Watching the World
“Better” Without Blood
◆ Is blood necessary or therapeutically beneficial in open-heart surgery? Dr. Jerome Harold Kay writes to The Journal of the American Medical Association: “Because of the increasing demand for blood . . . and the possibility of hepatitis, with its morbidity and mortality, we have avoided blood transfusions as much as possible. . . . We have now done approximately 6,000 open-heart operations at the Saint Vincent’s Hospital in Los Angeles. Since we have not been using blood for the majority of patients, it is our impression that the patients do better.”—December 3, 1973, page 1231.
Juvenile Patient’s Rights
◆ The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that the wishes of a polio-crippled 17-year-old boy should be considered in support of his mother’s refusal to allow an operation using blood transfusions. American Medical News reports that “at the hearing, the boy answered all questions without hesitation and seemed to understand both the benefits that he might receive from the surgery and the possible consequences of not having it.” The court found that, under the law, he was not a neglected child and dismissed the petition to appoint a guardian who would allow transfusions.
◆ Half the lights in thirty hallways of Virginia’s Norfolk General Hospital were turned off to save power. Down went the noise too. “Suddenly, everyone is walking around very quietly,” says a hospital official. Lower speed limits probably accounted for most of the drop in U.S. Thanksgiving holiday deaths—from 679 in 1972 to 527 in 1973.
Pampered American Drivers
◆ The European business magazine, Vision, reports that 90 percent of American cars have automatic transmissions. Britain, in contrast, has 30 percent automatic; West Germany, 25 percent; France, 8 percent, and Italy, just 2 percent. Use of automatic transmissions generally requires more fuel.
Religion Loses at U.N.
◆ No document on religious freedom has issued from the U.N. after thirteen years of debate. A recent draft declaration was attacked primarily by the Soviet bloc. Bulgaria wanted the statement to make clear that “religion should not be used to incite hatred and hostility, or for political goals, or in ways harmful to peace.”
A ‘House Divided’
◆ “A fist-swinging brawl broke out in the newly established Northern Ireland Assembly today between rival Protestant factions,” says a New York Times report. The fight was over “sharing power with the minority Roman Catholics.” Some Protestants are “opposed to giving up political domination.”
Bishop’s Expensive Insult
◆ A High Court justice ordered the leader of the United Church of Cherubim and Seraphim in Nigeria to pay the equivalent of $4,500 in damages for spitting in a lawyer’s face and using violent language. The justice said: “The least that can be said of the conduct of the defendant, who holds the exalted position of a bishop, is that it is primitive and constitutes a stain on the progress of any civilised society.”
Church-Council Politics Scored
◆ “The true face of the NCC [National Council of Churches] is revealed in the support of radical and deviate causes and groups,” says an Indianapolis (Indiana) News article. “Its persistent political pronouncements have turned off the man in the pew.” The newspaper cites a number of political and radical causes that the Council supports financially and goes on: “Understandably many churchmen don’t want one cent of their contributions . . . in support of left-activist or decadent enterprises favored by the NCC.”
Church Meddling in Philippines
◆ “The gulf between church and state continues to widen in the Philippines,” observes a Washington Post writer. Resistance against the present government by activist priests is widening the rift. “Vatican 2 made it clear that we had to be more conscious of social and economic development,” explains a church source. So, the church became deeply involved in social action during the past decade. Some priests and nuns have joined Communist-oriented rebel groups antagonistic to the government.
Esteem for Religion Drops
◆ A recent Gallup survey shows that during the past decade employment as a clergyman has dropped 75 percent in the esteem of Americans under 30 years of age. In 1962 4 percent preferred a religious career over others. Now only 1 percent do. Another poll shows that less than one third of the Americans have confidence in organized religion as an institution. Other institutions, such as the medical profession and even garbage collection, have the confidence of over half the people. Government nears the bottom of the list.
Religion’s Worldwide Pains
◆ “The bottom has fallen out of the North American (Roman Catholic) Church,” says Panamanian priest T. Leo Mahon. Anglican Bishop R. W. Stopford, speaking in Johannesburg, South Africa, joins in: “If we are honest with ourselves we have to admit that, all too often, the church . . . is faltering and even incoherent in its message.” Dr. A. J. Van Der Bent, librarian of the World Council of Churches in Geneva, admits concerning hopes for denominational unity “that the battle has now become a sham fight.”
◆ The first U.S. vice-president to fill a midterm vacancy, Gerald Ford, was inaugurated in early December. He became the fortieth vice-president in the nation’s history. When taking the oath of office, Ford’s hand rested on The Jerusalem Bible opened to the 20th Psalm: “May Yahweh answer you in time of trouble; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you!” The office of vice-president was left unfilled during 16 previous vacancies.
U.S. Cancer Deaths Up
◆ “The cancer death rate accelerated in 1972 at the fastest pace in 22 years . . . a rate of increase triple the annual average since 1950. . . . the increase was blamed on greater exposure to cancer-causing chemicals in the environment,” reports the American Cancer Society. The male/female death ratio is predicted to be 54:46 in 1974. “The rise [since 1936] among men is due mainly to 1,400% increase from lung cancer.” Contributing to this rise, no doubt, is smoking, which King James I of England long ago said is “lothsome to the eye, hateful to the nose, harmefull to the braine, dangerous to the lungs.”
◆ The immunosuppressive drugs given to transplant patients to keep the body from rejecting a new organ also keep it from rejecting malignancies. Dr. Israel Penn of the University of Colorado Medical Center found from long-term studies of kidney-transplant patients that the incidence of cancer after transplantation “is about 100 times that observed in the general population in the same age range.”
Pestilence Among the Poor
◆ The World Health Organization (WHO) reports over 90,000 cases of smallpox through August 7 of 1973, almost twice as many as in the same period in 1972 and the highest total of cases since their “eradication programme began in 1967. Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India and Pakistan suffered most. Onchocerciasis or river blindness now affects an estimated 20,000,000 people throughout tropical Africa, Guatemala, Mexico, Venezuela and other countries. Thread-like worms living in the skin “cause itching so severe as to lead to suicide,” says World Health. These worms also penetrate the eye, eventually causing blindness. About 70,000 adults of the 10 million persons living in the West African Volta River basin, stricken with blindness, do not do productive work.
The Pain “Game”
◆ “Most hockey players have to play with pain of one kind or another nearly all of the time,” says a major team trainer. A doctor who specializes in sports medicine says of the aggressive player: “He’s looking to cause enough pain so that the opponent doesn’t challenge him later on in the game.” Physician’s World magazine observes that “hockey is a game of violence and probably always will be. The philosophy behind the game is perhaps best expressed by Ferguson, the ex-Montreal mauler. ‘In hockey you always hate the opposition—no matter who they are . . . There are no friends on the ice.’”
◆ “A number of American officials describe as astonishing and unpredicted the extent to which trade with China has swollen,” reports the New York Times. China’s leaders formerly seemed “determined to preserve their country’s self-contained economy.” Trade between the two nations grew tenfold over 1972 to $900 million in 1973; U.S. exports to China accounted for over 90 percent of this figure.
The Cycle Is Complete
◆ Theorists say that ‘primitive’ men bartered or traded goods until money, supposedly a better arrangement, was devised. But today virtually every monetary system rests on shaky foundations. In fact, J. T. Connor, chairman of Allied Chemical Corporation, says that U.S. firms wanting to buy foreign goods are beginning to find that huge amounts of currency are no longer wanted. So, how is some “modern” business carried on? By bartering! “I believe,” says Mr. Connor, that “we are going to see more and more of this . . . barter arrangement.”
◆ Japan’s worst department-store fire killed at least 101 persons in Kumamoto in late November. It was fueled in part by Christmas decorations. Many of the dead were Christmas shoppers. Though only about 1 percent of the Japanese profess Christianity, the country has celebrated the holiday with enthusiastic gift-giving since World War II.
Russia’s Morality Woes
◆ A Soviet sociologist bewails Russia’s growing moral problems. Writing in the youth newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets, he reveals results of a study of students from 14 to 17 years of age in the port city of Odessa. They display what he calls an “industrial psychology . . . which regards love exclusively as a physical necessity.” He notes that about a fourth of the youngsters “had already had premarital sex.” Venereal disease, thought to be under control in the 1950’s, has greatly increased since 1965.
Divorces Up Sharply
◆ Latest figures show that two marriages are now breaking up in the U.S. for every five new ones. The divorce rate has increased more than 25 percent since 1970.
Church Sex Therapy
◆ A Baptist minister in California’s First Baptist Church of San Carlos, and his wife, offer sex counseling as part of the church’s services. In addition to married persons, they have persons unmarried, those just living together and others, in their classes. Of this, they say: “Each person must struggle with his own morality and find his own righteousness.”
Britain’s Working Mothers
◆ One million more mothers in Britain are working to help support the family than did so a decade ago, reports the London Daily Mail. This represents more than a 50-percent increase. Forty percent of all British mothers now work.
Fighting Cock Kills Man
◆ A fighting cock turned its spurs on the leg of an elderly Singapore man in his own backyard. He went to the hospital two days later for treatment but died from the infection that had developed.