Watching the World
◆ U.N. Secretary-General Waldheim opened the recent special session of the General Assembly by saying that, though world forces leading up to it have been building up for a long time, “what is new is the sudden and dramatic urgency of the present situation and the acute acceleration of the historical process which has brought us face to face with a global emergency.” Enumerating the problems of poverty, population, food, energy, militarism and economics, he said that most had been discussed internationally for many years. “But the sense of urgency—even of emergency—is relatively new, for the events of recent months have dramatized the dangers of drift and inaction in such a way as to alarm all governments.”
◆ Will the United States be able to make a comeback this year as the world’s granary with huge surpluses of wheat? A broker at the Chicago Board of Trade wheat pit says of the export buyers: “Not only were they there, but they began buying like crazy—and never backed off.” A grain expert noted one order for two million tons. “That’s just one order,” he said, “but it is about a fifth of the additional wheat the nation hopes to harvest in 1974. It tells us that no matter how much we produce, the world demand keeps catching up.”
◆ Serious crime took a 5-percent leap in the U.S. in 1973. The last three months were particularly alarming, as it rose 16 percent over the same period in 1972. Attorney General William Saxbe comments: “I personally feel serious crime is up, . . . and I’m not going to try to whoosh it away by saying we’re getting better reporting.” (Recent government studies indicate that about half of all crimes are reported.) “The renewed upsurge . . . is very disturbing to me because the statistics give no clue as to what is causing it.” London also reports a 13-percent increase in violent crime for last year.
◆ Canadian Anglican priest W. Maultsaid was sent to British Honduras to help organize economic development projects. He reported to church members that some church funds were put to use in “support of an underground opposition to the party dominating local politics,” says the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix. A group of Canadian laymen have organized a protest against Catholic and Protestant “charity” drives that use donated money to support worldwide terrorist movements. A spokesman for the group says: “This horrifies me—because the churches’ work is the saving of individual souls. I don’t think they should be involved in political activity, including the killing of blacks or whites.”
Religion’s “Gay Crusade”
◆ The National Federation of (Catholic) Priests’ Councils recently urged the repeal of civil laws that make “homosexual acts between [consenting] adults” a crime. Their resolution on this also asks that special effort be made in assisting homosexuals “to find employment in the church consistent with their abilities and desires.” Meanwhile, the United Methodist Council on Youth Ministry declares that homosexuality should “not be a bar to the ministry.” The Bible disagrees.—1 Cor. 6:9, 10.
◆ “This used to be a paradise with all the possibilities of becoming a dynamic center for the entire region,” said the president of the Education Foundation of Tubarão, Brazil. About 90 percent of the city of 70,000 was destroyed or badly damaged by the flood that recently ravaged the area. In the region, 500 to 1,000 persons are believed to be dead or missing, as well as about 50,000 cattle. The rains, following months of drought, also heavily damaged crops in this southern farming area.
Jewish Family Problem
◆ From 1900 to 1965 the number of U.S. Jews marrying non-Jews rose from about one in 100 to one in 10. Now about one in 3 do so. The British chief rabbi, fearing Jewish extinction, says: “The worst cancer is the painless type . . . Intermarriage is such a scourge.” The New York Board of Rabbis voted to oust colleagues who perform mixed marriages, and its president says that to keep the Jewish community growing “three children should be the minimum number for Jewish families . . . but the larger the better.” Is this concern for survival religious? Typically, an Australian Jewess says her atheist husband would “feel very upset if his children didn’t marry Jews. But not because of any religious feeling at all.”
◆ Four of the eight planets other than earth in our solar system have been visited recently at close range by picture-taking spacecraft. Now scientists are busy reexamining old theories. Mercury, closest to the sun, surprises them; it seems to have a weak magnetic field and a thin atmosphere. Venus apparently has almost no magnetic field, but is covered with hot clouds swirling continuously at hundreds of miles per hour. Mars’ 200-mile-per-hour dust storms come seasonally, as do immense polar ice caps; but its lack of liquid water challenges theories about life there. A 15-mile-high volcano dwarfs Mount Everest. Giant Jupiter seems to have two magnetic fields, the outer one buffeted back as much as a million miles or more when the sun sends out strong bursts of “solar wind.”
◆ Soviet cancer deaths reported by Vestnik Statistiki are said to be the lowest among industrial nations. Though there has been a steady increase in the death rate, by 1972 it was 129.6 per 100,000 population, about 22 percent less than the U.S. figure. A sharp increase in the Russian male death rate was attributed to lung cancer from smoking. Similar to the U.S., male deaths from lung cancer were said to be five times those of women. The subduing of most childhood diseases has now made cancer the number one killer of children ages one to 14 in the United States.
◆ U.S. government efforts to discourage smoking by banning radio and television advertising of cigarettes are losing ground while their efforts to help tobacco farming are gaining. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that 1973 marks the third year in a row of rising cigarette consumption. The 4.6-percent rise to a record 591 billion far outstrips population growth and represents an average of more than 2,800 cigarettes for each person in the country! Meanwhile, “agriculture officials said government price supports for 1974 tobacco will be 8.7 percent above last year’s rates,” reports the Detroit News.
◆ How safe are blood products? Of 52 patients at an Indiana hospital recently, 19 developed viral hepatitis after being given a plasma protein product. The manufacturer has recalled the product.
“A Job for the Creator”
◆ Two of the world’s most famous heart surgeons recently commented on the future of transplants. Dr. Michael E. DeBakey says: “I think the general interest as far as heart transplants is concerned has diminished greatly because of the experience that we had . . . The results were not sufficiently good to justify the effort.” Dr. Denton A. Cooley observes: “Although we have been able to replace all the components of the heart, the only part we cannot replace is the heart muscle . . . It seems that is a job for the creator . . . That seems to be the frontier beyond which we have not been able to advance.”
China’s “Barefoot Doctors”
◆ Shanghai’s Bureau of Public Health figures indicated a life expectancy of about 70 years there, up from about 40 years in the 1930’s. Some of the improvement in health care, especially in rural areas, is said to be from the efforts of more than a million chijiao yisheng, “barefoot doctors.” These workers are given several months’ initial training followed by continued on-the-job education in the treatment of “light diseases” and minor injuries. China Reconstructs magazine reports that in 1973 these health workers handled 65 percent of all the out-patient visits in one typical county. More serious ailments are referred to professional physicians.
Value of IQ Scores
◆ Do the average lower IQ scores of blacks compared with whites indicate inherited lower intelligence? A recent article in Science magazine indicates No. It presents much evidence showing that no reliable way has been found to test intelligence that is unaffected by “cultural differences and differences in psychological environment. . . . The IQ scores themselves contain uncontrollable, systematic errors of unknown magnitude. . . . these errors are apparent in the very large discrepancies” among measurements by different investigators. It notes in conclusion that “no valid inferences can be drawn” to prove genetic inferiority, and that research to this end “is scientifically worthless.”
Evangelism and Belief
◆ Christendom’s churches often talk about the need for ‘spreading the Gospel.’ But why are their actual efforts at evangelism so weak? Presbyterian George Sweazey, professor of evangelism at Princeton Seminary, notes: “People are saying that if the theologians aren’t sure about what they believe anymore, how can [the people] be. . . . You have to offer them something clear, definite and real to believe in.”
◆ Four days of frantic celebrating in the name of religion recently produced a violent death toll of 170 in Rio de Janeiro. The sharply higher than usual toll resulted from assaults and accidents. Until carnival revelry officially ended at noon on Roman Catholic Ash Wednesday, millions “went on a final, all-night binge of wild samba dancing,” reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “the women in bikinis and flimsy, transparent dresses, many of the men bare-chested.”
◆ Pregnant mothers who smoke can undermine their children’s futures, according to the British Medical Journal. Children whose mothers smoke ten or more cigarettes each day are, on the average, as much as one half inch shorter and five months slower in mental abilities than their “unsmoked” peers at ages seven and eleven. The Canadian Medical Association Journal notes a study revealing a reduced average birth weight among babies born to smoking mothers, and a 24-percent higher risk of death near the time of the baby’s birth. Another study of 17,000 Canadian births notes a 50-percent greater risk of congenital heart defects among the “smoked” babies.
◆ British workmen have begun operations at Dover to dig the access route for the proposed 20-mile underwater tunnel between Britain and France. The work, already begun in Sangatte, France, last November 15, is projected for completion some time in 1980. Optimistically, British Railways has already sold tickets on the train scheduled to take passengers under the Straits of Dover.
◆ A 1,000-ton meteor passed across U.S. and Canadian sides on August 10, 1972. A recent report reveals that a U.S. Air Force satellite also saw it from above. The 13-foot meteor had come within 36 miles of the earth’s surface at a speed of 33,000 miles per hour! One expert says that a hit on earth would have rivaled the atomic bomb blasts of World War II.