Watching the World
“Long Overdue” Pardon
◆ President Carter recently pardoned one of Jehovah’s Witnesses who had been imprisoned for three years during World War II for conscientious refusal of military service. More than half of a $10,000 fine he steadily had been paying was canceled. Reporting on the matter, Michigan’s Macomb Daily interviewed the man’s neighbor, who “said the pardon for his friend was long overdue.” Noting his own feelings, the neighbor remarked: “I don’t feel the way he does about fighting. . . . but a man has to follow his conscience.” The neighbor also observed: “If he’d have been somebody that just wanted to get out of it like a lot of those kids who went to Canada, that would have been one thing. But he was born and raised that way and doing what he believed was right. Here’s a guy that for 35 years has tried his darndest to do what was best for the community and never complained about the treatment he got from the government.”
◆ The public debt of the United States government, passing the $800 billion mark, is expected soon to be one trillion dollars. However, this is not the only financial obligation the government has. The Wall Street Journal reports that the government is obligated for a total of nine trillion dollars. In addition to the public debt, there are loan guarantees, insurance commitments, pension obligations and others. Each taxpayer’s share of this burden would amount to $113,000. In a serious economic depression the government no doubt would have to default on some or most of these obligations, as such a sum is far beyond the government’s capacity to handle.
New Latin Bible
◆ The Roman Catholic “Saint” Jerome’s famous Latin Vulgate translation of the Bible has been formally replaced by a new Latin version 13 years in the making. “The new version appears to contain no startling departures from the ancient texts,” reports the New York Times, “but it brings the language up to date and incorporates the wealth of scholarship done since Jerome, who died in 419, completed his 30-year labor.” For centuries until common-language translations were produced, Jerome’s Vulgate was the only Bible used by the church. This left the common man who did not understand Latin without any access to God’s written Word.
Fertility Festivals Return
◆ In April, Japanese worshipers of the fertility deities Kanamara-sama conducted their annual celebrations. Such ceremonies had been prohibited for many years until the early 1960’s because the government feared that others would consider them barbaric. However, in recent years “festivals openly displaying phallic [male organ] and vulvar symbols are celebrated in many parts of Japan,” says the Mainichi Daily News. “Mores and government control have changed so much since the [prohibition] that foreigners are now given a warm welcome,” and even “participate in the festivities.”
Hear Today, Deaf Tomorrow
◆ Many youths do not believe that highly amplified popular music damages their hearing because they fail to notice any difference in their hearing ability. However, R. W. Fearn of England’s Leeds Polytechnic says that most youngsters would not notice the 10 or 15 decibel loss in hearing that affects many of them. But 20 or 30 years later, when their hearing may naturally decline, he says, this small loss could make the difference between hearing well enough or not. Fearn also stated: “My medical colleagues have found some people in their early twenties who have suffered a sudden and quite catastrophic hearing loss. By a process of exclusion this can only be put down to amplified pop music.”
Soviets and Transfusion
◆ Soviet Life magazine discussed recent advances in heart surgery through use of hypothermia—chilling the patient so that the heart can be stopped without using blood-circulation equipment. In an interview with surgeon Yevgeni Meshalkin, the doctor said: “We can now let the heart stop beating for 25 minutes, with no blood circulating, without damage to the brain or the other organs of the body.” In the article, Soviet Life also notes that “Hypothermia spares the patient blood transfusion,” no doubt alluding to the medical hazards of this procedure.
◆ The New China News Agency claims that Chinese doctors have reconstructed successfully a man’s right hand. He lost both hands four years ago. In a Shanghai hospital, the doctors covered a shaped stainless-steel palm with muscle, blood vessels and skin from his arm. Two toes transplanted from his feet became fingers. The 25-year-old patient was said to have normal feeling, and can eat, write and strike matches with his “fingers.” U.S. expert Dr. William M. Harris of Massachusetts General Hospital says that similar attempts in America have not succeeded, though the individual techniques used by the Chinese are known. “The thing that is unique,” he said, “was taking a series of existing techniques and assembling them in a new combination to solve a very difficult problem.”
Noise Raises Blood Pressure
◆ What happens when experimental monkeys are subjected to the kinds of noises heard by typical ‘blue-collar’ workers? Over a period of three weeks, the animals’ blood pressure jumped 43 percent. Dr. Ernest Paterson, a researcher from the Miami School of Medicine, said: “If I saw my blood pressure go up 30 percent on any kind of a sustained basis, I’d be scared.” It is thought that high blood pressure may be linked to strokes, kidney failure and some forms of blindness. The experimental animals began their day with the ring of an alarm clock, the buzz of an electric razor and the background sound of a television show. Thirty minutes of rush-hour traffic sounds, including a car radio, followed. Then occasional recorded sounds of such things as bulldozers, diesel generators, pile drivers and a cafeteria during lunch hour filled out the “workday.” In the evening, they had to listen to a TV football game. At night, they rested to the hum of an airconditioner, the sound of an occasional low-flying plane and other background noises. All these noises are considered “safe” under government standards.
Inflation Hits Churches
◆ The General Synod of the Church of England recently raised prices for church weddings and burials. As of July 1, burials go for $27 instead of $22 and weddings for $40 instead of $32.
Similarly, in the United States, the Archdiocesan Priest Senate of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, raised prices paid for certain sacraments to priests who help out when the regular parish priest is unable to perform. Pay for hearing confessions and celebrating Mass was doubled. Some priests were unhappy with the “stipend system of receiving payment for the performance of baptisms, weddings, funerals and special masses,” reports the Milwaukee Journal. One priest complained to the Senate: “The whole system really stinks. It amounts to trafficking in the Sacraments. We’ll hear from our Protestant friends that we’re selling the Sacraments—and they’ll probably be right.” Another observed that some priests even travel to states where the rates are higher.
Where Pay Is Highest
◆ Japan is now reported to be the world’s most generous paymaster for manufacturing jobs. Sweden, Belgium and the Federal Republic of Germany also all pay an average hourly rate higher than the United States, according to a study by international management consultants Towers, Perrin, Forster & Crosby.
Living Pollution Gauges
◆ Nile pike send out small electric pulses at a rate of 400 to 800 per minute when they are healthy. Göppingen, Federal Republic of Germany, is experimenting with these fish to help to determine when that city’s water supply becomes polluted. Electrodes in tanks containing the fish detect their pulsing as city water flows through. Slower signals mean that they are becoming ill. “If the impulse rate drops below a critical point,” reports New Scientist magazine, “an alarm sounds and the flow of water to the city may be interrupted until the cause of the trouble is dealt with.” Freshwater fish previously used for this purpose had to be inspected and fed daily, whereas Nile pike need to be fed only once a week, and the electronic monitors do the inspecting.
Long Life Ends
◆ An Arab man from the Jordan’s West Bank who recently died is said to have been 140 years old. Ahmad Abdel Fattah Esswetti had an estimated 223 descendants and “did not smoke or drink alcohol,” says the Agence France-Presse news service.
Spare Body Parts
◆ Just how good are the metal and plastic replacement parts doctors are installing in people with increasing frequency? Orthopedic surgeon Dr. David Bachman, an authority on sports medicine, candidly observed: “Television would have us believe that medicine is ready to replace old, worn-out body parts with man-made replacements that are better than the originals. Sorry, but this is just so much bionic [nonsense]. The artificial knees and hips we work with today can’t take the stress and strain of most sports, and patients who have them are pretty much sidelined.”
◆ A study by the National Federation for Decency in the United States shows that 98 percent of all sexual scenes portrayed on television were outside of marriage. In a year of ‘prime-time’ viewing, those who watched television would be exposed to nearly 20,000 blatant or suggestive sexual scenes. The report also noted that in scenes where a beverage was being used, alcohol was the drink most shown. Thus, one cannot escape the conclusion that people, especially impressionable young persons, who have a steady intake of television are being conditioned toward sexual immorality and alcoholism.
◆ The Population Crisis Committee of Washington, D.C., says that now one out of four pregnancies throughout the world ends in abortion. One estimate is that, yearly, abortions number at least 40 million, half of which are illegal. These illegal abortions are a leading cause of death among women of childbearing age. The Committee says that it expects the incidence of abortion to rise as more people want smaller families, coupled with a lack of alternative family planning services and a growing number of women in the childbearing age.
◆ About five million Americans already have a type of venereal disease that has no known cure, says Dr. William Cunnick, Jr., president of the American Social Health Association. And the disease is spreading rapidly. It is caused by the virus herpes simplex type 2, and is manifested by sores in the genital region. Outbreaks may last from two to five weeks and are said to be “excruciatingly painful.” If a pregnant woman has internal herpes sores at the time of giving birth, there is a strong chance that her infant will get the disease, and more than half of such babies die or are brain-damaged. Infected women are also five times more likely to develop cervical cancer. “If ever there was a health reason to stop having sex with many different people,” says the American Social Health Association, “genital herpes is it.” Hence, living up to the Bible’s high standard of morality by avoiding fornication, adultery or homosexuality is the best protection.