Watching the World
International Conventions Begin
◆ The 1978 series of 114 “Victorious Faith” International Conventions of Jehovah’s Witnesses commenced in mid-June at four locations in the United States. A total of over 155,000 were present in Dallas, Milwaukee, New Orleans and Washington, D.C., to hear the powerful public address “Jesus Christ—Victorious King with Whom Nations Must Reckon.” Mayor Walter Washington of the U.S. capital city was visited by convention officials during special Friday morning preaching activity. The mayor expressed appreciation for the fine conduct of the Witnesses at the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, and later visited the stadium himself on Sunday, noting how clean it was, as well as the presence of united family groups. He commented that other religious organizations would do well to follow this fine example. In taking note of the two assemblies in New Orleans the mayor of that city, Earnest Morial, proclaimed “June 1978 to be Watchtower Bible and Tract Society [month] in New Orleans.”
Trends in Thrift
◆ Latest reports reveal that people in the United States are spending more of their income and saving less money than people in other industrial countries. The savings rate as a percentage of after-tax income for the United States has gone down from 7.5 percent in 1967 to 5.1 percent in 1977. Canada’s savings rate has jumped to 9.8 percent from 6.2 percent 11 years ago. This rise is believed to be due to governmental efforts to induce thrift among the population. Other savings rates are: England, 13.9 percent; the Federal Republic of Germany, 14 percent; France, 16.1 percent; and Japan, 21.5 percent. “It is impossible to know whether the propensity to save will continue to decline in America, or keep expanding abroad,” commented The Wall Street Journal. “Inevitably, much will depend on the extent to which governmental policies tend to encourage or discourage saving.”
Heart Attacks and Women Smokers
◆ A new study indicates that women over 50 years of age who smoke heavily increase by 20 times their risk of having a heart attack. The study, made at Boston University Medical School, was reported in the New England Journal of Medicine. It suggested that 75 percent of the heart attacks among otherwise healthy women were caused by smoking. Since the number of teen-age girls who smoke has doubled in the past 10 years, the doctors’ report noted: “Unless this pattern changes, the contribution of cigaret smoking to the occurrence of premature myocardial infarction [heart attacks] in otherwise apparently healthy women will probably increase.”
Prescription for the Family
◆ The Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, Helmut Schmidt, believes that Germans are spending too much time watching television, to the detriment of the family. Now he is urging families to turn off the set for one day a week and to talk. “We don’t talk to each other enough, neither married couples, nor parents with their children, nor friends among themselves,” he recently explained. “We have become more and more speechless, and that frightens me.”
Detoxifying Narcotics Addicts
◆ “Without exception, we have been able to take [patients] through detoxification without withdrawal pains,” said Dr. Alfred Libby of the Narcotics Rehabilitation Hospital in Riverside, California, at a news conference. Dr. Libby treats his patients with massive doses of sodium ascorbate, a form of vitamin C that is sold by prescription only. Narcotics addicts, he said, besides suffering from a protein deficiency, lack vitamin C. The doctor states that he can “clean” a heroin addict in seven days, but it requires 10 to 14 days to treat a person who is on methadone.
Higher Education in “Third World”
◆ In developing countries, doctors are needed more than lawyers. Yet poor countries generally have more law students than they do medical students, reports England’s New Scientist magazine. One African country has three law students to every medical student. Canada, by contrast, has almost three times as many students of medicine as of law. Why so much emphasis on law in developing lands? “Law is clearly preferred in the Third World,” comments New Scientist, “because of its higher status and possibilities as a route to political power.”
◆ Dr. Hasib Tanyol, a Philadelphia physician, recently made a survey of 298 college and professional football players with regard to their blood pressure. He found that 26 percent suffered from high blood pressure. This incidence among the football players, he indicated, was more than twice as great as that among the general population. Reported The Express of Easton, Pennsylvania: “The results of his survey, he feels, should force a sweeping re-examination of the health value of not only football, but some other sports as well.”
Legalizing Abortion in Israel
◆ Israel’s Knesset (Parliament) has passed a law to legalize abortion. The new law goes into effect a year after its publication. It permits abortion for women under 16 or over 40; if the pregnancy resulted from illicit sexual activity; if the child would be born handicapped; if the mother’s emotional or physical health would be endangered or if the birth would lead to serious economic hardship. Orthodox Jews had vigorously opposed the law, arguing that under Jewish law abortion is homicide and should be allowed only when the mother’s life is in danger. In effect, the new law will give legality to a common practice in Israel. One recent study disclosed that 46.7 percent of Israeli women have had at least one abortion by the age of 40.
Traffic Death Toll
◆ For the first time in 19 years Japan’s annual traffic deaths were fewer than 9,000. Last year’s figure of 8,945 was a sharp drop from the 1970 record of 16,765 deaths. This decrease was attributed largely to Japan’s very strict traffic laws and the enforcement of them. The United States reported that 46,880 persons died in highway accidents in 1977. This was almost a 4-percent increase, and the largest increase in five years.
‘Priesthood in Low Esteem’
◆ France’s Le Monde has published an analysis of the priesthood in that country, written by Henri Fesquet, who is regarded as one of France’s most astute and respected religious commentators. “Never before has the priest’s job been held in such low esteem,” reports this commentator. “Once revered and privileged, it is currently relegated to a limbo not so much of disdain as of indifference.” He adds that “the priest is now suspected of being a useless and archaic leftover” and that “today few French citizens enter a church unless for a christening, a marriage or a funeral.”
‘Close to Infant Baptism’
◆ The practice of some Southern Baptist churches to baptize very young children has come under fire. Richard D. Patton, chairman of the Southern Baptist Historical Commission, has declared that baptizing young children seems to “put us perilously close to the practice of infant baptism.” He indicated that 10 percent of the baptisms during 1976 were of children under the age of eight.
Potent Bacteria Destroyers
◆ Certain tiny ocean creatures kill bacteria more effectively than does any other animal known to man. Scientists have discovered that the common wood borers, sometimes called gribbles, produce a substance that kills all microorganisms contained in their woody food. Until now, scientists thought that all animals had some bacteria in their digestive tracts; but these tiny crustaceans have none at all. Based on this discovery, scientists see the possibility of producing a new kind of potent, disease-fighting drug.
◆ According to a study released by the United States Labor Department, one out of every 12 American workers is a part-time employee. More and more businesses are now hiring permanent part-time employees. Why? They find that these workers are not as expensive as full-time employees and often are more productive and reliable.
The Color of Your Sunglasses
◆ The color of sunglasses is an important factor in the protection, or lack of it, that these furnish against ultraviolet and infrared radiation. Sunglasses that are tinted gray are believed to give the highest protection. Almost as good are those tinted brown or green. But sunglasses tinted blue or purple can be dangerous. Said Science Digest: “Blue or purple sunglasses can expose you to more ultraviolet radiation than no sunglasses at all! That happens because a dark lens causes your pupils to dilate, which means blue or purple sunglasses inflict ultraviolet on your eyes after ‘tricking’ them into lowering their defenses against sunlight.”
◆ A report from the Austrian health ministry reveals that Austrians are eating too much, to the point that about half the population is regarded as being overweight. About 50 percent of the women over 30 years of age and 40 percent of the men over 45 were overweight, said the report. The health ministry also pointed out that the problem of overweight can start very early—in the first three months of life, when fat cells are being formed. Often, it was found, babies that are not breast-fed are given too much food.
Grocery Bill for a Zoo
◆ The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., has at least 2,600 mouths to feed. As a result, last year’s grocery bill came to $250,000 (U.S.). The year’s menu requires, among other things, 50,000 pounds (22,680 kilograms) of meat, 3,120 pounds (1,415 kilograms) of potatoes and 230 tons (208 metric tons) of hay, 330 tons (300 metric tons) of grain and 520 bushels (18 cubic meters) of carrots. Special delicacies are 96,000 rats and mice, 114,400 crickets and 180,000 maggots.
Sweets an Occupational Hazard
◆ In Japan, eight workers at a confectionery company filed an application to have their tooth decay designated an occupational disease. Why? They said that their decayed teeth were the result of constantly having to taste samples of sweets that they are making. After studying the application filed with the Labor Ministry, Hokkaido Labor Standards Bureau and Hokkaido University’s Dental Department, the Sapporo Labor Standards Inspection Office granted the request. Now treatment for the many decayed teeth will be covered by their workmen’s accident compensation insurance.
Youth and the Churches
◆ The recent Gallup Youth Survey revealed that more and more American teen-agers are “turned off” by Christendom’s churches. Only 25 percent of the youths polled expressed high confidence in organized religion. Many were the comments, such as: “Bingo, bazaars, and bad sermons—that’s what church is all about,” and churchgoers are “spiritually shallow.” Many commented on the hypocrisy of churches and churchgoers and the fact that churches do not teach about God or the Bible. However, the majority of the youths—95 percent—said that they believe in God.
Marriage Good for Men
◆ Married men have lower mortality rates for many of the more common causes of death, such as heart disease. Research at the University of Western Ontario, Canada, reveals that this also seems to be true in connection with deaths from peptic ulcers. Fewer married men, proportionately, are affected, compared to single men. England’s New Scientist comments: “It looks as if marriage will not damage your health.”