Watching the World
Turkish Witnesses Sentenced
◆ On October 17, 1973, the Third Criminal Court of Ankara, Turkey, sentenced thirteen of Jehovah’s witnesses to one year of heavy prison, to be followed by a four-month surveillance period. This case has continued since October 1968, when police raided a private home where the Witnesses were in Bible discussion. In 1970, after several hearings and investigations, all thirteen were acquitted; the court ruled there was “no evidence” of a law violation. That decision had considered an opinion submitted by three professors from the Law Faculty of Istanbul University. However, the prosecution’s appeal was accepted in 1971, and a new court requested the opinion of two religious lecturers at the Faculty of Islam at Ankara University and a legal adviser. One of this group had already been disqualified as an expert by the Martial Law Court in Ankara because of a previous biased and wrong opinion about the Witnesses. It is not surprising, therefore, that the latest decision finds Jehovah’s witnesses “guilty.” The case has been appealed to the Supreme Court.
◆ Warnings regarding coming food shortage have gone largely unheeded. An article in Smithsonian recalls: “About ten years ago a number of scholars predicted darkly that given the size and present rate of growth of the population, the human race would inevitably experience a series of severe famines and social and political disruptions. Some ventured to say that the troubles would begin in earnest as early as 1975.” After considering the West African famine, the magazine continues: ‘One wonders if the prophecies of those quickly dismissed as alarmists should not now be reconsidered.’
◆ Even if the Arab nations had not recently cut off oil, it is possible that the U.S. would still have had energy shortages. Why? Because of insufficient refinery capacity. No new U.S. refineries are currently being built. The reasons for this before the embargo, according to the oil companies, were crude oil import restrictions, low retail prices for petroleum products and environmental restrictions. A refinery costs about $200 million and takes three years to build. Currently the U.S. has a refinery capacity of 13.6 million barrels of oil daily, but the country consumes 17 million barrels. Imports make up the difference.
◆ Of all the people killed because of winter storms in the last 30 years, about one third died, not in the storm itself, but from heart attacks brought on by overwork in heavy snow. Heart Association experts have some advice for those who shovel snow: Use your whole body, including leg and back muscles, not just arms, when shoveling. Avoid shoveling right after a meal. Do not smoke or drink while working outdoors. Tobacco can dangerously constrict blood vessels, while alcohol dulls feelings of fatigue.
◆ Canada’s Quebec Province was once a bastion of Catholic power. But since 1960 church authority there has been in rapid decline. The number of practicing Catholics in French-speaking Montreal dropped from 60 percent to 30 percent in the last ten years. Only 12 percent of those in the 15- to 35-year-old group take part in any church activity. There are fewer priests in Quebec. The changes have occurred quietly. A recent study by a group of noted Catholic laymen says: “Very often, the practice of religion is abandoned without drama, the way one puts aside an old garment that never really fit.”
Children, Church and Crime
◆ Often it is said that youngsters from “religious homes” commit fewer crimes. Is this true? Not according to James Milord in a recent issue of British Columbia’s The Victorian. His evidence shows that there is no real difference between crime rates of “church kids and non-church kids.” Why not? Churches have not stopped older members’ ‘white collar’ crimes, and rich people’s crimes are hardly mentioned in pulpits. The church’s “own dishonesties,” Milord argues, “have finally caught up with it.”
Christian or Catholic?
◆ True Christianity should change people. Has Catholicism, after sixteen centuries, really improved individuals? Says National Catholic Reporter: “The number of Catholic drug addicts and alcoholics in the Greater London area is proportionately well above that for any other denomination or for agnostics, according to a report by Father Terence E. Tanner, a social worker in the region. He said he had also found a high proportion of Catholics among the compulsive gamblers in the area.”
More “Gay Churches”
◆ The homosexual church movement claims to be growing. U.S. “gay minister” Troy Perry is reported in Yale University’s Alumni Magazine to have said: “We now have 55 gay churches and missions in 26 states, as well as in Canada, Great Britain and France.” But the Bible, at 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10, condemns “homosexual perversion.”—New English Bible.
◆ Europeans, for the most part, have a heavier tax burden than Americans. The total tax load levied against the equivalent of one dollar (on a national level) in Denmark is 44 cents, while in the U.S. the figure is only 27.8 cents. The Dutch, Swedes and Norwegians all pay out over 40 cents on each dollar for taxes. Those rendering between 30.9 cents and 36.8 cents are the Austrians, Britons, French, Belgians, West Germans and Italians. The Swiss pay only 24 cents.
◆ It is claimed that no U.S. military man is currently fighting in a shooting war. Nevertheless, that nation’s defense budget remains high. Why? Weapons continue to be built. And, due to inflation, they are costing more. In 1964 a recruit was paid $78 monthly; today he gets $326. A World War II B-29 bomber sold for $680,000, but today’s FB-111 is $10 million. Ten years ago nuclear submarines cost $81 million; now they are $181 million. As U.S. News & World Report sees it, “In today’s tense world” the “U.S. has no choice but to pay the bill.”
◆ Leaders of the Women’s Liberation movement claim they want equal rights for everyone. Interestingly, at the same time many of them also favor abortion. Are the two views really compatible? Not according to retired Canadian Lawyer Gwendolyn Landolt, who is quoted in the Toronto Star as saying: “Women’s libbers say they’re all for equality, yet they discriminate against the unborn.”
◆ Predictions are probably never more unsure than when the stock market is involved. Prophecies early in 1973 for that year’s U.S. market did not come true but went wildly astray. Why? Experts say that it was because of the sudden change in economic policies—from Phase II to Phase III to Phase IV, with a so-called Freeze II sandwiched in between. Then there was news of economic and political scandals, the Mideast war and a subsequent energy crisis. And, added to these conditions, a greatly devalued dollar. The 1973 market predictions were thus mostly wrong because of what Business Week calls a “truly unprecedented series of events, none of them foreseen one year ago.”
◆ A detailed study by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says that at least one out of every five American families lives in substandard or overcrowded conditions or is forced to spend an excessive part of its income for rent. Their total of 13.1 million “housing-deprived” families is about twice the estimate made during the 1960’s. Of this figure, 6.9 million, the report says, live in “physically inadequate” units. That means the housing lacks complete indoor plumbing or is inadequately heated or it is “dilapidated.”
Britain and America
◆ Ties between the U.S. and Britain are still strong. William Davis, editor of the British humor magazine Punch, verified this in a serious article recently: “On a personal level very few [British] people actually feel European. We know appallingly little about continental television, literature or even pop music . . . British newspapers and TV still take far more interest in America than in continental Europe. And of course we see more of life in America as portrayed on television than we do of life in France or Italy.” Students of Bible prophecy correctly refer to an “Anglo-American world power.”
◆ Every year 12,000 Americans die from fire and about 300,000 are injured or tragically disfigured. Economic losses tally over $11 billion. “America,” says Science News, “suffers more deaths, injuries. and monetary waste from fire than does any other nation.”
◆ Many college graduates in the U.S. are looking for work. On the other hand, the shortage of genuinely skilled craftsmen, Industry Week says, “probably is one of the most severe problems that industry, government and labor must face.” Now, increasing numbers of young people, seeing employment trends, are turning away from college educations. More are considering the trades as a profession. Says one Tool and Die Institute official: “From a sheer standpoint of economics, people are starting to take a look at the vocational trades, and we’re starting to see many more people interested in them.”
◆ Industrialized countries have no shortage of solid wastes. Who mainly contributes to the problem of solid waste? Most persons are surprised to learn that, in the U.S., agriculture accounts for almost 60 percent of that nation’s solid waste. Mineral wastes take up another 31 percent of the total, that from households another 7 percent, and industry, 3 percent. The problem of solid wastes, according to some, has reached “the crisis stage.”
Doctors Can Be Wrong
◆ Some people are hesitant to question a doctor’s opinion regarding surgery. However, they need not be. Business Week quotes Dr. William R. Barclay, assistant executive vice-president of the American Medical Association, as saying: “Patients should realize that they’re the boss, since they are purchasing a service. If the patient wants to get another doctor’s opinion, he should feel no embarrassment about it.”
Doctors’ High Suicide Rate
◆ The Medical Tribune says that suicide causes more deaths among doctors in the United States than automobile accidents, plane crashes, drownings and homicides combined. The rate is double that for all white Americans. Women doctors have the highest suicide rate for any group of females in the country.
Effect of Religious Hypocrisy
◆ It is a fact of history that religious hypocrisy has contributed to the rise of Communism. In regard to this a recent United Press International dispatch comments about exhibits in Leningrad’s Museum of the History of Religion and Atheism: “The support of some German churchmen for Hitler and the reactionary role of the Russian Orthodox Church in the pre-revolutionary days of tsarist Russia [are chronicled]. Even unbiased historians had little good to say about the Russian church in those days, and it has provided rich grist for the museum . . . Exhibits laugh at poor church attendance by Western youth, and lampoon the use of jazz in Western churches to recover these youth . . . Cardinal Spellman is condemned for his blessing of U.S. troops in Vietnam.”