Watching the World
Upsurge in Violent Crime
◆ Law-enforcement officials in the United States express deep concern about a new wave of violent crime throughout the country. The Federal Bureau of Investigation reported a 17-percent increase in all types of violent crime during the first three months of 1979 compared to the same period in 1978. That is the biggest jump in four years. Robbery increased 19 percent, aggravated assault 17, forcible rape 11, and murder 9 percent. The increases were reported in every section of the country, in cities of all sizes and in country areas as well. And in Britain, the Daily Mail quoted Prince Philip, who spoke of the “avalanche of lawlessness threatening to engulf our civilisation.” He observed that the crime statistics in Britain were “sobering, puzzling and depressing.”
Old Methods Save Energy
◆ Greater use is being made of windmills to pump water, saving electricity costs and fuel. At one time windmills were a standard means for pumping water from the ground in many lands, both for private use and for watering livestock. But electric pumps brought a decline in their use. Now, with the high cost of electricity and fuel, more people, particularly in rural areas, are installing water-pumping windmills. The initial cost is more than made up in time by not having to pay electricity costs, and maintenance is minimal.
Before the advent of air conditioning, ceiling fans with large blades were popular. Now interest in them is being revived because of the energy problem. They can operate for about the same cost as a 60-watt light bulb. One manufacturer stated: “Our business is 68 times what it was just a few years ago.” He noted that a ceiling fan can supplement air conditioning, for when the thermostat is set at 80 degrees (26.7 degrees C.) the fan “can make it seem like 72.”
Two More Smoking Hazards
◆ Years ago it was clearly established that smoking cigarettes causes lung cancer and other diseases. It also has been established that pregnant women who smoke jeopardize their unborn infants. Recently, two more hazards have come to light:
In Geneva, World Health Organization experts say that men who smoke may be endangering their unborn children. Toxicology researcher Helmut Greim of Munich stated: “There is an increase in prenatal mortality where fathers smoke, and it is essential for people to realize that not only smoking mothers should be careful.” The scientist says that cigarette smoke contains mutagens that produce genetic changes in spermatozoa, so that those who smoke regularly increase the infant mortality rate of their offspring.
At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and also at the Harvard School of Public Health, research has clarified the puzzle as to why asbestos workers who smoke have such a sharply greater risk of cancer. It is because smoking reduces the ability of the lungs to clear themselves of inhaled airborne impurities such as asbestos fibers. Experiments established that half of the dust inhaled by smokers remained in their lungs after 12 months, but only 10 percent of the dust inhaled by non-smokers remained in their lungs after the same period. The researchers said that this demonstrated “a dramatic separation between smokers and non-smokers.”
Blood Bank Sued
◆ The Oklahoma Supreme Court held, in an 8-1 decision, that a woman stricken with hepatitis after receiving a blood transfusion from a paid donor has the right to sue the blood bank. The woman claimed that the risk of such hepatitis has been recognized for years by the medical profession and the blood-banking industry, and the court agreed.
Crushing Tibet’s Buddhism
◆ Since the occupation of Tibet by Communist Chinese forces in 1951, the once dominant Buddhist religion is being crushed. The New York Times reports: “The all-powerful Lamaist theocracy that long ruled Tibet has been transformed into a virtual museum piece.” Before Communist control, there were 110,000 lamas (Buddhist monks) in Tibet. Now there are only 2,000. The number of Buddhist monasteries has been reduced from 2,464 to only 10. The Drepung monastery, located on the outskirt of Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, once had 10,000 resident monks, and owned estates that had 25,000 serfs. Now there are only 270 lamas in Drepung, with no serfs to do their work. The able-bodied lamas themselves must work the fields for their food. One of them declared: “I believe that in a definite period of time, religion will die out.”
Breast-feeding: Mixed Picture
◆ In many of the undeveloped, Third World countries the breast-feeding of infants is on the decline. It is reported that in Singapore about 70 percent of babies used to be breast-fed, but now only an estimated 15 percent are. One reason given is that infant-formula manufacturers in such lands have launched intensive advertising campaigns to try to convince mothers that bottle-feeding is better. However, in many poor lands, some mothers overdilute the formula, resulting in malnutrition for the infant. Too, the water is often polluted, contaminating the bottle and the nipple as well. In contrast, the trend in the United States is to go back to breast-feeding. And the American Academy of Pediatrics announced that one of its major goals would be to urge all mothers to breast-feed their babies where possible. Not only is it healthier for the baby and the mother, but, as Dr. John Kennell of Case Western Reserve University stated, it is “the most powerful way to forge a strong bond between mother and infant.”
A Contrast in Attendance
◆ The number of Germans regularly attending church has dropped sharply in the last 15 years. A survey sponsored by the newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reveals that the drop among Catholics was from 55 to 32 percent, and among Lutherans from 48 to 26 percent. Attendance by young people between the ages of 16 and 25 is even lower now: 18 percent among Catholics and 4 percent among Lutherans. The study revealed that many people consider church services to be unrelated to “real life.” This despite attempts by the churches to draw them back with jazz, pop music and other “superficial reforms of accommodation,” as the paper calls them.
Interestingly, Jehovah’s Witnesses have refused to introduce any “superficial reforms of accommodation” into their worship. Yet the three weekly meetings they hold had an average attendance throughout the year of 87, 91 and 98 percent, respectively, of the total number of Witnesses living in the Federal Republic of Germany, about a third of whom are younger than 35. Why the difference? Apparently many young people are being drawn to God by the marvelous hope and the logical answers the Bible gives.
◆ Pigeons are being trained to spot the international orange color used in life rafts and life jackets. Their long-range vision is much better than that of humans, so they are being used in rescue helicopters, carried in specially built cages. Once the pigeons spot a target, they are trained to peck at a switch that releases food as a reward. The switch also activates a signal light for the pilot, telling him that a target has been sighted. During recent tests, the pigeons spotted the targets on the first try 96 percent of the time, compared to 35 percent for human spotters.
Dangerous Reducing Method
◆ One drastic method of reducing weight is by surgically removing a large portion of the food-absorbing intestine. However, this technique may lead to serious complications. A team of scientists in England and Wales found that younger patients undergoing this bypass method have a much higher risk of getting a form of rickets, a bone disease. Of 21 patients who had the reducing surgery, 10 developed symptoms.
◆ Two Australians say that they have invented an emergency light that runs off household tap water. The device consists of a small hydroelectric generator that runs off the pressure of any household tap. The generator supplies two small light bulbs with a 12-volt DC charge, enough light, it is said, for reading. The amount of water used for one hour’s light was about the same as two flushes of a toilet.
Deadly Alcohol Abuse
◆ Alcohol abuse is the number one cause of death among persons aged 15 to 24 in the United States. Statistics show that in this age group 60 percent of motor-vehicle deaths are due to alcohol abuse. It was also listed as the main factor in 69 percent of drowning victims and in 86 percent of murders.
Bible City Found?
◆ The newspaper Die Welt in the Federal Republic of Germany reported: “Remnants of Biblical Timna—the place where Israelite judge and freedom fighter Samson killed the lion—have been found in the Holy Land’s coastal plain near the old Pass Road between Jaffa and Jerusalem. In the bottom layer remnants of a Canaanite city destroyed by fire around 1200 B.C.E. have been found.” The paper continued: “A clay tablet proves that the Philistines, until now thought to be illiterate, were able to write. After its Philistine period Timna came under King David’s rulership. The most recent archaeological findings indicate the existence of a Jewish settlement there during the fifth century B.C.E.”
China Releases Statistics
◆ China recently released the first official statistics on its economy, after 20 years of not publishing such information. The nation’s population is reported to be 958 million. The figures also reveal that China produces more grain than does any other country, is third in the production of coal and fifth in steel.
Watching an Island Grow
◆ Over the course of a week’s flights, a pilot for Air Tonga in the South Pacific reports that he watched an area of smoke and steam bubbling out of the sea develop into a large island. The airline pilot said that as the new volcanic island rose in the center of the Tonga island chain, it “was hurling small rocks as high as 500 feet [150 m].” At first he saw only the green outline of a mountain peak under the steaming surface. “The green was about two miles [3 km] in diameter on Thursday,” he related. “By the next day it was about five miles [8 km]. On Saturday it had grown to about seven miles [11 km] in diameter. On Sunday the island had emerged and was about 10 miles [16 km] in diameter.”
◆ Are some who read pornography influenced to commit sexual crimes? A 16-year-old English youth recently brought before the St. Albans Crown Court admitted raping a 14-year-old girl after reading a pornographic magazine. The prosecutor said that the young man had become aroused by the magazine and carried out a “brutal, sadistic and premeditated rape.” And the defense counsel said: “Both the victim and the perpetrator of this crime are victims of the pornography. The people who publish these magazines have a lot to answer for.”
Most Dangerous Sport
◆ In 1977 and 1978, bicycles retained a firm grip on first place as the source of the greatest number of injuries in the United States. Data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System showed that last year 446,878 were involved in bicycle injuries, 399,874 in baseball, 394,827 in football, and 349,760 in basketball. The figures also showed that 155,158 were injured using playground equipment, and 103,893 due to snow skiing.