Watching the World
Despite promising smiles and handshakes for global disarmament by the superpowers this year, military spending worldwide is approaching the one-trillion-dollar mark. “Between 1960 and 1980, world expenditures for military purposes almost doubled in real terms—today estimated at in excess of $900 billion a year,” states the UN Chronicle. The report predicts that if present trends in the arms race continue, the trillion-dollar figure will soon be reached. The arms merchants must continue to rejoice.
Crack Use and AIDS
“Health experts are becoming increasingly concerned that crack use in poor neighborhoods may be accelerating the spread of AIDS among heterosexuals,” reports The New York Times. How so? “Both male and female users of crack often experience extremely exaggerated sexual desires and diminished inhibitions during crack binges,” leading to sex with strangers, previously avoided sexual practices, and exchanging sex for drugs. The result has been a sharp rise in syphilis cases, and those “infected with syphilis are more likely to spread or contract AIDS.” Many of the men who frequent the crack houses (similar to the old-time opium dens) have used drugs intravenously and are infected with the AIDS-causing HIV virus. “The logical chain goes crack, syphilis, HIV,” says New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Stephen C. Joseph. “There are now some very strong indications that crack and other forms of cocaine are a driving issue in HIV transmission.”
Youths and Credit Cards
Credit cards have become the latest teenage fad and are now “the youth status symbol,” reports The Sun-Herald newspaper of Australia. A January study showed that 50 percent of Year 10 students in one school and as many as 80 percent in another school had a credit card. A few had auxiliary cards to their parents’ credit cards, with limits as high as A$10,000! At the same time, consumer debt exceeded A$23.4 billion—the equivalent of $1,500 for every man, woman, and child—mostly from unpaid credit-card bills. Unable to handle the financial difficulties resulting from overspending, increasing numbers of Australian youths are filing for bankruptcy. In 1987 young people between 18 and 25 made up 16.8 percent of voluntary bankruptcies, and the figure is expected to be much higher this year. Said one official: “The problem is on the same level as alcohol, road deaths and tobacco abuse among youngsters.”
Babies Born Drunk
In Ireland pediatricians and nurses are seeing numbers of babies born “blind drunk.” The Addiction Research Foundation newspaper, The Journal, reports that “the drunken babies must spend the first few days of their lives in intensive care units suffering from the effects of overindulgence.” Excessive alcohol in the baby’s system is due, in part, to the traditional practice by overdue mothers of indulging in large doses of alcohol as a means of inducing labor. These newborns suffer from hangovers, and some nurses say they “actually smell drink” on a few of the babies. But, as one doctor said, the nutritious diet of most Irish mothers does afford the babies some protection.
World’s Oldest Population
According to a computer projection, Japan may have the world’s oldest population by the year 2020. Japan’s 1985 census showed that the number of Japanese 65 years old or older was around 12.5 million, accounting for about one in ten of the population. The average life span in that year was 74.9 years for men, 80.6 years for women. However, the computer projection, conducted by the Population Research Institute of Tokyo’s Nihon University, estimates that by the year 2020, 31.5 million Japanese will be senior citizens, or about one in four of the population. It has also been calculated that the average age would increase to 78 years for men and 83.6 years for women by the year 2025.
Deadly Sexual Addiction
Sexual addiction is a “chronic illness” that is often misdiagnosed in the treatment of drug-dependent patients, reports the Addiction Research Foundation newspaper, The Journal. One doctor, who is also a founder of a cocaine hot line in the United States, claims that “up to 15% of his cocaine-addicted patients are also sexual addicts.” Sexual addiction includes compulsive behavior at various levels, from compulsive masturbation to sexual fetishes, to sadomasochistic practices, and to compulsive heterosexual and homosexual encounters. The Journal continues: “It is the compulsive behavior that is a major factor in the spread of AIDS”—the disease of almost certain death.
Pope Bemoans Lack of Faith
On his recent visit to Austria, Pope John Paul II gave “a more critical analysis of faith in Austria” in his discourse to the bishops than in his sermons to the public. According to the Austrian newspaper Oberösterreichische Nachrichten, the pope stated that “it is a result of affluence and religious indifference that secularization has advanced to such a degree in the life of the individual, within the family and, most of all, in public life.” Austria needs a “new evangelizing campaign,” said the pope.
“Office work . . . has never been regarded as particularly hazardous . . . , but it may not be particularly healthy either,” says Time magazine. “Despite bright, well-scrubbed appearances, many of today’s workplaces are aswirl with noxious pollutants.” The problem is indoor air pollution, or “sick-building syndrome,” affecting “an estimated one-fifth to one-third of U.S. buildings.” It can cause such symptoms as watery eyes, stuffy heads, headaches, nosebleeds, workers’ falling asleep, and “that just-plain-lousy feeling.” Poor ventilation in buildings where most or all of the air is recirculated or where design flaws have placed air-intake ducts over polluted areas is usually the cause. Additionally, there are the chemical irritants that come from cleaning solvents, carbonless paper, copier-machine liquids, and even from paints, draperies, rugs, and wall paneling. “Pollutants in the indoor environment can cause a serious health risk,” says Eileen Claussen of the United States Environmental Protection Agency. “The air in some office buildings is 100 times as polluted as the air outside.”
In the city of León, Mexico, scorpions are stinging more than 100,000 persons annually, reports The Mexico City News—the highest rate in the world. About 60 billion pesos are spent each year to care for the victims of scorpion stings. Within the last five years, nine deaths have been attributed to the scorpion’s sting among victims who failed to use antiscorpion-sting serum. According to Manuel Dahesa Damila of the University of Guanajuato, León is known as the “scorpion capital of the world.” A scorpion’s sting injects deadly toxins into humans. Why the rise in scorpion attacks? The accelerated growth in León’s population is thought to be the reason for the increase.
Illegitimacy in Vogue?
“So many children are now born out of wedlock in Europe,” observes Britain’s Economist, “that in some countries babies born to married couples may soon be in the minority.” The reason? “A change in the moral climate is a big part of the explanation,” says the magazine. Since premarital sex has become more acceptable in today’s society, illegitimate children have also. Unwed mothers no longer carry a social stigma as in past generations. Thus, in Sweden, Denmark, and Iceland, almost half the babies are born out of wedlock. In Norway, Austria, France, and Britain, it is one in four or five. And even in the deeply religious country of Ireland, more than one baby out of ten is illegitimate.