Watching the World
Pornography and Rape
Recent testimony at hearings of the U.S. Federal Commission on Pornography revealed that rape is a more common experience for American women than most realize. Researchers also testified that violent pornography has had a part in encouraging rape. Evelina Kane, a board member of the National Coalition on Television Violence, who represents “Women Against Pornography,” stated: “A large number of battered and sexually assaulted women have come to us where pornography has played a role in the abuse.” Studies by Professor Edward Donnerstein of the University of Wisconsin have shown increases in the willingness of students to rape women after viewing violent pornography, popular violent horror movies, and movies of nonsexual violence against women.
The results of a survey conducted in Family Planning Perspectives revealed that a large percentage of unmarried women in their 20’s lead sexually active lives. According to the survey conducted in the 48 contiguous states of the United States, 82 percent of the 1,314 women who participated in this survey had engaged in sexual intercourse at some time, while 53 percent admitted to engaging in sexual relations during the month the actual survey was in progress.
‘The World on a Binge’
“The world is on a binge,” says the International Labor Organization in Canada’s Globe and Mail. The report shows that the imbibing of alcoholic beverages is definitely on the increase in many lands. Worldwide growth is indicated by the statistic that in a period of “over 20 years, world wine consumption has increased by 20 per cent, spirits by 50 per cent and beer by 124 per cent.” The survey also revealed that “France topped the list at 86 litres [91 qt] of wine, 44 [46 qt] of beer and five [5.3 qt] of spirits” per person every year. In the intake of liters of pure alcohol, Italy, Spain, and Portugal followed France. Canada was 16th on the list, Norway was last.
Global Water Shortage
The horrific picture of hunger and death caused by the severe drought in Africa “is but a prelude of things to come,” warns a new study by the Worldwatch Institute, a Washington-based research organization. Unless conservative and efficient use is made of existing water supplies, within the next 20 years both affluent and developing countries will not be able to meet their water needs. The study, “Conserving Water: The Untapped Alternative,” notes: “Only by managing water demand rather than ceaselessly striving to meet it, is there hope for a truly secure and sustainable water future.”
Infant Earthquake Survivors
Last September the ground beneath Mexico City buckled and shook, leaving more than 5,000 dead, 8,000 injured, and countless traumatized survivors aimlessly walking the streets. Yet, incredibly, some babies buried in the rubble survived—even after a week in the ruins of the General Hospital in Mexico City. Why?
Specialists in pediatric medicine point to the extra reserve of body fluids found in the newborn and their ability to handle stress. Babies who are born after a full-term pregnancy “have an excess of fluids that naturally protect them against dehydration,” reports The New York Times. In addition, due to the birth process, the newborn have an elevated flow of adrenaline, which may have helped “their bodies overcome the shock of their burial and the deprivation of nutrition,” continues the article. Also, “fetal hemoglobin” is found in the blood of the newborn. This helps them to get along with less oxygen for a while after birth. “It’s amazing,” said Dr. T. Berry Brazelton of the Harvard Medical School about Mexico City’s infant survivors, “but infants are just equipped to handle stress.”
“Design With Fear”
Architects face a new challenge: how to design buildings that are safe from terrorist attack. In 1970 there were 293 terrorist attacks worldwide; in 1984 the figure soared to 3,525. The target most often picked by terrorist groups? Buildings, “with bombings leading the list as the means of choice,” says Progressive Architecture. Why buildings? Because they are usually “vulnerable, sometimes symbolic and nearly always gathering places,” observes the magazine. Hence, more and more they provide the stage for terrorism’s violent theater. So, what is a safe building? The article notes that some security specialists describe it “as a prison turned inside out.” Do people see relief in the immediate future? “Terrorism is a condition of modern life,” says Dr. Robert Kupperman, an authority on counterterrorism at the Georgetown Center for Strategic and International Studies in the United States. “We will have to live with it, so we’d better learn how.”
“Boys and girls are more likely to be delinquent if they have delinquent friends,” reports the Research and Planning Unit of the British Home Office. The survey of teenage troublemakers notes that parents underestimate the risks of friendship with delinquents. Two thirds of the teenagers interviewed had friends who had been involved in illegal activity during the past year. One factor bearing on the delinquency problem, according to The Times of London, is “not having a close relationship with father.” The last 10 to 15 years have witnessed big changes in the pattern of family life—increase in divorces, single-parent families, and working mothers—making ‘young people seem to be more autonomous than those of earlier generations,’ observes the report.
Youth and Tobacco
Every political group represented in the German Federal Parliament wants legally to protect young people from smoking. Even after the Panel for Youth, Family, and Health had listened to 20 experts for almost eight hours, it was still uncertain of “what protective measures would really be effective and suitable.” But the experts did make clear that “to be determined to quit smoking, or not to start in the first place,” is the crucial factor. “How difficult that is the experts themselves noticed,” remarked the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, “because during the hearing on the dangers of smoking, there was a relatively large amount of smoking going on right in the assembly hall.”
The Only Legal Building
In implementing an urban development program during 1985, several states in Nigeria embarked upon a cleanup campaign, including the demolition of illegal buildings. In the city of Lagos, hundreds of buildings classified as illegal structures were pulled down. Reporting on what occurred in one district, the Daily Times newspaper said: “Altogether, about 10,000 residents were believed to have been displaced . . . As the bulldozers set to work some men, women, and children scrambled to evacuate some belongings while others wept openly. At 1 p.m., only the Kingdom Hall of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, with approved plan DCB 0145149, was spared.”
Out of the more than 25,000 drugs marketed worldwide, “just some 200 drugs and vaccines are essential—needed to prevent and to treat the majority of the world’s diseases,” reports World Health magazine. “Indeed, less than 50 items are needed against infectious and parasitic diseases, even though the diseases account, according to World Bank estimates, for 40 per cent of all deaths in the Third World.”
Nasal decongestant inhalants are being used by a growing number of teenagers and young adults as a substitute for amphetamines. “It’s the poor kid’s cocaine,” says the medical director of a drug treatment center in Syracuse, New York, according to The New York Times. Abusers draw out the drug from the inhaler and inject it intravenously. Convulsions, strokes, infected veins, and respiratory and kidney failure can result from the injections, warn health authorities. “The drug is unpredictable,” cautions Dr. Martin J. Smilkstein of the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center in Denver. “People who are experienced users can suddenly drop dead.”