Watching the World
Russia’s “Liberated” Women
◆ According to an Associated Press dispatch from Moscow, the weekly journal Literary Gazette says that irate men by the dozens are complaining that Soviet liberated women are losing femininity. One man from Leningrad said: “Every man would like to see in his house an atmosphere of softness, warmth, and, if you will, of purity.” Instead, he stated that women today are trying to act like men, “smoking, drinking, cursing and engaging in free love.” Another man, from the town of Volzhskiy, wrote: “Every man dreams of a woman who’s soft, loving, expressive, affectionate, modest and shy, of a feminine woman. But they’re getting harder and harder to find. Men are getting fed up with crude women who have the manners of cowboys. Their bossy shouts around the house, their shabby way of dressing and their swaggering way of drinking bottoms-up like a man turns the home into a crude barracks.”
◆ A news report from Athens reveals that police have been searching for what is described as “a large band of burglars and antiquity-thieves.” The criminals have been breaking into churches and monasteries in the Greek provinces. They have stolen icons by the score, and many of these items of notable antique value have been sold abroad. In the home of one man arrested, the police discovered 39 pilfered Byzantine icons.
◆ In early December, Switzerland’s voters rejected the idea of shortening their normal workweek from 48 to 40 hours. Participating in the voting were about 44 percent of the country’s eligible voters, and they were 4 to 1 against the cut in hours. The Socialist and Communist proposal was rejected by 1.3 million persons, whereas approximately 370,000 were in favor of it.
Teen-Age “Status Symbol”?
◆ Betty Schwartz, a social welfare executive from the U.S., recently told an Ontario, Canada, conference on family planning that for many girls a baby born out of wedlock becomes “living proof that you have made it sexually; therefore you have made it as a human being.” According to the New York Post, she said that having such babies was becoming a “status symbol” for girls in their teens. Miss Schwartz reportedly said that communities need to “unsell babies as a status symbol for young adolescents.” Of course, no such “status symbol” exists among true Christian youths, for they realize that godly persons must “keep abstaining . . . from fornication.”—Acts 15:28, 29.
“Desecration of the Sabbath”
◆ By a narrow margin of 55 to 48 votes, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s coalition government survived a no-confidence motion on December 14. His government had been accused of “desecration of the sabbath” because of a welcoming ceremony on Friday, December 10, for three American-made fighter planes. The ceremony ended just 17 minutes before the beginning of the Jewish sabbath and many could not drive their cars home before it began. Driving on the sabbath is not permissible for religious Jews.
Coffee and Caffeine
◆ Three tests recently conducted by Lynn T. Kozlowski of Connecticut’s Wesleyan University indicated that the subjects drank more coffee when it contained less caffeine. Test participants were to rate the coffee as to taste and how it made the drinkers feel. During a three-day study, 12 regular coffee drinkers consumed coffee containing varying amounts of caffeine. Though noting no caffeine-associated difference in taste, they drank more coffee when the amount of caffeine was small. In the other two tests with 12 and 25 participants (for 3 and 4 weeks respectively) drinking from an institutional pot, again it was found that the lower the caffeine content, the more coffee they drank. Increased consumption apparently was linked with achieving a feeling of well-being that is produced by caffeine.
Alcohol and Oral Contraceptives
◆ University of Oklahoma researchers have found that alcohol remains longer in the blood of women using oral contraceptives than it does in that of other women. According to Parade magazine, psychologist Ben Morgan Jones says that tests indicate that alcohol is not absorbed as quickly by a woman’s body “when it contains substances found in oral contraceptives.”
◆ Partial statistics furnished by the World Health Organization (WHO) reveal that West Berlin and Hungary have the highest rates of suicide in the world. To illustrate: During 1970, 67.5 men in 100,000 and 33.8 women per 100,000 committed suicide in West Berlin. WHO says that comparisons on an international scale are of “questionable value” due to varying methods of reporting by different nations. However, it reports that in Europe suicide rates consistently are high in Austria, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, East Germany, Finland, Hungary and Sweden.
◆ It is reported that some 100 million residents of the United States wear dentures of some sort. Half of these dentures are made of porcelain, the other half of plastic. The plastic type are “nonradiating,” writes Patrick Ryan in Smithsonian magazine, “but the porcelains have to be laced with minute traces of uranium to simulate the fluorescence of natural teeth.” If this was not done, the porcelain dentures would appear black, brown or green under various artificial lights. But Ryan comments: “The degree of beta radiation emitted from the porcelain, I hasten to add, is quite harmless to the wearer and may, in any case, soon be further reduced under new FDA [Food and Drug Administration] recommendations.”
◆ During the three-month period ending in mid-December 1976, about 270,000 Japanese marriages were expected to take place. Almost one fifth of the couples were planning to spend their honeymoons abroad. Some 55 percent were headed for Hawaii. For the previous year, only 10 percent of the autumn honeymoons were taken abroad. Greater affluence and the business recovery in Japan are said to be behind the upsurge in autumn honeymoons outside the country.
◆ One out of five gasoline stations in West Germany is a self-service establishment. Reportedly, however, they sell over half the gasoline. And the popularity of these stations is growing there, just as it is in the United States.
◆ Theft, or what might be called “unauthorized borrowing,” of books from libraries in the United States is costing the nation’s taxpayers over a quarter of a billion dollars yearly, according to a published estimate. For instance, each year materials worth $13.5 million are stolen from New York City public libraries, and these losses include 880,000 books. Annual loss is over $1 million in Los Angeles, California. As another example, a “conservative estimate” is that 600 books are lost yearly at the East campus library of the Lake Forest, Illinois, high school, the losses reportedly being “about the same” on the West campus. Guards have been hired by some libraries, whereas others have installed detection systems that trigger alarms when a publication containing sensitized material has not been “desensitized” during check-out but is taken through an exit that is electronically scanned.
Australians and Religion
◆ About three out of four Australians believe in God as the Creator and Ruler of the universe. A Gallup poll involving 2,004 persons 16 years of age and over revealed that 76 percent held such views. Seventy-two percent believed that Jesus Christ is mankind’s Savior. However, few attend church often. Aside from weddings and similar special events, half the populace had not been to church in over a year.
End of the Orient Express?
◆ In May 1977, the famed Orient Express will end its Paris-to-Istanbul run. It began operating in 1883 and rose to prominence not long after the turn of the century. A conference of twenty-six European rail companies decided to leave the Orient Express off the international 1977-78 railway schedule. However, new express trains will be introduced. One will be the Moscow-to-Belgrade Pushkin Express. The other will run from northern Europe to Mediterranean port cities. But regarding the Orient Express itself, Parade magazine says: “It’s started up again—only not from Paris. The train will be made up in Zurich by Swiss state railways and will run from Zurich to Istanbul in five days.” The cost of the one-way train trip and a return by jet plane was given as about $700.
Working Soviet Women
◆ In Russia the workload increasingly is being shared by women. They now constitute approximately 52 percent of the workers on collective farms. In factories they make up 48 percent of the work force. According to other statistics cited by the Associated Press, “women continue to run Soviet homes and raise children, adding another four to five hours to each workday.”
Threat to the Elephant
◆ The Hong Kong Department of Statistics has reported that during 1975 over 500,000 kilograms (1,100,000 pounds) of ivory from Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zaïre passed through Hong Kong. This points to the slaughter of no fewer than 20,000 elephants. Within the first six months of 1976, over 350,000 kilograms (770,000 pounds) of ivory came into the hands of dealers in Hong Kong. That indicates a 30-percent increase and means that 14,000 elephants were killed in just a half year. Conservationists are fearful that so much ivory is being taken that extinction of the elephant is possible in Central and East Africa.
◆ Though the list of endangered species is quite long, three wild animals definitely are not on it. And they seem to prefer life in close proximity to man. The three are the armadillo, the coyote and the raccoon. “There are, supposedly, more coyotes running loose in the streets of Los Angeles than there are dogs,” says Sports Illustrated. Also, there are said to be “more raccoons per acre” in Memphis, Tennessee, “than there are in any forestland in the South. Also, armadillos reportedly “are found in relative abundance on the outskirts of towns and cities in many parts of the Sunbelt” of the United States.
Jordan Drying Up?
◆ Menahem Kantor of the National Water Commission in Israel has estimated that the Jordan River now “is only a third or a quarter the size it was 10 years ago.” On an increasing scale, there has been damming of its tributaries and use of the water for agricultural purposes. “About 10 or 15 small tributaries have been dammed up so far,” Kantor said. Half of the Jordan’s water comes from the Yarmuk River, on which the Jordanians now plan to build a new dam. “I don’t think the Jordan will ever completely dry up,” remarked Kantor. “But in another 10 years, during the dry seasons it could be reduced to a mere trickle.” Pollution also threatens the Jordan because increasing amounts of sewage are being produced by the town of Tiberias and nitrate fertilizers are getting into the river’s principal reservoir, Lake Tiberias (the Sea of Galilee).
Alcoholic Brain Damage
◆ Two studies undertaken at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois, revealed that brain tissue destruction is prevalent among persons who are chronic alcoholics. The two groups of patients studied ranged in age from 31 to 69 and 34 to 74. The Medical Center reported that both groups manifested “brain atrophy, a possible irreversible loss of brain tissue often associated with old age.”