Watching the World
Food for a Month
◆ At one point in 1973 combined world wheat reserves apparently fell to enough for only about a month’s consumption. Though in some areas bumper crops averted any immediate crisis, the long-term problem remains, now linked closely with the fuel crisis. Hardest hit will be the poorer “developing” countries, many experts believe. They lack financial reserves to cover increased costs, both of oil and oil-price-inflated products from industrial countries. One expert predicts that they will be “priced out of the market” for fertilizer, food and gasoline, bringing “desperate” conditions of famine, reports The Wall Street Journal.
“Obese” with Energy
◆ British fuel expert Harvey Morris claims that Americans have allowed themselves to become “obese” with energy demands as a result of past cheap abundance. He asserts: “You really don’t have an energy crisis. It’s merely a matter of waste efforts.” For example, he says that most industrial and home burner systems he checked were thirty years behind those in Europe, resulting in a 10- to 15-percent fuel loss. “Sophisticated equipment we use regularly in Europe is made in the U.S.,” but exported, he said, “because America didn’t need it in the past.” Recreation also cost Americans 8.1 billion gallons of fuel last year, most of which went for travel on vacations, and for various sports.
◆ The number of cars on U.S. highways passed the 100,000,000 mark last year, nearly one for every two persons in the country. Over 23,000,000 trucks and buses also vie with them for road space and fuel, especially in the ten states that have over half of the cars.
Decay from Within
◆ An Italian priest’s widely publicized letter charges Pope Paul with neglecting the poor of his own diocese. He says that the number of real believers is small and that Catholic Rome is becoming a “school of violence” where 2 percent of women are prostitutes, and drugs are “the refuge of the weak.” Much of Italy’s church news in recent weeks is critical. Corriere della Sera headlines: “How the Phenomenon of Dissension Amongst the Milan Clergy Is Being Manifested. There Are a Hundred Priests Who Protest.” L’Europeo reports the outspoken defection of well-known seminary theologian Ambrogio Valsecchi. Il Mezzogiorno published an Avezzano priest’s protest against his new bishop’s lavish seating ceremony with honor guard. He calls such display “the sin of a Church whose sole concern remains its own survival and its own prestige in the eyes of the ‘great.’” He assailed the “prostituting of the evangelical message,” and said: “We have ceased being Christian, perhaps we have never been!”
Quandary for Asia’s Catholics
◆ A Jesuit group in the Philippines accepted an $82,000 grant from a division of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The terms of the grant require promotion of birth control in the Asian area, with a yearly report on “the amounts of contraceptives by type and quantity used.” At the same time, the local 80-percent Catholic population is faced with a campaign by Philippine bishops assailing the extensive family-planning programs now in the area. The question is: To whom should sincere Catholics listen?
◆ Jesuit priest John McLaughlin, deputy special assistant to President Nixon, says that clergymen should not be pointing accusing fingers at corruption. “Indeed, the churches have their own skeletons in the closet that make the Watergate events seem, in comparison, like the [slight offenses] of novice nuns.” He said that he believed that those leading the country “are no better and no worse, and no more sinful or less sinful, no more sullied or unsullied morally, ethically or spiritually than the people in all those other occupations—including the clergy.”
Crime in the East
◆ Recent reports from China and Russia show that the West is not alone in its crime problem. The newspaper Zarya Vostoka of Russian Georgia reports official corruption, theft, bribery and drunkenness. Black marketing even made one man a ruble millionaire. Communist party newspaper Jenmin Jih Pao of Peking commended street patrols for “taking the initiative against class enemies” throughout the city, day and night. A poster campaign backs up this fight against “hooliganism” among the young that is causing some to hesitate walking the streets at night alone. All kinds of crime, from petty theft to murder, are said to be involved.
168 Years Old!
◆ Soviet citizen Shiraly Mislimov reportedly reached that age before he died last year. He resided high up in a small mountain village with his 107-year-old third wife, Khatun, after outliving the first two. He attributed longevity primarily to hard work in the mountain air, says the Soviet digest Sputnik.
◆ Last year the number of Japanese over a hundred years old was reported as 532, with 519 of them in Japan and 13 in the United States. Japan’s female centenarians are four times as numerous as the men, 429 compared to 103.
Trend in Smoking
◆ The American Cancer Society says that 10 million Americans stopped smoking during the past ten years. However, the total number of smokers increased from 50 to 52 million, with the percentage of children smokers (12 to 17), especially girls, on the increase. Ironically, since the banning of cigarette advertising on radio and television, there has been about a 3-percent increase in smoking.
◆ A team of Wisconsin researchers raised questions about transfusing blood from donors who smoke tobacco. After a nationwide study of 29,000 blood donors it was found that “tobacco smoking was the single most important factor” in high carbon monoxide levels in the blood, though environmental factors have some effect. Monoxide is “one of the most lethal poisons known,” says the New York Times report. “The heart and the brain are the two organs most vulnerable.”
◆ India’s health minister says that a report from the World Health Organization shows that ten U.S. companies make $150 million profit a year by illegally importing human blood from India. He called for official investigation of “the extremely serious matter so that any such racket is nipped in the bud.”
Hong Kong “Dragon”
◆ Superstition still plagues Hong Kong construction efforts. Recently its Lok Ma Chau village patriarch learned that a mysterious fever had stricken his grandson. The local diviner claimed that bulldozing a tourist parking site atop the village hill had cut off the nose of an invisible dragon who lived there. The mysterious fever spread to seven more grandchildren before villagers convinced construction workers to stop. Demands for appeasing the dragon and the villagers included thousands of dollars for Taoist priests to exorcise the demon and hospitalization for the stricken children.
Church School “Malaise”
◆ The New York Times recently advertised: “How you can help Cardinal Cooke continue Catholic education in New York—and help yourself, too.” The ad explains: “Make a gift of $25,000, and we will guarantee you a substantial lifetime income (part of it tax-free).” Graphically describing conditions that force the church to resort to this mercenary appeal, sociologist priest Andrew Greeley says: “The conviction that parochial schooling has failed is so pervasive among the elites of American society . . . that nothing can be done to shake it. . . . [It] is part of the clammy, creepy malaise that is clutching at the life force of the American Church.”
◆ “Bewildered students fled their classrooms” at a women’s teacher training college in Ogbunike, says Nigeria’s Evening Times. A priest protesting alleged mistreatment of Catholic students injured the woman principal after exchanging “hot words . . . and then a fight during which files, books, rulers, bottles of ink and penholders were freely used.” The governor of Lagos State, Brigadier Mobolaji Johnson, criticized Nigeria’s Methodist leaders for ‘recent happenings in the church,’ as he addressed their twelfth annual conference.
◆ Two babies were infected with syphilis by blood transfusions at Germany’s Kiel University Clinic last year, reports Wiesbadener Kurier. Infection spread to the parents. Not knowing the source, at least one of the families involved threatened to break up, each partner accusing the other of being unfaithful. Even though the truth came out in court, the damage was done. “Two people will have told one another things of which they would be ashamed when they learned the truth,” notes the article.
More Transplant Complications
◆ Recently it was reported that the incidence of cancer is 100 times greater among organ-transplant recipients than among the general population. However, the frequency of brain tumors is “about 1,000 times greater,” according to Dr. Wolff M. Kirsch, of the University of Colorado Medical Center. The prolonged immunosuppressive therapy to prevent rejection of the new organ frequently entangles the patient “in a snare of pathological processes,” he says. Prospects for helping such patients are considered “bleak.”
◆ After centuries of untouched splendor, modern methods have taken much of the challenge out of the Himalayas. Modern tourist hiking groups pay well for less dangerous low-altitude work. So Nepal’s Sherpa mountain men are now in short supply for expeditions to the highest peaks. Modern pollution has moved in too. A “thick and dark” layer of it is clearly visible on Himalayan glacial ice, reports Zbigniew Jaworowski, leader of a Polish-American scientific expedition.
Gasoline Price Doubles
◆ Mexico’s first price increase in 15 years on gasoline was a big one, 100 percent! The state monopoly that supplies 93 percent of Mexico’s petroleum says: “Our gasoline prices are still among the lowest in the world, even after the raise.”
◆ Neckties with a “V” on them are in increasing demand in England. First used to promote vasectomies, unscrupulous men now use them to let women know they have been sterilized; hence, no pregnancy from immoral relations. However, many unsterilized men are now ordering the ties.
◆ Prison authorities report that about half of Ireland’s prison inmates attend Sunday church services. That is a far better attendance record than most church members throughout the world can claim. The question arises: Why did their religion not keep them out of the prisons?
Sports and Health
◆ A strenuous athletic life is often said to make a person healthier. Does it? One National Athletic Health Institute brochure is partially quoted in The Sporting News: “In Little League baseball, it is estimated that up to 100,000 boys develop chronic elbow strain in a single year. High school football can be a premature imitation of games played by the pros. But the player is not yet as skilled. His immature bones and muscles are more vulnerable. He is more prone to injury. . . . [As for adults,] across America, physicians report increased case loads resulting from recreation exercise. . . . chronic tennis elbows, lower back pains, knee and ankle strains.”