the pollution-control mechanisms installed in 1955-65 automobiles were not put in correctly.
Jordan River Polluted
◆ According to Yosef Tamir, Israel’s parliamentary committee on environment chairman, the Jordan River is turning into a ‘sewage drain.’ Below the Sea of Galilee, the water is unfit to drink due to the river’s being full of garbage and farming chemicals. He declared that every river in Israel is polluted and that “drastic action” must be taken now to save the Jordan.
What It Takes to Be President
◆ Ex-president of the United States Harry S. Truman died in December 1972. He once wrote to his daughter, Margaret, that to be a good president a man “can’t live the Sermon on the Mount.” He pointed out that a president “must be a Machiavelli, Louis XI of France, Caesar, Borgia . . . a liar, double-crosser, a hero and a what-not to be successful.”
Guests Being Counted
◆ The police in New Delhi, India, have been authorized to arrest any host who invites too many people to dinner and serves them too much food. The “Guest Control Order” allows up to twenty-five guests and a four-course meal. Marriages and funerals are exempt. Up to a hundred guests are allowed for these occasions. The four courses of food allowed must be no more than one meat dish, one vegetable dish, one rice dish and one dessert. Though the order has been in effect for over four years, now it is being strictly enforced. Why? It is an attempt to conserve food in anticipation of famine.
Japanese Getting Bigger
◆ Japan’s Education Ministry statistics reveal that Japanese children are getting bigger. A recent survey involving 340,000 children and youths, from nursery school to university, shows a marked growth pattern. Today’s 12-year-old Japanese boy is two and a half inches taller, ten pounds heavier, and an inch larger around his chest than a boy his age in 1962. For the same age the Japanese girl of today is two inches taller, eight pounds heavier, and one and a half inches larger around her chest. The growth is believed to be from changes in diet since the close of World War II in 1945.
Aviation Death Toll
◆ Statistics for 1972 show that it was the worst year on record for air crash deaths. More than 1,700 persons lost their lives on commercial flights. The previous record was in 1966, when just over 1,000 persons died.