Watching the World
Sentenced in Lithuania
◆ Nine witnesses of Jehovah were arrested in Soviet Lithuania, behind the Iron Curtain. Four of them were sentenced to five years in labor camps. The others received lesser sentences. The accused were charged with building an underground organization in order to print and distribute Bible study literature. Sovietskaya Litva, the Lithuanian Communist newspaper, reported that Jehovah’s witnesses throughout the Soviet Union are ‘highly efficient in arranging secret meetings for Bible readings, smuggling literature into the country, reproducing and distributing it.’
◆ The head of the investigative division of Guardsmark Incorporated, in Memphis, Tennessee, Mark Lipman, has spent nearly forty years studying employee thievery. He estimates that today at least half the people working in factories and offices steal. Such thefts are rising 15 to 20 percent every year. The problem is worsened when employers refuse to face the fact that employee dishonesty is so widespread. This prevents any significant curbing of losses. “We have many examples of employers,” he noted, “who refuse to believe our proof that their employees are stealing, because they are so highly trusted.” And the criminals are not the typical “bad guy” that employers visualize, but “Mr. Average Citizen—married, two or three kids, lives in a decent community, plays bridge with the neighbors, goes to church, and his boss likes him. He works hard, too.”
Homosexual Churches Expand
◆ Four and a half years ago a homosexual church denomination was founded in Los Angeles, California. Since then the denomination, now known as the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, has increased to a membership of 15,000, with 43 congregations in 19 states and one in England. Further, the homosexual denomination has ordained 68 clergymen and 125 deacons and is training 40 students. Among its clergy are two Roman Catholic priests, a Greek Orthodox clergyman and a lesbian pastor. The homosexual denomination plans to apply for membership in the National Council of Churches.
Catholicism Still Declining
◆ The number of priests in Newfoundland’s St. John’s archdiocese has fallen “critically low,” according to the archdiocese’s paper, The Monitor. The 90,000 Catholics in 38 parishes are being served at present by only 55 diocesan clergymen. Also, there are only nine seminary students, a sharp drop from previous years. The largest Roman Catholic country, Brazil, is also having clergy problems. A recent survey shows that its ratio of priests to laymen is one of the lowest in the world, one to every 6,000. Since 1968 the number of priests in this land has steadily declined. Parish priests, monks, friars, Catholic school professors and administrators now total a little over 15,000 in a land whose population is about 100,000,000. Many seminaries and parochial schools are closing. Brazil’s Catholic primate bemoaned, “There is a crisis.”
◆ Recently, the National Clergy Council on Alcoholism pointed out that about 12 percent of the United States’ 58,000 priests are “problem drinkers.” The conference coordinator said that alcoholism “is as widespread among priests as it is among lay people. That is unfortunate but that is the situation.” As for convents, “alcoholism is more prevalent than people know,” said a nun who admitted to being a longtime member of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Sports Hero Worship
◆ Dr. Thomas Tutko, psychology professor at California State University in San Jose, conducted a study involving 40,000 athletes. He concludes that today’s sports heroes are poor examples for youngsters to emulate. “We have,” he said, “wife-swapping, greed and fights more immature than the kids themselves would start.” He further pointed out that today’s sports idols “project a win-or-else attitude that kids copy. I have no doubt that their language reflects their attitude: ‘Kill ’em! Zap ’em!’ The coach who loses the Super Bowl says, ‘Losing is like dying.’” This example, says Dr. Tutko, is “destructive to children and other young athletes.” Professional sports, he believes, have made each of their stars a “God, but he is not God, he is selfish, greedy and interested only in himself.”
World Crop Shortage
◆ An editorial in the Star and Herald, a Panamanian newspaper, reveals the seriousness of the current food shortage. After pointing out that shortages in harvests have been disastrous in some lands, it observes: “Even the ‘green revolution’ of new seed strains and farming techniques has been stopped by shortages. Severe shortages have forced such major consumers as Russia, China and India into world markets to buy up any quantity of grains they can find. This has pushed up prices and placed a burden on underdeveloped countries which rely upon producers elsewhere for basic food necessities. It is too early to predict what harvests will be like in many countries this year, but the damage already caused by the world food chain may take as long as a decade of favorable crops to repair. Another disastrous year following the last two would put a severe pinch [on] resources of food-poor countries. India, one of those supposed to have benefited most from advanced farming technology, in January had to purchase $200 million worth of grain. In that one exchange, India spent nearly one-fifth of its foreign exchange reserves. And so far there is no proof that 1973 will be a good world crop year.”
Paid Not to Raise Crops
◆ Last year 12,309 “farms” in the United States were paid the total of $411.8 million for not raising crops. In Hawaii, eleven companies were subsidized to the extent of 10 million dollars for not growing sugar. In Texas alone 5,191 farmers received $172 million for not producing wheat, grains, cotton and feed. The list of farmers being paid to keep their soil idle includes prison farms, universities, coal companies, an insurance company and an aluminum corporation.
Marijuana and Breast Deformity
◆ Doctors at the Cambridge Hospital in Boston say that smoking marijuana contributes to development of female breasts in men. Tests were made on two men who regularly smoked marijuana several hours each day for several years. It seems that the chemical composition of marijuana’s active ingredient, 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is very much like that of the female hormone estradiol. Other cases have since supported these findings.
VD Spiraling Upward
◆ The American Social Health Association reports that during 1972 gonorrhea reached a record high. And syphilis cases were more numerous than in any year since 1950. William L. Fleming, chairman of the committee that prepared the Association’s report, claimed that last year there were at least 2,500,000 gonorrhea cases and 85,000 of infectious syphilis. Fleming declared: “Overall, gonorrhea continues to be uncontrolled in most areas.”
Smoking and Male Infertility
◆ According to Australian biochemist Dr. Michael Briggs, cigarette smoking might be a factor causing a man to become infertile. Writing about the findings of his study in the Medical Journal of Australia, Briggs said that heavy cigarette smoking decreases the male sex hormone, plasma testosterone, due to the carbon monoxide produced and absorbed into the bloodstream. One group of men studied smoked at least 30 cigarettes a day. After they stopped for seven days their testosterone concentration rose.
Burying Nuclear Wastes
◆ Near the Chalk River in Canada, three twelve-acre cemeteries are being used to bury lethal nuclear wastes. Trucks from different places in Canada bring dust, cobalt chips and radioactive-contaminated paper in one-gallon cans surrounded by four-ton lead containers. These are buried in huge underground vaults. But some scientists say that before certain nuclear wastes could decay to a safe level of radioactivity, the cement coffins might disintegrate and the leaking radioactivity would pollute underground water supplies. One scientist called the burial “criminally insane.”
◆ The United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that fur seals and other marine mammals are being harmed or drowned by thousands of plastic pieces washed up on the shores of Alaskan islands. Observers report that along the 60 miles of Amichitka Island beaches 24,000 plastic items have been washed up.
Space Objects in Orbit
◆ The Aerospace Defense Command in the United States reports that presently there are 2,897 man-made objects orbiting the earth. Of these, 1,978 were launched by the United States and 834 are of Russian origin.
Tax Evasion Increasing
◆ An increasing number of people in the United States are failing to file income-tax returns. J. M. Walters, outgoing Internal Revenue Service commissioner, says that “the trend is frightening.” Complex tax laws that people feel are unfair are said to account for the rise in number of tax dodgers. If not checked, Walters pointed out, the current $2.5 to $3 billion lost in unpaid taxes will shoot up to $6 billion in 1976.
◆ In the past twenty-five years, suicide has climbed to second place as a cause of death among young people in the U.S. During the next year it is estimated that 70,000 to 80,000 youths will attempt to do away with themselves. Between 3,500 and 4,000 may succeed. Dr. Michael L. Peck, director at the Suicide Prevention Center and Institute for Studies of Self-Destructive Behavior in Los Angeles, gave two possible reasons why young suicides are increasing. “Stresses today have increased dramatically. A second, . . . is the fact that people learn to enjoy life at a young age from their parents and they learn to distrust from the same people. Maybe the postwar generation had more general depression to communicate.” Dr. Peck pointed out that college suicides are now rarely caused by pressures of college alone. “They bring with them their home pressures,” he said.
Avoiding Heart Attacks
◆ A study of 16,882 British sedentary workers indicates that men who exercise vigorously, if only on weekends, are less open to heart attacks. “Vigorous exercise promotes cardiovascular health,” said the doctors conducting the study. “Lighter exercise . . . showed no such advantage.” Hard work such as that involved in walking briskly up hills, bicycling, digging a garden, shoveling snow, swimming, heavy calisthenics over a period of time can be good for one’s heart. But the doctors warned against starting any vigorous exercise program without consulting a physician first.
◆ Medical experts claim that tens of thousands of Americans receiving blood transfusions risk painful disease and even death. Reports show that blood transfusions kill more than 3,000 Americans every year and debilitate another 30,000 with disease. California representative Victor V. Veysey says: “Tragically, at least 90 percent of all serum hepatitis cases are inexcusable.” Serum hepatitis develops after blood transfusion or by contact with contaminated blood or medical equipment such as needles. The disease is common among drug addicts.