Watching the World
Violence in the Schools
◆ The National Education Association has revealed that in the United States during the last school year students committed 270,000 school burglaries, 12,000 armed robberies, 9,000 rapes and 100 murders. In reporting such figures, The Wall Street Journal also states that teachers in Arkansas have lobbied for a law permitting gun searches at school, without warrants. Certain schools in Los Angeles reportedly have linked central offices with alarms in the classrooms, in an effort to give teachers better protection.
◆ In January, a Congressional subcommittee reported that some 2.38 million needless surgical operations had been performed in the United States during 1974, resulting in about 11,900 unnecessary deaths. This is said to have cost the public almost $4 billion, of which over $1 billion was spent on needless surgery performed on Medicaid or aged Medicare patients.
Is Aspirin for You?
◆ Writing in the New York Daily News, T. R. Van Dellen, M.D., states: “In a small number of patients using aspirin, a condition develops that is characterized by runny nose, nasal polyps and bronchial asthma.” He also says that “severe reactions may result in shock and death.” Dr. Van Dellen advised an inquirer apparently sensitive to aspirin to avoid even the use of medicines containing it. Medical opinions vary, of course, and matters of treatment must be decided personally.
Bible Animals Reappear
◆ Leopards, mountain goats, antelopes and gazelles were among the animals plentiful during Bible times in the territory of modern-day Israel. Through the years, reduced wilderness areas and excessive hunting have resulted in the elimination of certain creatures and a great reduction in the number of others once common in that land. However, Sinai leopards, thought to be extinct, were seen in the Judean Desert about a year ago. More recently, these large cats have appeared also in the Jordan Valley. Some 9 years ago the population of the mountain goat, or ibex, was down to about 300, but protection and breeding have increased its number to possibly 4,000. Israel’s Nature Reserves Authority has promoted the breeding of various kinds of wild animals in captivity. Hence, in a fenced desert area at the Hai Bar Reserve near Eilat are found herds of such animals as the antelope and gazelle.
◆ During the first six months of 1975 the number of bankruptcies soared in Common Market nations. France headed the list with 8,048. Next came Great Britain, which had 4,895, then West Germany with 4,316. Of ten lands, the small country of Luxembourg had the lowest number—10 bankruptcies.
Express Train Outlaws
◆ Travelers aboard night express trains in Europe are being robbed regularly. The thieves reportedly open a compartment door slightly and spray the inside with chloroform from an aerosol can. Within minutes the unwitting passenger is slumbering and the outlaws help themselves to money, gems and other valuables. These are put in bags that are thrown from the trains at predetermined places, where the loot is picked up by accomplices. Joe Hollander writes in London’s Sunday Times: “Many travellers, warned of what can happen by handbills distributed at main line Italian stations, are now avoiding the long distance night expresses. Paris rail police chief, Commissaire Aure, says, ‘We know of cases reported to us at the Paris main line termini. There have been more than 2,000 complaints this year which is practically double that of previous years.’”
State of Health
◆ The United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare recently issued a three-volume report on that country’s health. Among other things, the study showed that from 1950 to 1974 the infant mortality rate had dropped from 29.2 to an estimated 16.5 deaths for a thousand live births. Between the years 1940 and 1970, persons over 65 had become more than twice as numerous, reaching 20.2 million. The study also revealed that venereal disease had increased, especially among young people.
TV Comes to South Africa
◆ During the last half of 1975, some 250,000 color TV sets were purchased in South Africa. Then, on January 5, the country’s first nationwide television presentations were seen by an estimated million viewers, nearly all of them white residents. Electricity is lacking in the homes of the nation’s 18 million black inhabitants, who occupy their own townships and rural homelands. The government-supported South African Broadcasting Corporation’s daily program schedule covers five hours, equally divided between English and Afrikaans, the languages spoken by the country’s white population of approximately 4 million. Broadcasting officials have said that by 1980 they hope to have a television channel for South Africa’s black majority.
‘Plastic Fire’ Peril
◆ Carbon monoxide poisoning is a frequent cause of death in fires. But another hazard has been mentioned by Victor H. Esch, M.D., chief surgeon of the District of Columbia Fire Department. The Journal of the American Medical Association quotes Dr. Esch as saying that “more and more often” fire deaths result from carbon monoxide “in combination with many other toxic products given off by such materials as the widely used plastics.” He remarks: “Every time I go into a restaurant loaded with plastic decorations, I look where the nearest exit is—in case of fire.” It is wise to find out where a building’s fire exits are under any circumstances.
Fighting a Grease Fire
◆ If oil or grease begins burning in a frying pan, do not douse it with water. That will spatter the pan’s contents and spread the fire. Rather, the easiest way to control the fire is to turn off the burner and place a lid on the pan, says the National Safety Council.
Pisa’s Leaning Tower
◆ For eight centuries, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy, has been an object of interest and conversation. The top of the 179-foot tower now leans 16 feet from a vertical position, and it is said to be tilting approximately 4 inches farther each century. Some contend that the tower will fall in 60 years unless successful steps are taken to save it. To that end, the Italian government has sponsored a competition, and Newsweek magazine reports: “The government has whittled thousands of entries down to five finalists—and may combine their suggestions into an over-all plan, part of which would include injecting a mixture of glass and cement into the soft ground beneath the tower’s foundation.”
Driving in a Wheelchair
◆ A French firm has built an electric car especially designed for persons confined to wheelchairs. When an outside button is pushed, the vehicle is lowered and the wheelchair enters through the rear door and is fixed in place. The handicapped individual remains in the chair while driving. Costing some $4,000, this car can travel up to 30 miles an hour and has a 50-mile range, reports Parade magazine. The vehicle also has space for one occupant besides the driver.
◆ The French government recently announced that in January 1977 a law would go into effect in France that would prohibit the use of foreign words in advertisements and the like when there is a French equivalent. So men in France may no longer be reading ads about “le aftershave,” for example. The law will relate to language used in a “description, tender, presentation, written or spoken advertisements, instructions, the extent and conditions of a guarantee of a product or a service, as well as in bills and receipts.” This is part of current efforts to maintain the purity of the French language.
Israel’s Traffic Troubles
◆ During 1974 there were 14,850 automobile accidents in Israel that involved injury or death. The country has 421,000 autos, about the same number as Delaware (in the United States), which had only 4,129 car accidents during the same year. A study by the Road Safety Center of Haifa’s Institute of Technology indicates that half of the automobiles involved in accidents had failed mechanically and that few residents of Israel can afford to keep their cars in working condition. Illustrating the problem is the fact that a clutch disk costing only $7.50 in West Germany sells for $39 in Israel. When police recently checked almost 8,500 older autos, they found a fourth of them defective. Nearly one out of eight was so bad that it was ordered off the road until it could be repaired.
Newly Found Asteroid
◆ The California Institute of Technology has announced the discovery of a previously unsighted asteroid. Known as 1976 AA, it is almost 2 miles across and was photographed on January 7 at Mount Palomar Observatory. The asteroid was some 12 million miles from the earth and has an orbit bringing it nearer to us than any other known heavenly body except the moon. But a collision between this asteroid and the earth has been ruled out by the Institute because, in the earth’s present course around the sun, the orbits of 1976 AA and our globe do not meet.
How Many Catholics?
◆ Of the world’s 3,803,999,000 inhabitants, the most recent tally indicates that 18.3 percent, or 688,991,000, are Roman Catholics. However, other data in the Vatican Statistical Yearbook for 1973 reveals that the number of priests and men belonging to religious orders had dropped to 413,672 in 1973. This is down 4,102 from the previous year. That amounts to only one priest, monk or Catholic brother for about 1,665 Roman Catholics.
◆ The Vatican’s recently launched anti-Communist political offensive in Italy has proved embarrassing to many church members, both clergy and laity. Communist party secretary Enrico Berlinguer’s wife reportedly attended Mass regularly. It is also reported that a group of radical Catholics angrily sent a protest to the pope that “a worthy non-Catholic mayor is better than an unworthy [Catholic-backed] Christian Democrat.” And a priest in one parish said: “I happen to know that those young people who are most involved in our parish activities . . . vote Communist. What position am I supposed to take?”
Air Traffic Growth Rate
◆ The 132-country International Civil Aviation Organization reports that scheduled airline traffic grew only 2 percent in 1975, whereas it had increased 6 percent during the previous year. Airlines transported 529 million passengers 420 billion miles in 1975. Air freight traffic amounted to 13 billion ton-miles, down only a little from the year before. But why the low growth rate in airline traffic? “The continued recession in much of the world’s economy” is responsible, according to the Organization.
Abortion’s Capital City
◆ A New York city Health Department study has revealed that, on the average, one in five women of childbearing age residing there has had an abortion since 1971, when abortion was legalized in New York State. In the last five years, 850,000 legal abortions have been performed in New York city. Twenty-two percent of the 122,000 abortions performed there last year involved those who had formerly had at least one abortion since the year 1970. According to federal data, a fifth of the 616,000 legal abortions in the United States during 1973 were performed in New York city. This gives it the dubious distinction of being the country’s abortion capital.