Watching the World
Famine Threat Lingers
◆ Threat of widespread famine lingers, according to The Wall Street Journal. In the coming year, it estimates, ten to thirty million famine-related deaths could occur. In 1973, figures now indicate, world grain production will be up twenty million tons over last year. But surplus grain stocks are the lowest in twenty years. Writer Roy L. Prosterman believes that the less developed nations will suffer. “It is hardly an exaggeration,” he notes, “to say that America’s garbage cans over the next year will contain a large enough amount of thrown-away food to prevent a significant proportion of the famine deaths that will otherwise occur in Asia and Africa.”
Economy’s Disastrous Drift
◆ World economists are currently trying to set up a better money system. Some believe it is already too late in appearing. Money & Credit (by New York’s Macro Publishing Corporation) says: “Even if all the nations could agree soon on a new trade and monetary system, it would probably take several years to implement it. And it’s becoming increasingly evident to us, at least, that the world doesn’t have that kind of time left. We may have already reached the point of no return. The drift toward disaster may have gone so far that it cannot be reversed.”
Why Church Membership Drops
◆ Why do church members quit? The Presbyterian Layman recently listed events affecting that church’s decline. They include: “(1) The National Council of Churches (largely supported by Presbyterian dollars) endorsed the concept of civil disobedience, as did some of the officials of our church; (2) . . . an acknowledged atheist . . . appeared before our 1969 General Assembly; (3) our church, in a rather devious way, gave $50,000 to [his] organization; (4) our church established an office in the nation’s capital ‘to take official stands on public issues and press politically to implement these stands’; (5) our Council on Church and Society published its ‘Sexuality and Human Community,’ wherein premarital virginity and marital fidelity were dismissed as being ‘the culture-bound conventions’ of the white, Protestant, middle-class part of our society.” Not surprisingly, the article says: “Our church is in serious trouble.”
Tax Evasion Grows
◆ Individual tax dodgers are costing the U.S. Federal government at least $6 billion a year. Authorities say the problem is growing. Errors are partly responsible; officials claim that the public is baffled by tax laws. But more people are now purposely cheating. Why? Chances of an audit are only one third as likely as ten years ago. Some refuse to pay for political reasons. Dishonesty by officials is spreading to others. Observes government audit expert S. Wolfe: “The moral fiber of the public can only be hurt by the things that are going on in government and industry.”
◆ Christendom’s ministers, contrary to the Bible, continue to endorse homosexuality. M. Schoenmaker, Dutch Congregationalist Church Minister in Victoria Park, Australia, in again trying to justify his homosexual ‘marriage ceremonies’ says: “If we forbid people to have sexual expression because they happen to be different from us, then we are forbidding them from showing God’s love.” A U.S. philosophical theology professor at St. Paul School of Theology Methodist makes a similar admission. The Kansas City Star notes: “Dr. [Paul] Jones said that St. Paul and other Christian writers had taken stands against homosexuality, but he said that in today’s world situation ethics have taken the place of biblical injunctions.”
A Male Becomes a Man
◆ It is sometimes argued that ‘homosexuals cannot change.’ The Bible says they can. (1 Cor. 6:9-11) A recent case at the University of Mississippi Medical Center emphasizes the Bible’s correctness. A seventeen-year-old boy displayed ‘transsexual’ traits—he walked, talked, stood, sat, and dressed like a girl. A sex change operation was considered. Doctors, however, taught the boy to alter these characteristics one at a time. A year later he is, doctors say, “in all respects functioning in his true physical role as a male.”
One Who ‘Saw the Truth’
◆ The Jesuit magazine America recently noted the thirtieth anniversary of the death of Austrian farmer Franz Jaegerstaetter. He was among the few Catholics who refused involvement in Nazism. But what about the rest of the Church? Writer Gordon Zahn says: “We are faced with the inescapable fact that it should not have fallen to this simple peasant in his remote village to ‘speak’ for the Church. If he was able to see the truth, one has to ask why the responsible leaders of the Catholic flock . . . could not. How could it be that the Catholic bishops of Germany (and his own native Austria) not only failed to condemn Hitler’s unjust wars, but openly encouraged and praised the Catholic faithful who fought in his armies under the misguided belief that it was their ‘Christian duty’?”
Churches and Crime
◆ Have the churches helped to reduce crime? Bill Nichols, a Dallas, Texas, Unitarian minister, says No. Responding to an item in the Dallas Times Herald, Nichols writes: “We need to face the fact that there is presently no statistical data to support the contention that churches make any difference whatsoever on the crime rate. The ratio of religious affiliation of criminals incarcerated in penitentiaries is the same as the ratio in the general society.”
◆ How close does the U.N. come to its goal of being a ‘universal’ organization? In late September there were 135 members. Who is not included? Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Nauru, San Marino, Taiwan, Tonga, Vatican City, Western Samoa, South and North Vietnam. Bangladesh hopes to join soon. Switzerland says its neutrality forbids membership. South and North Korea, while not members, are considered “observers.”
◆ Despite recent peace talk, the nations continue to manufacture huge amounts of war weapons. According to the independent Institute for Strategic Studies, the U.S. and U.S.S.R. seem intent on building their armories to the 1972 pact limits. Arabia and Iran were among the largest weapons buyers in the last year. Arabia now has 180 advanced fighter planes on order. Iran’s defense spending more than doubled, to $2 billion. Egypt spent $1.7 billion, and Israel $1.4 billion, in the same period. The report covers 119 nations.
◆ Disease epidemics persist in parts of Asia. Eighty percent of the smallpox cases in the world are reported from India. In one week 324 cases were reported in Calcutta. A World Health Organization official says: “As long as there is smallpox in this area, the whole world is threatened.” Malaria also thrives in India. In Sri Lanka malaria cases doubled, from 10,000 in October (1972) to 21,000 in January 1973. Annually there are over one and a half million cases in that entire region. Cholera and polio also increase.
◆ Chief of the U.S. Army’s Alcohol and Drug policy division told a Senate panel that 36 percent of the service’s officers and 70 percent of its enlisted men are either heavy or problem drinkers. He considers heavy drinkers men who have five drinks a night over a four-day period. Problem drinkers are those who have difficulties with other people because of drinking. The figures are based on a 1972 study of almost ten thousand Army personnel.
◆ It was originally thought that the U.S. might sell $400 million worth of goods to China this year. Industry Week, however, reports that the figure may be double that amount. Why? Mainly because of the huge Chinese agricultural purchases. The U.S. is buying only about $60 million worth of goods from China.
◆ Violent crime in the U.S. rose 4 percent in the first half of 1973 over the same period last year, according to the FBI. The four categories of ‘violent crime’ are murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault. Murder was up a full 17 percent in rural areas, 8 percent in suburbs. In cities of over one million population, murder rose 12 percent.
◆ In the first eight months of 1973 there were 200 bank robberies in New York city; that is about one for each banking day. A midtown bank was robbed twice in a single day. One police detective says: “They happened so fast that the bank was lucky to get its [videotape] cameras reloaded with film in time for the second robbery.” Thirty-two percent of those committing robberies in the city are arrested.
◆ Violence broke out during a recent downtown protest march in Dallas, Texas. An “alert,” mobilizing all policemen on twelve-hour watches, was called. Policemen put in over 30,000 hours of overtime. That, along with damaged police equipment, cost the department, and the taxpayers, over $233,000!
Need for “Familiar Sights”
◆ The crew of Skylab 2 spent over 59 days in space. But some experts question man’s ability to remain isolated from earth for much longer periods. Their view is based on what happens to submarine crews. Cut off from shore on long missions, crewmen struggle for positions near the sonar to hear noises made by sea animals. They suffer severe paranoia; many prowl around looking for leaks. There are intense worries about those onshore. To avoid boredom, more than 50 percent sleep from twelve to sixteen hours a day. Sexual frustrations heighten. Time says: “Consciously and unconsciously, they miss such familiar sights as trees, animals and sunrises.”
◆ Antismoking campaigns and warnings have increased in the last decade. But has tobacco production gone down? No! Rather, it has increased 12 percent, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. In the same period the world trade value of tobacco rose 50 percent, from $1 billion to $1.5 billion. Much of the trade increase is from “developing nations.”
◆ The U.S. government says that over 12,000 guns are lost or stolen from interstate shipments each year. Many reappear in the hands of criminals.
Paradox of Technology
◆ The world has never been more advanced technically. But is man better off? Consider the comments of U.S. syndicated writer Bruce Biossat: “Spreading and rising human aspiration for a good life are taxing world resources. . . . The great cities, which should be the crown of advanced living, are deteriorating into jungles which few animals would care to prowl. The wonderful computer is said to make all solutions possible, yet fewer and fewer things work well.” He notes, too, that distrust is widespread.
◆ There are about one million new stroke cases annually in Europe, according to the World Health Organization. Thirty percent of these prove fatal. One million persons are believed to be permanently disabled from strokes. The annual cost of hospital treatment for stroke patients in Europe is estimated to be over $7 billion.
Latest in Microsurgery
◆ Doctors at Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney, Australia, say they can replace fingers and hands up to twenty-four hours after an accident. Dr. Earl Owen and Dr. Paul Lendvay have successfully joined thirty-one severed fingers in sixty-seven attempts. Injured persons from as far as Southeast Asia, they say, are now within range of treatment.