Watching the World
◆ War on Want, a British agency, reports that the sale of cigarettes is booming in developing lands. Sales are said to be growing by 5 percent yearly in these countries. The agency’s report, “Tobacco and the Third World: Tomorrow’s Epidemic,” also says that cancer and other smoking-related diseases will be the next epidemic to present a threat to Third World lands. Heightening the seriousness of matters is the fact that certain cigarettes being marketed in such countries “yield twice the amount of cancer-causing tar as the same brands sold in Europe and the U.S.,” reports the magazine To the Point International.
◆ Recently, the former Air Force pilot who served as target-spotter for the United States plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, on August 6, 1945, died at a veterans hospital in Houston, Texas. The Associated Press reported: “He was discharged from the service in 1947 after numerous psychiatric tests indicated a ‘severe neurosis and guilt complex.’ Doctors said he told them he felt responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Japanese at Hiroshima.” After the burial, the brother of the deceased man was quoted as saying: “He said his brain was on fire. He said he could feel those people burning.”
◆ According to the Mobil Oil Corporation, trips of 10 miles (16 kilometers) or less account for almost half the gasoline used in the United States. Mobil also points out that if you cut your driving speed from 70 to 50 miles (112.6 to 80.5 kilometers) an hour, your automobile will average 25 percent more mileage per gallon (3.8 liters).
◆ The position of Russian clergymen toward war and the Soviet system was cited by Pavel Kurochkin, director of the Institute of Scientific Atheism, during a recent interview published in the July 1978 issue of the journal Soviet Life. Kurochkin was quoted as saying that during the second world war (1941-1945) “the majority of clergymen and church officers proved to be patriots.” He also stated: “The congregations of the Russian Orthodox Church collected funds to form the Dmitri Donskoi tank unit and the Alexander Nevsky air squadron. Both the muftis and rabbis prayed for the Red Army.” Regarding the Church-State relationship in the U.S.S.R., Kurochkin said: “The Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church held in 1971 to elect the present Patriarch, Pimen (Izvekov), declared that the church shall render political support to the Soviet state and social system. The council expressed satisfaction with the existing legislation on religion and the relations between the church and the state.”
◆ Since the British and French supersonic transport known as the Concorde began commercial flights across the Atlantic in January 1976, some passengers have become virtual “commuters.” Forty-three percent of the customers using the Concorde on British Airways have flown in the plane more than one time. “Five have each made more than 50 trips,” reports the journal To the Point International, adding: “The record is held by an American who has made 63 flights.”
◆ In Japan the death rate for stomach cancer is 46.6 persons per 100,000, compared with 7.2 in the United States. Nitrates in foods have been linked with the high figure among the Japanese. On the other hand, in Japan the death rate for cancer of the intestine is 4.8 per 100,000, whereas it is 18.3 in the U.S. Also, while breast cancer is only 5.4 per 100,000 in Japan, the U.S. figure is 29.6. So reports Newsweek magazine, listing data furnished by the World Health Organization.
Found: A Moon of Pluto
◆ According to a United Press International dispatch from Washington, D.C., astronomers of the Naval Observatory recently announced the discovery of the first known moon of the planet Pluto. The satellite was discovered by James Christy while studying photographic plates of the planet that were made with the telescope at the observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona. In comparing plates made during April and May 1978 with photos taken in 1965 and 1970, Christy noted an elongated blur that had changed positions. This turned out to be the previously undiscovered moon. Pluto is the farthest planet from the sun, and the newfound moon is reported to be 12,000 miles (19,000 kilometers) from the planet.
Rise in Crime
◆ The results of a 66-nation study covering 1970 to 1975 reveal that there was a great increase in crime throughout the world during that period. These were the recently reported findings of Viennese researchers who have been making preparations for the United Nations Crime Prevention Conference to be held at Sydney, Australia, in 1980. The experts found that the drug crime rate had risen 114 percent from 1970 to 1975, compared with an increase of 179 percent in cases of theft during those years.
◆ Possibly the world’s tiniest frogs have been discovered in a jungle at Western Australia’s northern tip. Although the adults are only a half inch (1.27 centimeters) long, they are able to jump as much as 100 times their body length. Reportedly, the frogs make a distinctive croaking sound.
◆ The transplantation of hair to cope with baldness has become “the most common cosmetic operation for men,” reports Modern Medicine. But the clinical journal states that for a second time this procedure has resulted in what is known as arteriovenous fistula. Citing one case, the publication says that a year and a half after transplant treatments had been completed, “a 34-year-old man complained of buzzing in his right ear, throbbing and swelling above the ear at the site from which the last graft was taken, and blurring of vision in his right eye.” However, all these conditions vanished after the fistula was removed.
On Becoming Silent
◆ When a television station in Florence, Italy, presented an exercise program featuring a woman instructor unclad from the waist up, the monks at a local monastery protested, charging: “You are sending Satan directly into the home.” But the monks became silent when the accused station cited the pornographic presentation of its competitor. “The manager of [that competing channel], it turned out, was a Catholic friar,” reports TV Guide.
◆ How many species of plants are there in Alaska, Canada, the continental United States and Greenland? A checklist published by Stanwyn Shetler and Laurence Skog contains 16,274 species. But “reports of additional plant types are already being sent in by botanists,” says Science News.
◆ The White House Council on Wage and Price Stability recently reported that in the United States doctors’ fees have gone up 273 percent since 1950. Whereas U.S. residents paid $2.7 billion for the services of doctors in 1950, this outlay is expected to be $35 billion during 1978. Reportedly, 60 percent of this increase has resulted from higher fees alone. Medical doctors in the U.S. “earn four times more than other professional groups as a result of fee hikes,” reports Parade magazine.
◆ According to a recent study by the Union of German Doctors, for reduced stress, workers would be better off with two yearly vacations than they would with a shorter workweek. “The study suggested that unions negotiate for a second vacation rather than a shorter week,” reports the Associated Press, “since the worker is expected to accomplish the same amount of work in a shorter period of time.”
India’s Growing Population
◆ Today the population of India is estimated at about 634.2 million. According to the most recent census (in 1971), it was 548 million. Hence, the country’s population has been rising about 13 million yearly. If that rate were to continue, India’s populace would number 799 million by 1991.
◆ In the United States, the average citizen works 124 days a year in order to pay his municipal, state and federal taxes. So reports the Tax Foundation.
Cement Raises Sugar Yield
◆ The Australian Bureau of Sugar has found that sugarcane yields improved by almost one half in Queensland when some portland cement was plowed into acid soil a month before the crop was planted. Iron and magnesium in the cement are thought to be responsible for the greater yield. “In one test,” reports the British journal New Scientist, “four tonnes of cement applied per hectare [4.4 tons per 2.5 acres] increased yields by 44 per cent while a 33 per cent increase was shown by 2-1/2 tonnes [2.8 tons].”
When Pets Meet
◆ Two very different pets—a black cat and a white rabbit—recently caused some unusual trouble at Eagan, Minnesota, U.S.A. The rabbit’s owner claimed that her neighbor’s cat scared her pet to death. She contacted the animal warden. The cat soon was picked up by the police, and it was shot about three hours later at their firing range. At that, the owner sued the police because there was a local ordinance providing that animals be held for five days before disposing of them. The court awarded the owner $40 for his pet and $5,000 in the way of punitive damages.
◆ Forty thousand Arab householders are now said to live in London, England, and its suburbs. According to Parade magazine, their numbers are sufficient for an Arabic newspaper there, as well as signs in both that language and English.
Wine Kills Fish
◆ The action of an angry worker of a French wine producer recently resulted in the death of thousands of fish. When the employee poured some $600,000 (U.S.) worth of Burgundy into the sewers of Nuits Saint Georges, France, the wine ultimately flowed into the Meuzin River. As a result, its waters became so polluted that fish were killed by the thousands.
◆ A recent study by the Consumer Product Safety Commission in the United States has revealed that the majority of serious swimming-pool injuries occur in home or apartment pools, or those at motels and hotels. It was found that depth markings often were lacking, and that many injuries occurred when individuals dived into water under four feet (1.2 meters) deep.
No Charge for Air
◆ An Indiana company has marketed a device enabling gasoline station operators to charge persons 25c for using an air hose to inflate a tire. But apparently there will be no charge for air at the 500 stations in Hempstead, New York, for the town board unanimously voted against it.
◆ The Center for Science in the Public Interest has reported that United States residents are eating less candy and butter, but are using more refined sugar and fat than they did in the past. Also, whereas the average U.S. citizen ate 403 eggs in the year 1945, the number was down to 276 in 1976.