Watching the World
◆ The average buyer everywhere knows that inflation is galloping ahead. But few persons realize how serious inflation is internationally. Consider these reports: “Inflation must be brought under control fairly quickly or the very fabric of European society will begin to unravel.” (Business Week) “Britain could be slipping into its biggest economic crisis.” (The Economist) “From Iceland to Australia, from Belgium to Japan, the steady rise of prices has either toppled governments or threatens to force changes at the top.” (Associated Press) The New York Times calls it: “The worst worldwide inflation in history.”
◆ In the last year the price of dried beans rose 204.5 percent in the U.S. Few American buyers will disagree with financial writer Sylvia Porter: “A pound of dried beans is becoming almost as expensive as a pound of hamburger.”
◆ The Rocky Mountain News of Denver, Colorado, refers to that city as “one of the rape centers in the nation.” There were 461 reported cases in 1973, and those reported are usually a small fraction of the actual number. The local district attorney has pushed mass distribution of a booklet titled “Rape” to aid women. It advises: “Remember—the best way to protect your body is by using your head.” Records from nearby Boulder indicate one thing that “using your head” includes. Boulder police say that there were 31 rapes in that city’s jurisdiction in 1972. Twenty-one—two thirds—of the victims were hitchhikers!
◆ The New York Department of Consumer Affairs has been investigating disreputable abortion clinics. One woman investigator, pretending to be pregnant, carried a male urine sample to one of the clinics. She was informed that “her” urine test was positive and that she was definitely pregnant. An abortion-referral service told a woman who claimed that her period was one month late that no pregnancy test was even necessary. “Stop hoping it’s something else,” she was advised. “Of course you’re pregnant. Just come down here with $150 and a sanitary napkin.”
Earth from Space
◆ U.S. astronaut Paul J. Weitz recently commented on how the earth appears from space. He describes the damage done by man as “appalling.” He claims that from 270 miles up he could see pollution flowing into the Great Lakes. Smog blocked Washington, D.C., from view. On the other hand, this astronaut reinforces the fact that the earth is man’s home: “In space your ideas about home change. When I looked down at the blue earth—and it is as blue as the sky—I wouldn’t think of my home as being in Houston or the United States. I would think of the whole earth as my home, the place I wanted to return to.”
◆ Do people in the advanced twentieth century still believe that the “other world” can assist them in some way? Yes, as the book Alive by Piers Paul Read, the story of those who survived an airplane crash in the Andes mountains in the fall of 1972, clearly shows. Roderick Craib, English literature teacher at Rutgers University, in a recent review of the book reminds us of one part of the search for the survivors that is sometimes forgotten: “A pathetic aspect of this part of the story is the reliance of a group of the parents on clairvoyants for information.” With what results? Craib says: It “led them to concentrate their search and rescue efforts in the wrong location.”
◆ “Does your favorite drink actually quench your thirst?” asks Today’s Health. The article shows that high water content is even more important than temperature in slaking thirst. The English and Jamaicans prefer warm drinks; Americans like them cold. The sweeter the drink, usually the less thirst quenching. Similarly, the more alcohol it has, the greater its dehydrating effects.
The Angry Clergy
◆ What is it that makes the clergy angry? Well, the Alliance of Angry Clergymen is a trade union and it is demanding that the Church of England double clergy salaries. And if the demands are not met? The Alliance members say they will work fewer hours, avoid some meetings and do outside work.
No Spiritual Leadership
◆ Bishop W. McFerrin Stowe recently addressed the Central Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church. He condemned the “false gods” that Americans have turned to, such as science, education, success, wealth, violence, and so forth. But what have his church and the others of Christendom done to tear down these idols? Stowe’s answer: “The Christian church has failed time and again to stand up and speak for that which is just and righteous. The church has failed to provide the spiritual leadership.”
The Cardinal and the Stripper
◆ At first the press reports said that 69-year-old Cardinal Daniélou was stricken by a heart attack on a Paris street and died in the home of friends. However, Le Canard Enchaîné later reported that the cardinal died in the apartment of a nightclub stripper; police confirmed this latter story. What was a cardinal doing in a bar girl’s apartment? The Church refuses to answer. But says Le Canard: “Alas, we have never preached the doctrine of priestly celibacy.” The Jesuit cardinal, however, was known as one who did. “Whatever the truth,” notes the Catholic newspaper La Croix, “we Christians know that each of us is a sinner.”
Cost of Driving
◆ What does it cost to drive your car? The U.S. Department of Transportation has made some estimates that include the varied annual expenses related to operating a car. They say: A 1974 standard-sized automobile costs you $8.74 per hour to operate at 55 miles per hour; a compact is $7.08 and a subcompact $6.13 per hour.
Inflation and Wages
◆ Most of the blame for inflation has been attached to the rising cost of commodities like food and fuel. But now, says The Wall Street Journal, “there’s this nagging little noise in the background: the sound of a fuse sizzling. Economists fear it’s attached to a package of inflationary dynamite known as labor costs.” To keep up with rising costs, workers are demanding more money. In the last year, workers’ “real” earnings in the U.S. dropped 5.6 percent, from $124.35 to $117.29 weekly. In early June there were 523 strike cases being handled by federal mediators, involving 308,600 workers. This compares with 267 strikes being mediated with 80,430 workers a year ago.
◆ Stock markets all over the world fell drastically during the first half of 1974. Values were down 27.6 percent in Britain; 19.4 percent in France; 14.2 percent in Canada, and in the United States 12.9 percent. Conversely, in Japan prices rose 7.2 percent. But this was after their sharp dip at the height of the oil crisis, which created, some say, an overreaction of selling. What is keeping most of the world markets from plunging even farther? The Economist of London ventures one opinion: “The suspicion must remain that prices on the market are being kept up on faith, hope and a policy of deliberately not selling to provoke falls.”
◆ Numerous Western writers have commented on the current human dilemma. But recently an Easterner, Dr. Fatah Singh, director of the Rajasthan Oriental Research Institute at Jodhpur, India, added his views to these. He writes in The Oregonian: “It is apparent that the so-called civilization has taken a turn on a wrong track, leading to a dead-end alley with no light, no life, and no love. Our science and technology has given us a huge potential and power, but we have hardly acquired a moral stature worthy of that proud possession. Intellectually a giant, today’s humanity is spiritually a pigmy. It values money more than goods, and goods more than man.”
Behind Ireland’s Problem
◆ Ireland’s civil war is now several years old. Why has it not stopped? Comments The Record Reporter of Phoenix, Arizona: “It is a tragedy of our times that two great elements of the Christian faith, the Catholics and Protestants, are not willing to exist as brothers in Ireland . . . but revert to the law of the jungle, even making war on women and children. It is a compounded tragedy when clergymen of both faiths are not able to persuade their parishioners to abide by the basic precepts of the Christian faith. . . . We can hope that those engaged in the bloody feuding will pause long enough to read their Bible again.”
◆ In 1973, Americans contributed a record $24.5 billion to charity. That was an 8.9-percent increase over the year before. Of that total, about ten billion dollars, or over 41 percent, went to religion. This represents a sizable drop for religion; in 1964 its cut of the total was almost 50 percent.
◆ Two New York scientists claim that air pollution killed 108,000 persons in New York city between 1963 and 1972; in other words, at least 28 persons each day. The pair, H. Schimmel and T. Murawski, also conclude that despite a 60-percent drop in the level of one major pollutant, sulfur dioxide, the death rate remained constant. Thus, says the New York Post, “the study has touched off a behind-the-scenes furor among city, state and federal environment officials.” Why? “Because some believe it also shows that one of the nation’s toughest pollution control laws has been worthless.”
◆ A study by two Johns Hopkins University sociologists reveals that 30 percent of American women between the ages of 15 and 19 have had premarital intercourse. About a third of this number become pregnant. “To marry and then conceive is the exception among teenagers,” claim the pair, Melvin Zelnik and John F. Kantner in Family Planning Perspectives. Three fourths of all first pregnancies among American teen-agers, they say, occur before marriage.
◆ According to Arthur Sandles in The Financial Times, about 220,000 puppies are born every month in Britain; there are 4.5 million cats and about 6 million dogs in the nation. Interestingly, however, the British, with one dog for every 9.5 humans, do not have the largest percentage; the French have one dog for every 7 humans. Meanwhile, the Americans possess one dog for every 6 humans. And the Germans, one for every 25.
◆ Between March and May of this year the average price of a pound of boneless sirloin steak rose from $2.41 to $2.70 in the United States. But in Tokyo the cost per pound skyrocketed from $10.31 to $14.70!
Packed Medical Schools
◆ In the last five years there has been a 72-percent increase in the number of students desiring entry into U.S. medical schools. As a result, there are currently only 12,500 medical school openings there for over 40,000 qualified applicants. All have already studied at least four years and spent several thousand dollars in premedical schools. Traditional alternatives to medical school, dentistry and veterinary training, are also filled. A sizable number of U.S. students are now traveling to Mexico to complete their medical education.