Watching the World
◆ The persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Malawi has been widely criticized in the world press. Some commentators have suggested that this is evidence that many newly independent nations of Africa are not “civilized” enough for self-rule. But the Charleston Gazette reminds its American readers of their own past: “All of us should protest the treatment accorded the Witnesses in Malawi. But we should remember that we, too, were once moved by a false sense of patriotism to persecute, to a lesser degree, a harmless religious sect.” That persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the United States took place during the late 1930’s and early 1940’s. So such things can happen even in a democracy unless freedoms guaranteed by law are guarded.
Evolutionists Wrong Again
◆ Some years ago evolutionists proclaimed that at last the crucial missing link between beast and man had been found, labeling the ‘ape-man’ Australopithecus. But in recent months, fossils discovered in East Africa show that modern-type man existed at the same time as the supposed ‘ape-man.’ The New York Times says: “Researchers said the new fossils provided conclusive evidence that Australopithecus, an extinct species once thought to be transitional between ape and man, was, instead, a contemporary of early man that became an evolutionary dead end.” It is to be expected that promoters of evolution will come to such ‘dead ends,’ since their theory is not based on the truth.
◆ When an Arab oil embargo went into effect after the October 1973 Middle East war, proposals were made in the United States to become more independent of imported oil. However, the opposite has occurred. Domestic oil production has actually declined in recent years, and during one week in March of this year, for the first time in its history, the United States imported more oil than it produced. So instead of becoming more independent of outside oil sources, it has become more dependent than ever.
◆ Priest-sociologist Andrew Greeley attributes much of the sharp decline in church attendance to the pope’s anticontraception encyclical “Humanae Vitae” in 1968. Catholic columnist Mary Carson, writing in the Catholic newspaper Tablet, stated that Catholics should ignore the pope’s “mistaken” teachings on birth control. She added: “The day we have a woman Pope who has had 17 children, that day the church’s position on birth control will change.”
‘Dead’ Without Bingo
◆ New York priest Thomas Coyne notes that the falloff in church collections has put many parishes in a severe financial squeeze. He quotes a neighborhood priest as saying: “If they ever outlaw bingo in this archdiocese, we’re dead.” The National Opinion Research Center claims that the overwhelming rejection by the laity of the 1968 papal ban on artificial birth control is responsible for a drop of about one billion dollars a year in the Church’s income.
Increased Surgery Risk
◆ Dr. Alan Pierce, lung specialist at Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, says that cigarette smokers have a much higher risk of pulmonary complications from surgery than do nonsmokers. He said that these include lung collapse and infections leading to such diseases as pneumonia. Dr. James Patterson of Portland also stated: “People do not realize how bad smoking is for them, how terrible the increase in cardiovascular troubles and lung disease. They don’t realize that in their later years they will be unable to do activities they planned on.”
◆ “Despite all the warnings about pollution it is man’s search for firewood which is likely to become the environmental problem of the 20th century,” the Melbourne Herald observes. About half the timber cut in the world still fulfills its ancient role as fuel for cooking and for heating. And because of huge population increases, the destruction of forests is picking up speed, especially In Africa, Asia and Latin America. In the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s journal Ceres, Dr. Erik Eckholm observes: “Trees are becoming scarce in the most unlikely places. Nepalese foresters told me that in some of the most remote villages in the world, deep in the once heavily forested foothills of Nepal, journeying out to gather firewood and fodder is now an entire day’s task. Just one generation ago the same expedition required no more than an hour or two.”
Deserts on the March
◆ Deserts are expanding. It is believed that among the main causes are harmful agricultural practices due to increasing population pressures. A study shows that about 43 percent of the earth’s land surface is dry and barren, but only 36 percent is due to climatic conditions. The 7 percent difference is attributed to degrading by man. Among the causes of desert expansion are overgrazing by livestock and cultivation of land that can support agriculture only in good years. The result, when drought years come, is eradication of the vegetation, erosion, and the formation of permanent desert.
Rodents Attack Crops
◆ The French press agency reports that a plague of rats ravaged vast crop-growing regions of Senegal, West Africa. It was viewed as a national disaster unparalleled since the recent drought years that affected many West African countries. In one area near Dakar, experts said, there were 80,000 rats per acre.
◆ Tests conducted in a Quebec hospital showed a great difference in reactions by babies to the same rocking motion. Some babies reacted with a faster heartbeat, some with a slower heart rate, and others had no reaction at all. Some of the babies cried, others relaxed drowsily. Doctors and psychologists there say they have no explanation as to why these normal babies reacted so differently. But one stated: “All we know now is that right from the moment of birth each baby is an individual with his or her own personality traits.”
Lock Your Car
◆ According to insurance officials, about 80 percent of all cars stolen in the United States were unlocked. Some 40 percent still had the key in the car. There are now one million cars stolen each year, the majority of them by people under the age of twenty-one who take advantage of unlocked vehicles.
Farmers Are Older
◆ In times past, many young American couples would begin farming on a small amount of acreage, perhaps borrowing money to start out. Now farming has become such a large scale and competitive industry that younger persons find it almost impossible to start a farm on their own. It is reported that the “start-up” cost of an American farm now runs at as much as $250,000. That is one reason why the average age of farmers in the country is now 50.3 years.
Family Breakups Increase
◆ More than a million divorces—1,026,000—were recorded last year among Americans, a 6-percent increase over the previous year. That is an all-time high, twice what it was ten years ago. Marriages decreased 4 percent last year, to 2.1 million, the lowest level since 1969. So there is now one divorce for every two marriages in the nation, testifying to the general breakdown of family life.
More Live Alone
◆ The number of Americans living alone is rising dramatically, from 11 million in 1970 to 14 million in 1975. Households with only two persons rose from 18 to 22 million. Thus, half the nation’s 71 million households are now occupied by only one or two persons. A Census Bureau report noted: What this means is, physically speaking, the American family is becoming increasingly fragmented and isolated.” Declining birth rates, increasing of divorces and marital separations, a rise in the number of women who have children without husbands, and a growing number who prefer to live alone are all factors. Said Cornell University psychologist Urie Bronfenbrenner: “All of these things splashed together mean an unraveling of the social fabric, and that means trouble.”
High Kite Toll
◆ During the past New Year’s season, power utility companies in Japan claimed to have suffered well over a million dollars in damage from Western-style kites, says the Daily Yomiuri. About 70,000 workers were mobilized to remove 92,000 kites caught on power lines throughout Japan. Five persons were killed when they tried to retrieve their own kites, and others were injured.
Football Can Be Deadly
◆ In one year 218,000 football-related injuries were treated in hospitals. The American Football Coaches Association reports that each year nearly 20 football players die from head and neck injuries suffered while playing football, and about 10 others die from football-related causes such as heart failure and strokes.
◆ Police in Salisbury, Rhodesia, say that about a hundred persons have been killed by lightning in that country in less than a year. The worst incident occurred when 21 people in the same hut were killed by a bolt of lightning.
Pesticide Effectiveness Down
◆ The National Academy of Sciences in the United States says that chemical control of important insect pests is losing its effectiveness. A spokesman states that the decline has now become alarming. One factor was the appearance in many insects of genetic resistance to the pesticides. Also, the heavy use of chemicals kills the pests’ natural enemies. The Academy recommended increased efforts at developing a “new generation of chemical pesticides,” alternating crops to interrupt the life cycle of insects, and employment of biological weapons such as viruses and microbes and other insect enemies.
Afraid to Testify
◆ A law-enforcement research team in the United States says that because of the fear of reprisals, 23 percent of the eye-witnesses to crimes they interviewed deliberately provided police with incorrect names and home addresses. The result: numerous criminal cases were dropped due to lack of evidence. The fears are not altogether unjustified. In Cincinnati, 35 percent of the victims of crime who were preparing to testify reported that they had been threatened with reprisals. The Rocky Mountain News of Denver comments: “Fear of crime is growing as rapidly as crime itself. It is bad enough that thousands of people in our cities fear crime so much that they live behind barred windows and doublelocked doors. It’s even worse that thousands more live behind the invisible bars of fear that keep them from cooperating with the law.”
Lesbian Episcopal Deacon
◆ New York’s Episcopal bishop Paul Moore said that the ordination of avowed lesbian Ellen Barrett as a deacon “is a healthy development in our culture and our church.” He noted: “Historically many of the finest clergy in our church have had this personality structure, but only recently has the social climate made it possible to be open about it.” Moore asserted that homosexuality “is not a question of morality.” But God differs with the bishop, viewing as “disgraceful” the sexual conduct of women who change “the natural use of themselves into one contrary to nature.”—Rom. 1:26, 27.
◆ Sweden recently completed a six-mile-long subway line running from Stockholm to suburban Hjulsta. Its decorated stations feature such artworks as sculptures, golden mosaics, murals and even drawings by children. Therefore, some term this underground rail line “the world’s longest art gallery,” according to Parade magazine.