Watching the World
Keep Bank Accounts Active
◆ At times, laws that govern banks change, but there may be little publicity about the changes so that the public is not aware of them. One example is a law in New York State regarding bank accounts that are not kept active—“dormant” bank accounts. Previously a bank account that was not kept up to date, such as by having the interest posted or making deposits or withdrawals, was turned over to the state after ten years. Recently, the law in New York was changed so that dormant bank accounts are now turned over to the state after only five years.
“Pop Top” Danger
◆ Many beverages are sold in cans that have pull-out metal tabs. These “pop tops” often litter picnic grounds, parks, beaches and other places. They are a menace, not only to those who might be barefoot, but also to young children. In a three-and-a-half-year period, one Chicago doctor treated seven infants who had swallowed the metal tabs. Four of the children required operations, and one of them died. A four-month-old baby with a breathing problem was found to have a rolled-up metal “pop top” lodged between his vocal cords.
City Bans Smoking
◆ The Black Sea resort city of Sochi in the Soviet Union has banned cigarette smoking on its beaches, in restaurants, government offices, public and private transportation, as well as in schools and hospitals. The city calls itself the first “no-smoking city” in that country. While there is no law forbidding smoking in the open streets, there is a strong public campaign to stop even such smoking. Says the mayor of Sochi: “We’re hoping that it will soon be as ridiculous to appear in public with a cigarette in your mouth as to walk down [a boulevard] in your pajamas.”
Do Salmon Use Smell?
◆ How do salmon know the location of their home stream when they return to spawn? University of Wisconsin scientists claim that they retain and use the chemical scents of the stream where they were born. In an experiment, thousands of salmon were hatched under identical conditions and divided into three groups. For six weeks one group was exposed to a certain chemical, the second group to a different chemical, and the third group was not exposed to any chemical. Later, the salmon were released into streams near Lake Michigan and migrated into the lake. At spawning time, two streams near the lake were scented, each with a different one of the two chemicals used previously. Of the fish treated with the first chemical, 95 percent returned to the stream scented with that chemical. And 91 percent of the second group returned to the stream treated with its chemical. The fish not treated with a chemical went to a variety of different streams. It is thought that smell made the difference.
Hatred in Sports
◆ It is said that competitive sports improve character. But often those participating even in “noncontact” sports display aggression and hatred toward their opponents. Psychology Today tells of an Olympic performer who “sits alone, head down, eyes closed, building aggression and a feeling of hatred for the next opponent.” Often, not only the participants, but also the viewers display the same undesirable qualities.
◆ Woodpeckers hammer away at trees hundreds of times a day. What protects their head from injury? A group of researchers at the University of California in Los Angeles proposed various theories. But then, research in Britain differed, even contradicting some of the other group’s conclusions. Thus, how the woodpecker’s head is protected from injury is still not clear. What is clear is that the bird’s Creator knew exactly how to form its head for maximum protection for the type of “work” it would be doing.
Fear of Flying
◆ Many people suffer from aviophobia—the fear of flying. The intensity of this fear varies from those who are very nervous on planes to those who cannot board an aircraft at all. In the United States alone there may be 20 million people who suffer from this fear.
◆ Proportionately, women have more body fat than do men. Dr. Joan Ullyot of San Francisco says that this provides superior resistance to exposure and starvation. That is why, she states, women often survive better than men in shipwrecks or mountaineering accidents.
Childrens’ Vulgar Letters
◆ A class of fifth grade schoolchildren in California was assigned to write a state senator regarding his view on a certain issue. One fourth of the letters “were riddled with obscenities and dirty drawings, even extending to the envelopes,” said an official. Their letters reflect the breakdown in moral quality that is evident throughout human society today.
Sense of Humor
◆ Earlier this year, police and FBI agents in Washington, D.C., created a fake stolen-goods operation to seize sellers of stolen merchandise. They arrested scores of people. A few months later, the authorities decided to repeat the operation, in spite of the publicity given the case. Once again, many were caught trying to sell stolen goods, among them a number who had been arrested in the previous case. The name that the law enforcement officials gave a fake company used in the second operation was: “G. Y. A. Inc.” The letters stood for: “Got Ya Again.”
◆ The Bureau of Pest Control in New York City found that 12 percent of the rats it trapped in one period were of the “super rat” variety. These are rats that can eat about ten times the normal lethal dose of poison without dying. They then multiply and gradually replace their weaker cousins. Because of budget cuts, officials predict a rise both in the total city rat population (about nine million now) and the proportion of “super rats.” A new poison is being tested for “super rats,” but it is very dangerous and must be carefully controlled, keeping people away and picking up the rat carcasses, since cats that eat them will die too.
Few Basic Crops
◆ Most of the earth’s four billion people are fed by less than twenty basic crops. These include grain crops such as wheat, rice, corn, millet and sorghum. Among the root crops are the potato, sweet potato and cassava. Legumes include peas, various beans, peanuts and soybeans. Other basics are sugarcane, sugar beets, coconuts and bananas. Because the number of basic crops is relatively limited, experts recommend developing other long-neglected plant species to supplement them. They fear that if even a few of the present crops are severely damaged by disease or insects, there would not be enough others to prevent mass starvation.
◆ The United States is the wealthiest nation on earth. Yet, according to Senator George McGovern, about 18 million people receive some kind of food-stamp assistance. He asserted: “If we did not have that, we would have a social revolution in the United States. What would be the situation in areas like Detroit and other areas of high unemployment if it were not for the fact that people at least can feed their families, thanks to this program?” Others criticize the program, claiming that it includes some people who are not really in poverty.
◆ Scientists long have been trying to establish the age of the universe. Some had calculated it to be a few billion years old. Then it was said to be about 10 billion years of age. Later it was estimated to be from 15 to 17 billion. The most recent, reported in Science News, is 20 billion years. Scientists base their estimates on the radioactive decay of certain elements such as uranium. That the universe is acknowledged to have an age also means that it had a beginning, which is what the Bible says at Genesis 1:1.
“Heavily in Hock”
◆ An economist has figured the total wealth of the American people to be 5.7 trillion dollars. But another economist calculates that the federal government alone would need that much to meet all its obligations. A Wall Street Journal editorial commented: “Congress has made promises to pay out a sum equivalent to all the stocks, bonds, bank accounts, land, buildings, highways, machinery, gold or what have you in the country.” It added: “On top of the federal commitments against that wealth are all the state and local government commitments. The upshot: we are a rich country indeed, but a country that is nonetheless heavily in hock.”
◆ For years a list of endangered animals has been protected by law in the United States. Now, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced a listing of endangered plants, some 1,700 types. The agency proposes forbidding the taking of these plants for commercial purposes between states and countries. If the plants become extinct, in all likelihood certain birds, insects and other small types of life would be jeopardized, since they depend on these plants for existence.
Only for the Rich?
◆ In New York State, the deans of eight medical schools warned that the cost of training doctors has risen so much that in the future the profession may be only for the children of the rich. Soaring tuition fees and other costs, as well as cuts in federal and state aid to such schools, have put a medical education beyond the budget of most poorer families. In 1973 more than half the applicants to these schools were from families with incomes of less than $12,000 annually. Last year, only 32 percent were.
Another Insecticide Problem
◆ In recent years various insecticides have been banned because of their danger to life. Now the National Cancer Institute in the United States has announced that the insecticide Kepone (technical grade chlordecone) has been found to cause cancer in animals and severe neurological symptoms in humans. Studies of 135 former employees where it was manufactured showed that more than half had high blood levels of the insecticide, and 80 had symptoms of poisoning. Of five women who became pregnant while their husbands worked at the plant, two had stillbirths and one had a spontaneous abortion. In Virginia, the insecticide contaminated a major river.
◆ Despite the clear evidence that cigarette smoking damages health, causing about 90 percent of lung-cancer deaths, the bad habit is on the increase. In 1971, the year that a ban against cigarette advertising on radio and television took effect, 547 billion cigarettes were sold in the United States. But in 1975 a record 600 billion were sold. Concern is expressed about the sharp increase in smoking by teenagers, especially girls. This is in spite of the Surgeon General’s warning on all cigarette advertising, as well as on the package itself.
◆ With the help of about 50 children, housewives and passersby, Kazuhiko Asaba managed to get 1,050 kites high into the air over Japan on a mile-long (1,800 meter) cord. It took about two hours to get all the 18- by 33-inch (46- by 84-cm.) kites aloft. The feat far surpassed last year’s world record of 352 kites flying at once. Asaba also flew a single kite last year with an area of over 1,000 square feet (93 square meters).