Watching the World
◆ “It isn’t often that representatives of organized religion stand up for the Jehovah’s Witnesses,” wrote the editor of Canada’s United Church Observer recently. “However, they are a courageous group and probably endure more persecution for less offence than any other religious group in the world.” He went on to note their recent persecution in Malawi and then added: “The Witnesses’ record in Nazi Germany was one of the most courageous in the world. We don’t hear much about the way they stood up to Hitler. . . . No other sect stood so firm or suffered so much in proportion to their size.
“They are uncompromising in their resistance to totalitarian regimes and military dictatorships. (In Cuba Fidel Castro has got things organized with the other religious groups but he doesn’t know what to do with the Witnesses of Jehovah.) In Malawi as in many other African states they could and would be good, moral and productive citizens, if a foolish government didn’t try to force them to do what they believe they shouldn’t do—join a party and vote.”
◆ What happens to the 80,000 tons (72,574 metric tons) of rubber that wears off American car tires each year onto the highways? “Astonishingly, many scientists have failed to find any trace of automotive fallout,” writes chemist J. Robert Kelly in The National Observer. What little has been measured required “very sophisticated instruments.” Though scientists are still not certain, he says, “it appears likely . . . that a number of microorganisms living on the sides of our highways are indeed eating and surviving on these rubber munchies.”
River Springs ‘Leaks’
◆ Ordinarily rivers are fed by water runoff from surrounding land. But during the recent European drought, the reverse was true of a part of Britain’s famous river Thames. The water table (underground water level) near the river dropped so much that water was ‘leaking’ from the river back into the land. The flow of the Thames into the sea dropped to about a sixteenth of its normal volume. Historians were unable to find evidence of a more serious drought in England from records as far back as five hundred years.
◆ A recent Southern Baptist convention held in Norfolk, Virginia, had to limit attendance at one session because of security precautions for a presidential visit. Angry delegates left outside shouted down an attempt to explain. A Baptist from nearby Newport News observed that their conduct “didn’t seem very Christian,” saying that “as a Christian group we should accept situations. The way we react affects other people who might desire to become Christians.” Accordingly, one young policeman observing the protesting delegates said: “If this is the way Baptists act, I’m glad I’m not one.”—Newport News Times-Herald, June 16, 1976.
Runs in the Family
◆ A Seattle, Washington, family has seven surviving sons with a total of 192 arrests among them! The youngest, 11, already has six arrests under his belt since age six. The next, 13, has 30 arrests; the 15-year-old, 31; the 16-year-old, 40. The 17-year-old holds the arrest record with 52, while his imprisoned older brother (18) has 29. The 20-year-old has been arrested 31 times. Another brother, aged 27, was killed by a shotgun blast and another “ran into a knife” at age 23, according to the mother. “I hope to God we’ve turned the corner,” she complained to a Seattle detective, “because I’ll tell you, mister, I can’t take much more.”
◆ Because workers along the Trans Alaska Pipeline were feeding the local bears, a “bear emergency” had to be declared by state game authorities. One official said that the workers “are addicting these animals to nonnatural foods and no matter what their intentions may be, they are effectively signing a death warrant against the animals.” Some bears have had to be killed as a threat to pipeline workers, “and it was the workers’ fault in the first place by trying to turn them into pets,” notes another official. Relocating the bears miles away, he says, is “mostly an exercise in futility.” They come right back for more.
◆ When migraine headache sufferers feel that their brain is being twisted out of shape, it just may be. The new computerized axial tomography (CT scan) machine that can “look into” body organs has given doctors their first view of a brain under migraine attack. Abnormalities of structure were evident and these were gone four to six weeks later, according to a report in Medical Tribune.
◆ Rhodesian clergyman Zyomundita Kurewa, assistant to Methodist Bishop Abel Muzorewa, recently urged African churches to “find a new name” for Jesus Christ. He claims that Jesus’ name is “linked with oppressors of black people” and with “Western culture introduced by alien missionaries.” Yet Bishop Muzorewa advocates “temporary righteous violence” against the present Rhodesian government as an “act of higher Christian responsibility.” Apparently the Rhodesian clergy are already following a Christ different from the Biblical one, who said, “My kingdom is no part of this world.”—John 18:36.
Maggots to the Rescue
◆ When all else failed to cure a stubborn case of mastoiditis (bone infection behind the ear), doctors at the University of Texas Health Science Center tried an “obsolete” remedy—maggots. Before the maggots, “we tried everything,” said one doctor. Finally, the understandably reluctant patient agreed that something had to be done. So twenty sterile “black bottle blowfly” larvae were placed in the wound. After seven days the maggots were removed, and healthy new tissue growing there was soon covered with a skin graft. The patient was still fine after eighteen months.
How the maggots aid in healing is very uncertain, but the report in Archives of Otolaryngology notes that failure of antibiotics against increasingly resistant bacterial strains may give maggot therapy a future. For the patient, though, the attendant itching is a problem. “I don’t mean bad itching,” said one of the doctors. “I mean bad, bad itching.”
◆ More than two years ago bicyclist Robert Morris left New Jersey on an around-the-world tour. In August he arrived in Los Angeles after traveling 28,000 miles (45,062 kilometers), at a total cost of about $4,000. He had pedaled through much of Europe, the length of Africa, Australia, southeast Asia, Hong Kong and Japan. Then he flew to California for the 3,000-mile (4,828-kilometer) homestretch back to New Jersey. Morris said that his travels had taught him some “common sense.” “People in the U.S. have become too materialistic,” he observed. “They need to learn how to budget their money and appreciate simple things.”
◆ Crowds filled the ancient Roman arenas to see the blood of men and animals spilled there. Recently in Hartford, Connecticut, a modern crowd seemed to have similar blood lust. When a girl, apparently under the influence of drugs, slashed her arms with a razor and then held it to her throat to keep authorities at bay, a hooting crowd yelled, “Do it, sister! Do your thing, sister! Right on!” according to a police detective. Eyewitnesses said the crowd “were just like animals.” “It was like they were witnessing a spectacle at a football game.”
◆ Japanese veterinarian Junki Uyama reportedly has a very unusual but highly effective medical assistant—a chimpanzee named Chosuke. The three-year-old simian understands words such as scissors, stethoscope and doctor’s bag, “and if I ask for them he quickly brings them to me,” says the vet. As to the chimp’s other skills, Uyama notes that “dogs and cats usually go wild when being given injections or medical care, but they quickly calm down when Chosuke holds them. There must be some sort of psychological effect in having another calm animal on hand.”
◆ Religious money-raising struck a new note in Pulheim, West Germany, when the Gnade Evangelical Church raised $800 for a bride price. The money was for the pastor of a Lutheran church in Kabale, Uganda, who needed the traditional four cows to satisfy his future father-in-law. Before the donation he had only enough money for one cow, according to the report by United Press International.
◆ Finnish dentists report that a sweetener (xylitol) they have been testing actually seems to inhibit tooth decay. The sweetener is found naturally in many fruits, vegetables and other plants. Finland has been pioneering its use to sweeten gum and candy for over three years. A study by the University of Turku found that fifty dental students who chewed sugar-sweetened gum had an average of three new cavities in one year. But fifty other students who chewed xylitol-sweetened gum, though eating anything else they wanted, reportedly had an average decrease of one cavity! The price of xylitol currently is eighteen times that of sugar, though experts believe that volume sales could reduce this greatly.
Get a Horse!
◆ Utah Congressman McKay has reportedly told the U.S. House of Representatives that the old Pony Express could deliver mail from Sacramento, California, to Salt Lake City, Utah, in 39 hours and 11 minutes. He claimed that now the U.S. Postal Service’s best time for delivery takes 25 minutes longer.
◆ A certain advertising agency recently was looking for a new twist to push yogurt sales for a sponsor on TV. Looking through National Geographic magazine, they reportedly noted an article on the 125- and 130-year-olds of Soviet Georgia. Georgians of all ages, they learned, love yogurt. A crew quickly was dispatched to Russia to film aging Georgians happily spooning the sponsor’s yogurt for American TV watchers this fall.
What They Want
◆ When a theater owner in southern California recently decided to change his format from X-rated (pornographic) films, he got a rude awakening as to what the public wants. To promote the change, he dropped the admission from $3.50 to $1.50 and began projecting family-type films. He also wrote seventy letters to various community groups advising them of the change. The result?
“I had whole days when I took in $6,” he said. “It was impossible.” After allegedly losing $11,000 in six weeks, he returned to the previous format. “The first Wednesday that we went back to Xs we did a land-office business,” he noted.
◆ In a lecture at the Hamburg Catholic Academy, West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt responded to the prodding of Catholic bishops for more government legislation involving basic values—abortion, marriage, and so on. He told them: “If the churches are forced to complain about the endangering of basic values, then this is manifestly a sign that the Church is no longer reaching a large part of its members with its arguments about basic values.” The report in Süddeutsche Zeitung relates that Chancellor Schmidt said he ‘was forced to ask himself if the cry raised against the government was not, rather, an expression of the Church’s own inability to transmit its standards of basic values to the people.’