Watching the World
Third World Health Problems
● The president of the World Health Assembly (governing body of the World Health Organization), Chong Hon Nyan of Malaysia, in a speech to the Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, said that health problems “once thought of as being the by-products of affluence” now plague Third World nations. Ailments caused by alcoholism, drug abuse and smoking, along with psychosocial illness and cardiovascular diseases, are now common in the Third World. “Lifestyles are no longer purely conditioned by climate or culture,” he said. “They are imitated as fast as communications can speed images from one country to another.”
● Europe’s first “quick-build” Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses was recently constructed in Northampton, England. Laboring round the clock, Witness work crews, made up of more than 500 volunteers, turned a foundation in an open field into a completed building in three and a half days. Is speed of construction the Witnesses’ main objective? “The aim,” says local elder Sam Tree, as quoted in Northampton’s Chronicle and Echo, “was to get the building work out of the way as soon as possible so that we could get on with our preaching work.”
A policeman visiting the site during the swift construction of the Kingdom Hall could not believe his eyes. He touched a wall and then leaned against it because, as he said, “I just wanted to see if it was real.” Since about 200 two-day Kingdom Halls have been built in the United States and Canada, over 40 construction workers from North America came to assist their fellow Witnesses in England. More “quick-build” Kingdom Halls are being planned for Britain.
Juvenile Delinquency Increases in Japan
● “Juvenile delinquency is still on the rise in Japan, and is spreading to coeds and younger students, the National Police Agency (NPA) warned,” reports Asahi Evening News. “More minors are now being charged with criminal offences than adults, the agency noted.” The largest group of offenders were 14-year-olds, followed by those 15 years of age, up over 6 percent and 17 percent respectively.
● The influence of organized religion in Finland is waning, according to a recent report by the Suomen Gallup poll organization. The study examined religion’s role in Finland over the past 30 years and found that not only are Finns praying less but Finnish parents have stopped teaching their children evening prayers. During the past three decades, Sunday church attendance fell from 16 percent to its present 12 percent. Support for the ordination of women ministers rose among the Finns. Today, 77 percent endorse women’s ordination compared to 52 percent 30 years ago.
New Planetary System?
● The first direct evidence implying the existence of another planetary system was discovered by the Infrared Astronomy Satellite. This orbiting observatory, a joint project by Britain, the Netherlands and the United States of America, discovered solid objects orbiting the star Vega. The objects, which varied from pebble-size to planet-size, are within a cloud or shell enveloping Vega that is more immense than the area covered by the planets of the solar system. Officials at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of the California Institute of Technology describe the discovery as “the first scientific opportunity to study what may be an early solar system accreting from stellar debris.” Vega is 155 trillion miles (250 trillion km) from earth and is double the size of the Sun.
Window on Atoms
● For the first time, pictures of atoms within solids have been seen directly with the aid of a high-voltage electron microscope called ARM (atomic resolution microscope). ARM, with its more sophisticated electron system, is different from other electron microscopes because atoms deep within solids are viewed without the help of computer enhancement. Usually computers are needed to interpret the fuzzy images that electron microscopes create. ARM, designed and built in Japan, occupies three stories of the National Microscopy Center at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories, California. It can become a tool for designing new types of steel and ceramics.
● Working out in the workplace is proving to increase worker morale and decrease trips to the company doctor, saving the employer tens of thousands of dollars, reports Medical Tribune. Fitness Canada, a government agency, instituted a model fitness program for the employees of two companies. The results? After ten months, absenteeism among the “high adherence” exercisers dropped 42 percent. Apply this percentage to the whole company and a savings of $175,000 per year would be realized. “In addition,” the article continues, “participants in the fitness program quit their jobs at the rate of 1.5% compared with a rate among other employees during the same period of 15%.” If projected to the entire company, “the annual saving would be $510,000.” In the United States over 500 companies sponsor physical fitness programs on the work site.
Children of Lesbians
● “Children reared by homosexual couples . . . may suffer sexual disorientation,” says Kathy Roberts, director of child psychiatry at Stanford University Medical Center. From her observation of artificially inseminated Lesbians, she noted: “In one case that I’ve seen personally, when the (daughters) reached adolescence, there was a big issue of how you showed affection to your mother without it being homosexual. There was a threat of sexual uncertainty, and I’m not sure it was ever worked out.”
● What appears as good news for the jobless youth may not be so. Though the number unemployed in the industrial world is beginning to drop, according to a new study by OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development), the economic and social cost of ten years of rising unemployment has left scars that will not easily go away. In the eight countries studied by OECD—Belgium, France, Britain, Holland, West Germany, Sweden, United States and Canada—the number of people who have been unemployed 12 months or more has risen. Long spells of unemployment can devastate motivation and become self-perpetuating. Commenting on OECD’s report, The Economist states: “More young people will be caught in the trap of long-term unemployment. If so, when unemployment begins to fall, they will be left behind: unemployed, unemployable and angry.”
Pacemakers: Yes or No?
● Pacemakers, those silver-dollar-size pulse generators that regulate the heartbeat through electrical impulses, are found in 500,000 Americans. About 120,000 new ones will be implanted this year at a cost of $12,000 for each procedure, estimates Dr. Michael Bilitch, director of the Pacemaker Center at the University of Southern California School of Medicine. U.S. Senate investigators on the Special Committee on Aging concluded that there may be as much as $500 million worth of waste, fraud and abuse in the pacemaker area each year. What should a person do? Find out exactly why the physician believes a pacemaker is necessary, suggests Dr. Bilitch. “If a physician can’t explain why a person needs a pacemaker,” he says, “the patient should wonder about that—and perhaps find another doctor.”
● Scientists have made a new discovery about mother’s milk—it is a parasite killer! “Until now [there] has been no information concerning antiparasitic factors in human milk,” reports Science magazine. For the first time under laboratory conditions researchers found evidence that certain microorganisms that cause disease in the digestive tract fall victim to human milk. Infection by one of these parasites is widespread in children and can result in severe diarrhea and decreased absorption of food nutrients. Milk from cows and goats did not have this ability to kill parasites. Although not one of the tests was performed on people, the scientific summary states: “Human milk may play a protective role in infants exposed to this parasite.”
The $169,834 Body?
● How much is your body worth? The New England Journal of Medicine claims that a 154-pound human body has components worth the following: cholesterol, $525; fibrinogen, $739.50; hemoglobin, $2,550; albumin, $4,819.50; prothrombin, $30,600; IgG class antibody, $30,600; and myoglobin, $100,000.