Watching the World
Confirmation of Atrocities
◆ More confirmation of the brutal persecution of Jehovah’s witnesses in Malawi has been published in the London Observer. A letter from R. E. S. Cook of Manchester, England, who had worked in Malawi, stated: “My experiences then leave me in no doubt, first, that the present reports are substantially accurate, and secondly that now—as before—nothing officially will be done to assist these harmless and defenceless people. That persecution was taking place I was able to verify from Malawi government files (monthly reports by District Commissioners to the Office of the President).” While there he attended a conference of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and spoke with delegates. He said: “In private the persecution of the Jehovah’s Witnesses was a major talking-point, but in public in the conference hall it was never mentioned. An American—then Principal of Bunda College of Agriculture—did have the courage to protest at persecutions which took place on his campus. He was deported.”
Marijuana and Cancer
◆ According to research carried out by Indiana University’s Department of Chemistry, marijuana cigarettes contain higher concentrations of several cancer-causing agents than do tobacco cigarettes. The study suggested that the more potent the marijuana, the more cancer it might produce when smoked. Although the research is not yet fully conclusive and further studies are needed, a research scientist said that the evidence is highly suggestive that marijuana smokers are endangering their lives.
TV Watching Tops School
◆ A poll of students in grades 6 through 12 in New Haven, Connecticut, revealed that the typical teen-ager there spends more time watching television than he does in school. The TV watching averaged nearly seven hours a day compared to about five hours spent in the classroom. A surprising 19 percent of the students admitted to spending 10 hours a day in front of the TV. The study found a definite relationship between grades and the time spent watching TV. Those who got good grades spent less time in front of the tube and were more selective in the programs they viewed.
Squid a Popular Food
◆ Most people in the world do not include squid, also known as cuttlefish, in their regular diet. However, a survey by the Prime Minister’s Office in Japan shows that the amount of squid that Japanese eat surpasses even the popular sardine and mackerel. Dried squid is an accepted part of the Japanese diet. It is 85 percent edible, compared to 60 percent for boned fish. And its protein content and calorie content are generally higher than for most fish, making it very economical as well as nutritious.
Youths Quitting Church
◆ A survey of boys and girls attending Roman Catholic schools in Southwark, England, reveals that nearly half are quitting the church by the time they are 15 years old. The report, by a Catholic official, speaks of the “alarming rate” at which those between the ages of 14 and 30 are dropping out of the church in England and Wales.
Worth Only a Quarter
◆ Since 1939 the American dollar has fallen in value until it is now worth only 25 cents. This dramatic drop reflects the inflation that has persisted since then. Thus the dollar today, in terms of purchasing power, buys only a quarter of what it did 37 years ago.
◆ In the American West, cattle thieves are known as “rustlers.” Rustlers are reported still at it, but now they are not after cattle. Their chief target is crude and refined petroleum, and oil-field equipment. This is due to the huge increase in the price of oil during the past few years. At one drilling site, a Texas Ranger said that thieves took all the machinery, tools and oil in sight—“everything but the hole.” A major oil company reports losses from thefts of about $10 million a year.
◆ More and more of earth’s four billion people have come under dictatorial-type rule. U.S. News World Report says: “The year just ended was a disastrous one for people striving for freedom. At the start of 1976, only one in five individuals in the world’s 158 nations and 51 territories enjoyed full political and civil rights. A year earlier, one in three had been considered free.”
◆ The crime wave in the United States, especially in the cities, is creating public health problems. More and more city dwellers are acquiring large guard dogs to protect their homes and families. Doctor A. M. Beck, director of New York City’s Bureau of Animal Affairs, says that the larger dogs inflict more severe bites, even on innocent people, consume more food that humans need, spread disease and aggravate the waste problem. He estimated that the 500,000 dogs in New York city alone dump about 187 tons of droppings daily onto city streets, sidewalks and into the sewer system. “Such fecal contamination is a public health problem that would not be tolerated from any other mammalian source,” Beck said.
A Million Divorces
◆ For the first time, divorces in the United States passed the one-million mark last year. The National Center for Health Statistics said that the divorce rate was rising by nearly 5 percent annually, about five times the rate of population increase. The marriage rate was dropping by about 4 percent each year. These trends confirm that marriage is a deteriorating institution in America.
◆ The World Bank Atlas shows that the gap between the rich nations and the poor nations is widening. Annual output per person in the industrialized nations has grown to an average of $4,550. But for one billion people living in the poorest countries the average output is only $116. In those lands, economic advances have largely been wiped out by factors such as inflation, the huge increase in population, or by wars such as in southeast Asia, and droughts as in Africa.
Population Growth Continues
◆ A census taken in Japan late in 1975 revealed that the population of that land continues to grow significantly despite efforts to minimize the increase. In the past five years the population of Japan increased by 7,270,000. It is now 112,000,000, ranking sixth in the world, after China, India, the Soviet Union, the United States and Indonesia.
Gambling—a Health Hazard?
◆ A Los Angeles heart specialist feels that gambling on sporting events can be hazardous to health. The emotional stress on a spectator who has bet on a team, he states, “may well be as great as or greater than the physical effort put out by the athletes they watch . . . and their hearts are extraordinarily less capable of coping with tenseness than players.”
Buenos Aires Cheaper
◆ Among the world’s large cities, Argentina’s Buenos Aires is one where food costs are still more reasonable than in most other cities. A recent report in the United States Congressional Record notes that sirloin steak costs twice as much in Washington, D.C., and nearly 10 times as much in Tokyo as in Buenos Aires. Pork chops cost 6 times as much in Washington, nearly 10 times as much in Tokyo. Eggs, tomatoes, bacon and other items are also cheaper in Buenos Aires.
Unwanted Alaska “Boom”
◆ Building of the Alaska oil pipeline has resulted in an economic “boom” for that state. However, it has also brought with it another “boom,” an unwanted one. Parade magazine reports that Alaska “has become a land of runaway crime.” It states: “Peopled by pimps and prostitutes, Mafia figures and their associates, Alaska’s largest cities have developed into the criminal centers of the Far North.” In Fairbanks, for example, prostitution has increased 5,000 percent, drunkenness is up 4,216 percent, assaults on police 500 percent, drug offenses 171 percent and robberies 160 percent. Police say that they do not have sufficient manpower to control the crime.
Birds a Jet Threat
◆ In a recent nine-year period, birds are said to have caused 63 aviation accidents in the United States. Of these, 17 involved commercial airlines. Forty-six involved private planes, four of which crashed, killing 12 passengers. The most serious accident of this type took place in Boston in 1960. Birds were sucked into the engine of a jet airliner, reducing its thrust so that the plane crashed, killing 62 passengers. In 1962 two swans crashed into an airliner over Maryland, ripping its horizontal stabilizer and causing it to crash; 17 people were killed. Last November, sea gulls were sucked into an engine of a jumbo jet in New York, causing it to crash on takeoff, but all 139 passengers escaped without serious injury.
Low Corporate Morality
◆ In a speech to business executives in Zurich, Switzerland, F. T. Allen, chairman of Pitney Bowes, Inc., urged businessmen to “discuss and face the facts of the sad state of corporate morality.” Citing a survey of attitudes toward bribery, he found it “startling” that about half the businessmen contacted felt that corporations should pay bribes in countries where that was the normal business practice, which includes most of the world.
Ballet Dancers’ Pain
◆ The leaps and other moves of ballet dancers appear to an audience to be performed almost effortlessly. But these strenuous maneuvers are often accomplished despite searing pain of torn ligaments, infected callouses and fractured bones. Dr. E. H. Miller, an orthopedic surgeon in Cincinnati, reported that, for example, one male dancer examined for another ailment was found to have nine broken bones in his feet. During the examination of a ballerina who had a sprained ankle, she was discovered to have nine fractures in her calf bone. Another dancer he examined was taking 21 drugs to deal with pain.
Clerical Drain Continues
◆ For some years now, the number of priests and nuns in the Roman Catholic Church has been dropping. Fewer and fewer are taking up a clerical life, as seminary enrollments have declined drastically. In the archdiocese of New York, the smallest group of candidates in the history of the archdiocesan seminary was ordained late in 1975. There were only eight. Before 1969, the ordination class had always been 20 or more. This trend is widespread, not only in the United States, but all over the world.
Where the Wealth Is
◆ Among industrialized nations, the World Bank Atlas reports, last year the U.S. dropped behind Sweden and Switzerland in average gross national product per person. Sweden leads, with $6,720, followed by Switzerland, with $6,650, and the U.S., with $6,640.
However, among all nations, the tiny island nation of Nauru, midway between Hawaii and Australia, “is the richest of the world’s republics” from a per capita standpoint, says Fortune magazine. Last year exports of high-grade phosphates netted an average of $31,000 for each of Nauru’s 4,000 residents.
Millionaires by the Thousands
◆ The U.S. Census Bureau reports that the number of millionaires in the country tripled in ten years, reaching 222,000. Among them are only 18,000 single men (including widowers), while there are 61,000 single or widowed women.