Watching the World
Known for Neutrality
◆ Officials of Lake County, Illinois, have had a problem obtaining locations for their voting booths. The county clerk wants legislation forcing churches and other tax-exempt locations to allow such use of their premises, since many of these have been reluctant. “I can understand if the Jehovah’s Witnesses said we couldn’t use their church,” she said. “I know for a fact that they don’t mix politics with religion. . . . That’s not the point with these other churches.”—The News-Sun, September 29, 1978.
◆ For many years U.S. auto manufacturers have worried over the inroads of low-priced imports on sales of their large “gas guzzlers.” Now the tables have been turned. American autos have become the low-priced imports in countries where the American dollar has fallen greatly in value. “I can offer American cars that are almost 15,000 marks ($8,000, U.S.) cheaper than their comparable European models,” said a Munich auto dealer. And that city’s Abendzeitung newspaper says: “Now it’s ‘in’ to drive an American sleigh.” In the Federal Republic of Germany, one U.S. auto maker’s 1978 sales increased 287 percent over 1977.
“Satan’s Atomic Bomb”?
◆ The new drug fad is PCP, called “Angel Dust” by users. But law enforcement and drug officials are calling it “Satan’s atomic bomb” and a “demonic new dimension” in drugs. People on the drug will “march into the muzzle of a policeman’s gun or a burning house or jump off a skyscraper believing they can fly,” says a Los Angeles narcotics squad officer. “It took eight officers to subdue a 14-year-old girl under the influence . . . normal-sized men in the throes of a PCP trip broke their steel handcuffs.” To the Point International tells a number of “horror stories”: A user, who was calm in a hospital for several hours, suddenly jumped up and bit off a girl’s nose; a mother dipped her baby in steaming water; a youth shot his parents as they watched TV; another tried to rape his own mother.
Swimming Pool During Pregnancy?
◆ Pregnant women should engage in light swimming exercise to ease delivery and eliminate the fatigue they often experience, according to Japanese obstetrician Hajime Murooka. He investigated the matter after noting that women divers had easy deliveries. Murooka had 50 pregnant women take 45-minute swimming lessons three times a week. After monitoring the mothers and fetuses, it was found that the exercise had not harmed them in any way, and most of the women went on to have almost painless deliveries when giving birth.
Reaction to Argentine Repression
◆ The U.S. White House has been feeling public response to Argentina’s actions against Jehovah’s Witnesses. In a recent week, “letters on inflation rated seventh,” says U.S. News & World Report, “outstripped by mail on such topics as private-school tax status, treatment of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Argentina and aid to Nicaragua.”
◆ Many have been led to believe that Tokyo is the world’s safest big city. However, a Tokyo University researcher says that this is not necessarily true. He claims that a random survey of Tokyo residents indicates an average of 37 times more crimes than are recorded in police statistics. “There are times when policemen are too busy to keep reported cases on record,” he said. The survey indicated 54 times more assault and battery cases, 31 times more bicycle thefts and 23.7 times more shoplifting than shown by police records.
Kicking the Habit
◆ Is gradually reducing the number of cigarettes that a person smokes the right way to stop smoking? “Contrary to much popular belief,” answers Science News, “[University of California] researchers report that gradual withdrawal—cutting down on consumption by half or more—may actually ‘prolong their [the smokers’] agony by intermittently reinforcing their symptoms and smoking behavior. Typically, this chronic state of withdrawal will lead to relapse . . . craving leads to smoking and smoking leads to craving in a cycle of dependence.’”
◆ Malaria kills about a million Africans each year, and infects 200 million people world wide. Now, a University of Hawaii medical researcher, Dr. Wassim A. Siddiqui, claims 100-percent success in immunizing monkeys with a malaria vaccine that he prepared. He is awaiting the go-ahead to begin trials with humans. However, there will be no quick results, as such trials normally take two to three years, if successful, before the product can be distributed.
Door-to-Door Distribution Upheld
◆ The Attorney General of Michigan, on September 25, 1978, ruled that state and municipal authorities must respect the constitutional right of citizens to engage in door-to-door solicitation and distribution of handbills and religious tracts, since this is a right guaranteed by the federal and state constitutions. The authorities may not exact a tax or require a permit to exercise this right.
Stealing as a Family
◆ “Whole families are now going out and stealing together,” according to Scotland Yard inspector Joyce Crooks. She told a London conference on shoplifting that the trend is growing. Parents have their children do the “dirty work,” while they oversee from a safe distance. Children under 10 are too young to be prosecuted. “This is how it can work,” she said. “Mother, father, grandmother and grandfather go with the children on a Saturday to a supermarket. Mother and father fill a trolley [shopping cart] which the children wheel ‘innocently’ past the checkout to a car where the grandparents are waiting.”
China Against Smoking
◆ For centuries the Chinese have been among the world’s heaviest smokers, leading the world in tobacco production and consumption. But now the Peking government has launched a massive campaign against smoking. It is aimed particularly at the younger generation, since officials recognize the difficulty of getting the older generation to abandon the habit. Two of China’s most distinguished physicians are spearheading the anti-smoking campaign.
◆ Every day, on the average, about 50 children in Italy poison themselves with pills and medicines left lying carelessly on shelves. Many of them die. United Press International reports that “most Italian houses are bulging with old pills” because few throw away unwanted drugs. More money is spent on pills in Italy than in any other country except the United States, Japan and West Germany.
◆ How does aircraft noise affect those living near large airports? University of California researchers reviewed death and disease statistics for a community two to three miles (3 to 5 kilometers) from Los Angeles International Airport. Compared with a similar neighborhood eight to nine miles (13 to 14 kilometers) away, the death rate from all causes was one fifth higher in the community nearer the airport. “Most striking,” says the report in Newsweek, “was the finding that cases of cirrhosis of the liver due to drinking were 140 per cent higher among those” near the airport.
TV Commercials and Children
◆ Since children between two and 11 years of age may view as many as 22,000 TV commercials a year, they have become a potent tool in the hands of advertisers to influence parents’ purchases. However, Stanford University researchers have found that a little instruction can promote healthy skepticism even in the very young. “We feel confident it is possible to teach children to become more critical of commercial appeals by showing them how commercials attempt to persuade,” said a spokesman for the researchers. Children who viewed films that exposed deceptive advertising techniques were found to be much more skeptical afterward than a similar group of children who did not see the films.
This Is Religion?
◆ In an effort to shore up rapidly declining membership, a Long Island, New York, synagogue has voted to drop its usual $300 (U.S.) annual dues for new members. “We’ve got to have younger blood or we’ll be all washed out,” said congregation president Bernard Green. Another official feared that, without new members, the synagogue would be forced to close or to merge with another. Newsday reports: “With more people, he said, services and adult education courses would be more enjoyable and more hands would be available to help in the money-making weekly bingo games.”
Reducing Traffic Deaths
◆ U.S. Transportation Secretary Brock Adams recently reported the results of studies on the use of seat belts and air bags for accident protection. He said the fatality rate for autos equipped with automatic safety belts (not requiring driver to buckle) was just one third, and those with air bags one half, of the rate for cars with standard safety belts, which are often not used. He estimated that 9,000 lives would be saved and many thousands of injuries would be avoided by using these so-called “passive restraints” that do not require operator assistance.
◆ In Warsaw a Polish scientist stated that consumption of alcohol has gone up to such an extent everywhere that it may become more dangerous to mankind than the atomic bomb. Mikolai Tolkan told an international congress on alcoholism that this alcohol “bomb is already ticking away and few people notice it.” He said that alcohol consumption in Poland went up 35 percent in five years. Three million Poles, out of a population of 35,000,000, were said to drink too much every day. The largest five-year increase in alcohol consumption was reported to be in the Netherlands—60 percent. In Montreal, La Presse noted huge increases in alcohol use in Canada, adding: “We drink more and more.”
◆ The world’s largest nature reserve has been set aside in Namibia (South-West Africa). The area is about 2,280,000 hectares (about 5,630,000 acres), almost twice the size of America’s Yellowstone National Park. To keep the area as unspoiled as possible, no large-scale tourist camps will be allowed. The reserve includes a fish and bird sanctuary on its western ocean boundary, with mountains, ravines, lush vegetation, waterfalls and deserts inland. The animal population, including mountain zebras, ostriches, leopards, cheetahs, springboks and others, is expected to increase quickly now that they are protected.
For TV-viewing Safety
◆ In a booklet entitled “Consumer Guide to Television Safety,” the Electronic Industries Association (in the United States) provides some TV safety hints. For instance, avoid placing a portable set on a rug, bed or sofa, for this would cover the bottom ventilation openings. Also, do not place sets over heat registers and radiators. Such precautions will help to prevent TV-related fires.
Shopping Malls Popular
◆ There are about 19,000 shopping malls and plazas in the United States. Since the late 1960’s a prominent feature has been enclosed malls where climate can be controlled. There are now more than 1,000 of these. Suburban malls have increased because of the movement of population away from cities. The idea of the shopping mall has spread to some 30 countries, with the Soviet Union planning a “supermall” near Moscow in time for the 1980 summer Olympics.