Watching the World
◆ A financial service in Johannesburg, South Africa, issued its general outlook for 1979 and stated the following: “The days of long range, rational decision making are gone and there is no ‘long term’ any more. The distortions and vulnerabilities built into the financial system are such that there is no normal business or stock market cycle any more. The entire system is now so volatile that it generates its own shocks on a random basis, like political instability, interference in the economy, wars, strikes and so on. The world is a very fragile and unstable place and in fact is in its greatest ever political and economic turmoil. There is very weak leadership, and governments prove powerless to cope with increasing serious problems that continue to unfold. It follows that in such a world as we have, there cannot be stability in the international financial system.”
Crib Death Help
◆ A major cause of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (crib death) is sleep apnea, the occasional halt in breathing that occurs among many babies. This usually lasts less than 15 seconds and causes no harm. But if the infant cannot start breathing again, someone must be able to provide help or the child will die. In the United States, crib death is the single largest killer of children between the ages of two weeks and one year, claiming about 10,000 apparently healthy babies annually. To help to combat this condition, Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston has a system that can monitor the sleep of children in their homes. An electrode belt is placed around the chest of the infant, and the device is attached to a monitor that will sound an alarm to signal the parents should the child’s breathing stop. “We have had no deaths in the past two years,” says Dr. Daniel Shannon regarding monitored children. A major problem is determining which babies should be attached to monitors. At present many of those being monitored are infants who were previously revived after breathing had stopped. Dr. Shannon cautions: “In no way is this a cure. It’s only a way of supporting selected infants with prolonged apnea that might cause sudden death.”
Religion in the U.S.S.R.
◆ The magazine Soviet Life contrasted religion in the U.S.S.R. today with the situation in pre-Communist Russia. In 1914 Russia’s population was overwhelmingly religious, having over 77,000 functioning Orthodox churches and chapels, 1,000 monasteries, 117,000 priests, and 95,000 monks and lay brothers. Today, after more than 60 years of Communist rule, those numbers have been reduced to only a fraction. According to Soviet Life, “Believers today make up 15 to 20 per cent of the country’s adult population,” mostly older persons. Because atheism is taught in all schools, the percentage of young people who believe in God is said to be very small. For example, the magazine asserts that in Leningrad, of 1,619 school-children responding anonymously to questionnaires, only 24 said that they believed in God. Of 1,530 students at the Leningrad Electro-Technical Institute and other higher schools in that city, only 18 said that they were believers.
TM Banned in School
◆ A United States appeals court has decided that a transcendental-meditation course taught in several New Jersey public high schools is unconstitutional. The three-judge panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals thus upheld a 1976 ruling by a U.S. district court in New Jersey. The appeals court said that the school course was indeed a religious activity, and, hence, violated the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which requires the separation of church and state. The course included a special ceremony at which the students were given a personal mantra, or chant, to recite.
Radioactive Dating Questioned
◆ One method that scientists have used to estimate the age of the earth is by means of elements that decay radioactively. By measuring the current rate of that decay, and projecting the result backwards, an age for earth’s rocks is postulated. But such techniques assume that the rate of radioactive decay was the same in the past as it is now. However, the publication Industrial Research/Development notes that some scientists are questioning whether this conclusion is valid. They feel that the likelihood of past sudden changes in environmental conditions related to radioactivity could drastically alter the apparent age of the elements. Such could, as the publication observed, “have the effect of reducing the half-life of uranium from 4.5 billion [years] to barely more than one second!” The idea that ‘we can tell the past by examining the present’ is fraught with danger, since there is no certainty that the past proceeded exactly as the present.
Refusing to Learn
◆ A California high-school teacher notes that an increasing number of teachers are leaving the field of public education. She says that with many it is not primarily because of increasing student misbehavior. What then? She answers: “What I have encountered recently is much more disturbing, even frightening. Teen-agers are now using their ultimate weapon against the school, the teachers and themselves—they are simply refusing to do the work that leads to learning.” She adds: “No matter how brilliant the lessons I prepare, no matter how much I personally care for learning, no matter how expensive the tools I bring to my classroom, little learning will occur when the students don’t care to learn. Unable to learn for them, unable to sit at my desk and ignore them, I find the only solution for me is to quit teaching.” Thus she joined a lengthening line of former teachers looking for other work.
Not Giving of Selves
◆ The largest Protestant denomination in the United States, the 13-million-member Southern Baptist Convention, last year had the lowest number of baptisms in 27 years. At a meeting of Baptist leaders in San Francisco, Tal Bonham of Oklahoma told the gathering that the main problem was that “our people are just not witnessing as they ought to.” Another Baptist official, C. B. Hogue, said: “What is happening to us is that we give more and more [financially] but do less and less.” He observed that the average Southern Baptist appears to be interested in evangelism “but would rather give dollars than himself.” He added: “We have been proud to be known as the largest Protestant denomination in the United States, but we have apparently forgotten the responsibility that goes with that reputation.” A similar view was expressed by Joe Ford, a director of evangelism in the church. He states that Southern Baptists have become increasingly a “spectator’s denomination,” substituting talk for action, “more concerned with who we are and less with who God is.”
Airplanes Spreading Cholera?
◆ The sudden appearance of cholera in unlikely parts of the world has puzzled experts. It has been found, for example, in remote villages that have had no contact with outside travelers coming from an infected area. After two years of intensive research in this matter, Dr. Charles Rondle of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found that the flight paths of jet planes from India passed almost exactly over the affected parts of areas normally free of cholera. He suggested the possibility that people having the early stages of cholera might be washing in the aircrafts’ washbasins in flight, the water containing the bacteria then being discharged from the aircraft, forming ice crystals that melt before reaching the ground, releasing the bacteria. Dr. Rondle said: “My findings surprised me. I did not before think it was possible, but I am now quite convinced that disease can be spread in this way.”
◆ Last July, Israel became “the only country in the world which officially exempts juveniles under age thirteen from criminal responsibility for their acts,” says Tel Aviv’s daily Ma’ariv. “They can be interrogated in connection with a crime only if an adult is also implicated. Otherwise, a juvenile may be questioned only for the purpose of finding stolen property. A police record must not be opened; and the juvenile cannot be brought to trial.” Even without listing those under 13, Israel’s number of recorded juvenile offenders under 18 has increased by about 25 percent in the past two years.
Totalitarians Control U.N.?
◆ “The totalitarians now have a working majority in the U.N.,” U.S. Senator Daniel P. Moynihan told 500 law students at New York’s Pace University, “and the institution [United Nations] responds increasingly to totalitarian norms.” Reportedly, Moynihan feels that this has drastically changed both the U.N. and the American roles in matters of world peace.
$100 Billion Tax-Free!
◆ According to the New York Post, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has received results from the first probe of America’s so-called “Subterranean Economy.” The study is said to claim that unreported earnings from vice and crime, as well as unreported wages for legitimate occupations, amount to as much as $100 billion a year, far in excess of previous IRS estimates. The Post’s source of information asserted: “They’re afraid to release [the information] before April 16 because of the huge psychological impact it would have on those people who play fair and declare everything when they file their tax returns.” The failure of many workers to report all wages is said to cause about two thirds of the $100-billion gap.
“Better Off” in Jail?
◆ A professional safeblower (safecracker) walked into a police station in England and gave himself up, confessing to a robbery that he had committed years ago. The 44-year-old man previously had spent a number of years in jail for similar offenses, but was released in 1972. Why did he turn himself in? He said it was because he was so depressed with conditions on the “outside.” He told police: “I can expect about seven years for all this, and I will be better off inside. It is a right rat-race, this so-called freedom.”
◆ A seven-year government study involving 3,528 infants born to healthy mothers with no-risk pregnancies concluded that obstetrical medications “often cause serious motor impairment [inability to stand, walk and sit] in infants of mothers who used the drugs,” reported American Medical News. Such medication included inhaled anesthetics as well as local pain-killing agents. As a result of this study, Dr. Sarah H. Broman of the National Institute of Neurological and Communicative Disorders and Stroke recommended that physicians use only the minimum effective doses of such drugs. The inhalant anesthetics appeared to have longer-lasting effects on the infants. Also, a long-term follow-up on those affected showed IQ deficits averaging four points. The study also dismissed the misconception that fewer drugs were currently being used in childbirth due to the popularity of ‘natural birth.’ “In point of fact,” says the report, “the number of drugs administered during labor and delivery is increasing.”
◆ According to the Edison Electric Institute, an American dollar today purchases goods worth some 71 cents less than it could have in 1927. Its purchasing power is about 60 cents less than in 1960, 36 cents less than in 1970, and 27 cents less than in 1973.