Watching the World
◆ The newspaper El Mercurio of Cuenca, Ecuador, recently carried a report from Moscow complaining that “Jehovah’s Witnesses continually recruit Soviet young men despite the prohibition upon the sect . . . Authorities have never approved listing Jehovah’s Witnesses among the sects tolerated in the USSR for two fundamental reasons: their refusal to comply with military service and their concept of the imminent end of the world, which is called ‘war propaganda.”’ The authorities also complained that “they do not place their children in the pioneer or Konsomol (Communist Youth) organizations, nor do they join the Communist Party, the unions or vote in the elections. . . . [They] carry on an extraordinary effort to spread the ‘good news’ [their Bible message about God’s kingdom].”
To counteract Witness growth, says El Mercurio, “the Soviet press is unrelenting in its attacks on the sect, accusing it of ideologically undermining the population.” Even so, it notes, “Jehovah’s Witnesses have been able to recruit tens of thousands of members in the USSR and they seem to be stronger in Central Russia, the Caucasus region, and eastern Siberia.”
“Gentle and Peaceful” Prisoners
◆ Jacobo Timerman, former publisher of a leading Argentine newspaper, La Opinión, recently wrote a commentary describing the 29 months he endured as a political prisoner from 1977 onward. Among his impressions published in New Yorker magazine was an encounter with four young prisoners who brought him food:
“Their jail sentences range from three to five years. Mornings, at dawn, they clean the ward, wash the meal utensils, and sing beautiful religious songs. They are Jehovah’s Witnesses, who refuse for conscientious reasons to serve in the armed forces. Although the Argentine Constitution guarantees freedom of worship, the armed forces do not accept the principle of conscientious objection. Even as children, therefore, Jehovah’s Witnesses are aware that on reaching the age of eighteen they will have to serve an extended period in prison. They accept the punishment as part of their religious faith. They are gentle and peaceful, and perform all the jobs and services in the prison. They’re aware that I’m incommunicado, but they always find some way to exchange a few words. During the day, I wait for those four opportunities to talk to someone.”—April 20, 1981, p. 108.
Turkey and Human Rights
◆ The Turkish newspaper Milliyet recently reported: “In Ferikoy, Istanbul, 146 persons were arrested when holding a secret meeting under the name of ‘Jehovah’s Witnesses.”’ According to the report, both security police and a military patrol searched the house and arrested those attending the so-called secret meeting, catching them “red-handed.” With what fearsome ‘secrets’? Answers Milliyet: “During the raid a great amount of books ‘Choosing the Best Way of Life’ [a discussion of the Bible books of 1 and 2 Peter] and ‘Service Meeting Programs’ [outlines for religious meetings] of the suspects were found.”
Was this actually a secret meeting? Well, for nearly five years, Jehovah’s Witnesses had been meeting at this same “house” (Kingdom Hall) for their thrice weekly religious meetings, and this fact had been properly registered with the Military Commander in Istanbul. In 1974 Turkish courts and the government legally accepted Jehovah’s Witnesses as a religion and in 1980 the Supreme Court of Appeal acquitted them of charges of subversive activity. Hence, such police action is an outright violation of the freedom of worship and human rights, which even the Military Government under Chief of State General K. Evren has promised to protect.—See Awake! 6/8/81, pp. 25-27.
World Under “Hypnosis”?
◆ When former Ambassador to Moscow George F. Kennan recently received the Albert Einstein Peace Prize, he commented on the U.S.–Soviet nuclear buildup. He said that they were acting like “victims of some sort of hypnosis, men in a dream, like lemmings [small creatures known to drown themselves en masse] headed for the sea.” Kennan also said that the atomic overkill capacity of the nations has reached “such grotesque dimensions as to defy rational understanding.” Such irrational behavior is to be expected, according to Bible prophecy, because the nations are being maneuvered by unseen demonic influences that “go forth to the kings of the entire inhabited earth, to gather them together to the war of the great day of God the Almighty . . . to the place that is called in Hebrew Har–Magedon.”—Rev. 16:14, 16.
“Closer to Armageddon”?
◆ After Israeli warplanes attacked and destroyed an Iraqi nuclear plant near Baghdad, Newsweek magazine considered the problem of spreading atomic capabilities among smaller nations. “No matter how dangerous the nuclear game has become,” said Newsweek, “smaller powers, fearful and suspicious of their neighbors, still seem determined to play. The result . . . will be a world in which all nations live a little bit closer to Armageddon.”
Cow Wrecks Train
◆ According to the United News of India, survivors of India’s worst train disaster claimed that the engineer had suddenly braked on a bridge to avoid hitting a cow, one of Hinduism’s sacred animals. This is thought to have caused seven of the train’s nine overcrowded cars to tumble into the Bagmati River, drowning as many as 800 passengers, or even more by some estimates. The chief minister of Bihar State declared the wreck to be “the biggest and worst in living memory.”
Inventor Says “Pill” Abused
◆ “I personally feel the pill has rather spoiled young people,” said the coinventor of the birth-control pill, Dr. MinChueh Chang. ‘It’s made them more permissive . . . But people will abuse anything.” As a result, he complained, youth “indulges in too much sexual activity and pays less attention to other activities.” As for the sexual revolution, he said, “we were not interested in that. The oral contraceptive was made merely for the population explosion . . . rather than that young people could have a good time.”
Papal Visit Backfires
◆ The papal visit to the Federal Republic of Germany late last year reportedly caused a wave of church membership withdrawals in Cologne. According to the newspaper Schwarzwälder Bote, the Cologne District Court had been registering a monthly average of 200 declarations of withdrawal, but after jumping to 485 in October, withdrawals rose even higher, to 381 for just the first half of November (the month of the pope’s visit). Why? Many Cologne Catholics are said to have specifically mentioned the papal visit and the German bishops’ pastoral letter issued in connection with the fall governmental elections. Apparently such obvious political meddling did not set well with many Germans.
Thirty-Six Years in Hiding
◆ A Soviet newspaper reports that police recently found a 61-year-old man who had been hiding in a dark bunker for the 36 years since World War II. His family had hidden him so that he would not be punished for collaborating with the Nazis. He was said to be almost blind and without any sense of time.
Australian Look at U.S. Guns
◆ “Even a cursory look at the relentless U.S. statistics on deaths caused by guns leads the observer from any other Western democracy to the conclusion that the American attitude toward this problem borders upon insanity,” observes the Age newspaper of Melbourne, Australia. “Handguns caused about 10,000 deaths in the U.S. last year. The British, with a quarter the population, had 40. In 1978 . . . there were more killings with pistols and revolvers by children ten and under in America than the British total for killers of all ages. In Japan, with half the U.S. population, the 1979 total of crimes involving handguns was 171; in West Germany it was 69.”
Why the immense difference? In the Age’s opinion, “Americans seem unable or unwilling to acknowledge the simple truth that nations such as Australia, Britain, Canada, Japan, Germany, and Sweden have strict gun control and far less gun mayhem. It cannot be a coincidence.”
◆ That laying hens should wear contact lenses seems absurd. But it apparently solves a real poultry problem. The birds peck at each other to determine who is “top chicken.” If blood is drawn, the rest often will kill the victim. “A farm can lose as much as 25 percent of its flock,” explained a poultry science researcher at Virginia Polytechnic Institute. “Debeaking” has been a method of coping with the problem, but it makes feeding awkward and wasteful. On the other hand, red-tinted contact lenses “keep hens docile because the red tint makes it difficult for them to see blood,” reports Science 81 magazine. The lenses are said to cost less than 20 cents (U.S.) a pair, stay in for the egg-laying life of a hen, and save farmers about a cent per dozen eggs by keeping flock death rates to 5 percent.
“Psychic Phenomena” and Medicine
◆ The American Journal of Psychiatry reports that a survey has revealed that 58 percent of medical school deans, psychiatrists and others in the field favor a study of psychic phenomena in their school curricula. Over a third of those surveyed claimed that they had personal knowledge of a psychic event. “Our findings indicate a high degree of conviction among psychiatrists that many psychic phenomena may be a reality and that nonmedical factors play an important role in the healing process,” said Dr. Stanley Dean, professor of psychiatry at the University of Miami, in Florida. And Medical Tribune magazine observed: “The survey adds to mounting evidence that psychic phenomena are gaining some official respectability.”
In a similar vein, Dr. J. O. Mume, writing in the Sunday Observer of Lagos, Nigeria, recently stated: “Trado-medicalism [traditional medicine] cannot be complete if it fails to take into consideration the incidence of diseases and misfortunes caused through . . . witchcraft.” He added that “by taking into account the influence of witchcraft, trado-medicalism can treat many diseases that elude scientific diagnosis.” Similar phenomena existed in the time of Christ, who knew and ably dealt with their demonic source.—Matt. 17:14-18.
Driving to Distraction
◆ According to studies by European researchers, reports the Italian newspaper La Provincia of Cremona, “five percent of all [auto] accidents that happen every year in Europe have as their primary and secondary cause the fact that the driver was smoking.” The article notes that, among other things, smoking causes “distraction of the driver due to tobacco ash falling on his clothes, or the cigarette that slipped on the seat or car rugs. In his attempt to get it back, the driver takes his eyes off the road, with very serious results.” La Provincia indicates that, on the recommendation of the researchers, Italy’s ministry of transportation has considered prohibition of smoking while one is driving.