Watching the World
“U.S. Catholic” Comments
◆ A recent article about Jehovah’s Witnesses in U.S. Catholic magazine cites reasons why “a large percentage of Witnesses have come from Roman Catholic backgrounds.” Among other things, it notes that “some people seem especially vulnerable to the use of Bible passages to support doctrinal positions.” It says a “confident Witness citing Biblical chapter and verse . . . holds most of the cards in dealing with a person whose religious education since grade school has consisted of a series of badly prepared and delivered ten-minute Sunday homilies.”
Why are the Witnesses “confident” in using the Bible? The magazine admits: “Any kingdom hall offers more adult education in a month than most Catholic parishes do all year. Prospective converts see a Witness with no more education than themselves expounding the Bible, preaching, finding fellowship in the congregation, claiming ministerial status, and carrying heavy responsibilities in the kingdom hall. [The Catholics’] own parishes may offer no model for this measure of dedication.”
Pluto No Longer Ninth
◆ In late January, the place of planet Pluto as ninth and last in our solar system was taken over by the former eighth planet. For the next 20 years, Neptune will be farthest from the sun. This is because the 248-year orbit of Pluto is not circular; thus it falls inside the orbit of Neptune for 20 years each time around the sun. In mid-March 1999, Pluto will resume its role as the ninth planet.
Swedish War-Toy Ban
◆ After December 1, 1979, Swedish children will find it harder to play war games. Parliament and toymakers have agreed by common consent to ban the sale of toy soldiers and pistols after that date, on the grounds that they are too warlike. Some Swedish doctors and psychiatrists disagree, declaring that the little tots should have the means to work out their aggressive instincts in mock battles.
Club of Rome Update
◆ Over 10 years ago, the now-famous “Club of Rome” group warned of developing world crises in resources and population. Recently its president, Aurelio Peccei, was asked how his international group of intellectuals view mankind’s situation now. “The world’s situation has deteriorated on all fronts,” he told a reporter for the Paris business magazine Vision. “There have of course been techno-scientific improvements, but they have been unsystematic, uncoordinated, and many of them have caused other problems . . . So altogether man is more confused today, more worried and less secure, than ten years ago.” About the future, he said: “We issued a warning ten years ago, but looking back we feel it was so easy to do something then, and so difficult now. However, doing something now is much more necessary. We think that mankind has perhaps only ten years or less to choose a course different from the present one, which is bound to end in disaster.”
Martian Caps Differ
◆ Latest information from America’s Mariner space probes indicate that Mars’ polar ice caps “come in two flavors,” reports the New York Times. The north polar cap had been found to be mostly water ice during the summer when its covering of frozen carbon dioxide (dry ice) boils off. However, new evidence indicates that the south pole is covered only with dry ice. Scientists speculate that the slightly milder winters of the northern cap account for the difference.
New Cancer Fighter?
◆ Sprouts of wheat, mung beans and lentils are being considered by the Texas System Cancer Center as a possible protection against chemically induced cancer. Extracts from the sprouts were reported to reduce the potency of certain chemicals that are known to be factors in producing cancer. However, according to the findings, only those carcinogens that are activated by body enzymes are effectively inhibited by the extracts from the sprouts.
◆ The Heidelberg Cancer Research Center recently found that 111 of 158 European brands of beer contain nitrosamines, which have been found to cause cancer in experimental animals. In the Federal Republic of Germany, where each person consumes an average of 39 gallons (148 liters) of beer annually, this was disheartening news. And in Bavaria, where annual consumption—55 gallons (208 liters)—is the greatest in the world, some considered the news a disaster. “Were it true,” said a Munich restaurateur, “Bavaria would cease to exist.” Brewers are working on getting rid of the offending substances.
◆ A Japanese veterinarian claims that he is using acupuncture to cure livestock of a variety of ailments. He asserts that among other things the four electrified needles that he uses help to reduce bleeding and neutralize pain in cows after stomach operations. According to the veterinarian, livestock owners pay 5,000 to 10,000 yen ($25, U.S. to $50, U.S.) less for the acupuncture treatment than for drug therapy.
TM—Religious or Secular?
◆ One doctor who formerly practiced transcendental meditation (TM) disagreed with suggestions that the government support the use of TM in health-care programs. Why? In a letter published in the American Medical News, he wrote: “I can assure you that there is enough religious ritual involved with this practice that it should be excluded on the basis of separation of church and state. I am opposed to this, not only for this reason, but because it absolutely is not effective.”
◆ The Soviet newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda recently reported a near disaster for 2,840 Russian fishermen. Ignoring posted warnings, the men were fishing through ice near Russky Island, south of Vladivostok, when the section they were on broke loose and began drifting out to sea. Helicopters and a ship rescued more than 1,200 fishermen before dark, but the rest had to remain on the ice floe overnight. The last of the men were rescued just before the ice broke up on the open sea. Unusually warm weather was responsible for the treacherous ice.