Watching the World
Side Effects of Sterilization
◆ A University of North Carolina physician recently reported that one fourth of the women who are sterilized by methods that burn or tie their Fallopian tubes suffer side effects. These include pain and bleeding. In her study of the matter, Ewa Radwanska, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology, found that sterilized women have a higher incidence of abnormal hormone levels. The effect can often be an irregular menstruation cycle with long periods of bleeding. Few patients and doctors, she indicated, apparently consider the matter of side effects before going ahead with sterilization: “I don’t think women are generally told of the negative after effects, which can appear even a year or more after surgery, and many physicians don’t take seriously the side effects sterilized women report.”
Similarly, Dr. Niels Lauersen writes in Medical World News that “sterilized women have a greater-than-average risk of irregular menstrual bleeding, frequently accompanied by pain. Caught in a maze of problems, a woman may end up having an unnecessary hysterectomy.” He also reports that physicians are finding “a vast number” of sterilized patients who regret the step.
As for vasectomies, Dr. Lauersen reports that one scientific study indicates that men undergoing such an operation may increase their risk of having a heart attack. After the sterilization, the male sperm, denied their normal outlet, seep into the bloodstream. There they apparently set up a reaction, resulting in production of antibodies. These, in turn, appear to speed up the process of arteriosclerosis, or thickening of the arteries, which can lead to a stroke or a heart attack. “I would not advise any of my friends to have a vasectomy,” he says, “until it has been shown the operation doesn’t raise the incidence of heart attacks.”
‘Greatest Research Effort’
◆ Former United States Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara recently criticized increased military spending by industrialized nations as being more damaging than helpful to global security. Speaking before a University of Chicago audience, Mr. McNamara, now president of the World Bank, declared: “Public expenditures on weapons research and development now approach $30 billion a year and mobilize the talents of half a million scientists and engineers throughout the world.” He added: “That is a greater research effort than is devoted to any other activity on earth, and it consumes more public research money than is spent on the problems of energy, health, education and food combined. On average, one tax dollar in six is devoted to military expenditure, and that means that at the present levels of spending the average taxpayer can expect over his lifetime to give up three or four years’ income to the arms race.”
Venice—Sinking No More?
◆ Over the years Venice had been sinking at a noticeable rate—an average of .2 inches (0.5 cm) a year. The cause was largely man-made. Some 20,000 wells had been dug, thereby tapping the water table that cushions this city of many islands. But now the word is that Venice is sinking only because of natural causes, therefore only slightly. Many wells have been capped and aqueducts bring in water from the Po Valley. Venice’s sinking from man-made causes, says geologist Paolo Gatto, has definitely ended.
VD Epidemic Among Schoolgirls
◆ Officials of Papua New Guinea’s Education Department have reported that one in every three girl students at a school in the Eastern Highlands has venereal disease. The result of the survey shocked education officials, one of whom said: “These figures are horrifying, even more so as many of the victims are in grade 7 and 8.” Some of the girls with VD were as young as 12 years of age.
World’s Busiest Airports
◆ According to computations made by Airline Executive magazine, Chicago’s O’Hare Airport is the busiest single facility in the world. Last year it handled more than 49,000,000 passengers. The fastest-growing airport was Atlanta, which handled some 40,000,000 passengers last year. The Los Angeles Airport reported nearly 33,000,000 passengers, and London’s Heathrow Airport nearly 27,000,000. The New York area’s three major airports—LaGuardia, Kennedy and Newark—handled nearly 51 million passengers. This was more than any other metropolitan area in the world.
Racing into Debt
◆ “It took the American national debt 27 years to double to 400 billion dollars by 1971,” says U.S. News & World Report. But it took not even one third of that time, “less than eight years to double again when it soared past 800 billion on April 9.”
Too Vulgar Even for Convicts
◆ A rock concert was recently held for the benefit of prisoners at Northumberland Acklington jail in England. However, the prisoners soon walked out on the punk rock group in disgust. Prisoners said it was in bad taste and that they could not stand the foul language of the entertainers. Complained one prisoner: “I only stayed five minutes—the language was disgusting. Because we have been convicted of social crimes is no reason why we should be treated as tough guys who enjoy swearing and bawdy humor.”
Skiing to the North Pole
◆ The Soviet News Agency Tass reported that a seven-man ski expedition skied their way to the North Pole, covering 1,000 miles (1,600 km) across the frozen Arctic Ocean. The Soviet skiers were said to have arrived at the Pole in good health.
Italy: Big Drop in Priests
◆ At the annual Italian bishop’s conference in the Vatican, Monsignor Attilio Nicora, auxiliary bishop of Milan, disclosed that Italy had a 58-percent decrease in the number of priests ordained over the past 12 years. In 1966, he said, 918 Italian men were ordained as priests, to compare with only 384 in 1978. As for seminaries in Italy, he revealed that the number has declined by 31 percent.
Youth Gang Problem in U.S.S.R.
◆ Despite crackdowns to try to rid cities of teen-age toughs who commit crimes, street gangs are still a problem in the Soviet Union. A Soviet newspaper recently published a letter that it received from a girl from Sevastopol: “I belong to a gang that everybody is afraid of. We’ve ripped up all the playground equipment. We have a fight almost every night. The girls fight just as well as the boys. All of us have money, so liquor is no problem. We’re all known at the police station. We’ve begun to wonder whether this is what we want, but none of us knows how to break it up.”
New Malaria Threat in Amazon
◆ Professor Warwick Kerr, director of the National Amazonic Research Institute, warned that malaria could return in the Amazon. The malaria-transmitting mosquitoes of the anopheles family have developed resistance to DDT, which is normally used to combat the insects. He predicted “unpleasant surprises” for the population if efforts to find a new form of DDT and a vaccine should be slow.
Average Life Expectancy
◆ Which country leads the world in the longest average life expectancy? According to the latest United Nations Demographic Yearbook, it is Iceland. There the average life expectancy for females is 79.2 years and 73 for males. But Sweden had the world’s lowest infant mortality rate: 8.0 per live 1,000 births. The United States was quite far down on the list—in 19th place, with 15.1 deaths per 1,000 live births.
◆ The Swiss work longer hours than do other Europeans. They average more than 2,000 hours a year at work and take fewer days of leave; that is, 18 days a year. Behind Switzerland in the number of working hours are Sweden, Denmark, Belgium and France. Workers in the Federal Republic of Germany put in an average of 1,784 hours a year and get 27 days of leave.
Forgetful Train Passengers
◆ The Japanese National Railways recently reported that forgetful passengers left behind, on their trains and at their stations, during fiscal 1978, an all-time record of cash—2,400,000,000 yen (about $11,162,000, U.S.). Seventy-eight percent of the money was returned to the owners. As for articles left behind on trains and at stations, these came to 1,812,229. The items that passengers most frequently left behind were umbrellas, the total coming to 470,000.
◆ Marian College, a Catholic college in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, has decided to adopt a military training program. After the board of trustees voted unanimously for army training, faculty members of the Humanistic Studies and Sociology divisions wrote a letter to the board of trustees, stating: “We remain convinced that there is a profound incongruity in linking an institution professing the Christian humanistic tradition in education with a program of military training.”
Productivity Puffed Away
◆ The Robert E. Nolan Company, a consulting firm of Simsbury, Connecticut, recently disclosed that office workers who smoke puff away about 30 minutes of productivity per day. If a worker’s time is valued at $4 (U.S.) an hour, that amounts to $500 (U.S.) in productivity going up in smoke each year. Because of “ritualistic cleaning, lighting and relighting,” a pipe smoker costs his employer $900 (U.S.) a year in lost productivity.
◆ In Holland, Roman Catholic priests are being encouraged to conserve their strength and reduce their work load on weekends. Cardinal Johannes Willebrands says that priests are being overworked on weekends and recommends that they christen babies in groups and persuade people not to marry on Saturdays. The number of Masses on the weekend, he suggested, should be restricted.
◆ According to the Rand Youth Poll in 1978, teen-age spending in the United States reached a record $32,200,000,000! A spokesman for the market research concern suggested that teen-agers may be following the example of their parents by overspending and impulsively buying things that are not really needed.
Acupuncture for Schizophrenia?
◆ The Chinese are treating schizophrenia patients with acupuncture and report good success—about 75-percent improvement rate. Like Western doctors, they also use drugs, but the Chinese say that they often find acupuncture more effective than drugs. Two behavioral scientists from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York recently made a study of acupuncture treatment of schizophrenia. They treated three chronic schizophrenia patients over a nine-week period, using no drugs but only acupuncture at specific meridian points designated by Chinese literature. The result? The American Journal of Psychiatry states that they found noticeable improvement in two of the three persons treated. “The present study shows that acupuncture, when correctly performed, exerts a therapeutic action,” asserts the report.
An Escapee Record?
◆ According to reports, Sweden may lead the world in the number of prison escapees. Last year 1,726 prisoners escaped from Swedish prisons—about five escapes a day! Compounding the problem is the number of inmates who are granted leaves but who fail to return to prison—3,800 in 1978.