Watching the World
“Disastrous earthquakes,” similar to the killer that occurred in Armenia last December, “will become more frequent and more devastating in [the] future,” seismologists have warned. Why? As reported in New Scientist, “more than one-third of the world’s largest and fastest-growing cities are located in regions of high seismic risk.” Experts estimate that some 600 million people will inhabit these cities by the year 2035. Most earthquake deaths occur because of the collapse of buildings, and “in many cases, the new cities provide only basic shelter for people, rather than earthquake-resistant buildings,” says the report. “Poor countries are likely to bear the brunt of future earthquakes, but rich countries are far from immune. Even the best earthquake-resistant buildings may collapse.”
“Spain, once the pearl of Catholicism,” is no longer a “mighty fortress of religious belief and adherence,” notes the German news magazine Der Spiegel. “Young people see Catholicism as nothing more than a label.” Observers note that it has become a mere social rite, the ‘ornamental framework’ for family events such as weddings and funerals. “Even traditional Holy Week processions,” the article states, “are less expressions of piety and more a kind of holy folklore.” The decline can be seen in the statistics. The priesthood shrinks as less than half of the priests who die are replaced by new ordinations. Only one third of the populace regularly attend Mass or think that the pope is infallible. Contrary to Catholic teaching, most women use contraception, and over 100,000 abortions and 29,000 divorces occur yearly in Spain.
ACCIDENTS IN THE HOME
In France 12,000 lives are lost each year by accidents in the home. Most of them (70 percent) happen in the kitchen, and infants and children up to five years of age make up the greatest risk group, says the French daily Le Figaro. Falls, burns, electrocution, suffocation with plastic bags, and poisoning from toxic cleaning products were listed among the most frequent causes of home-related accidents. To reduce such risks “simple but firm orders” regarding what to avoid should be issued to the youngest children. Additionally, the article says: “Children cannot always tell the difference between positive and negative statements. They understand that something is forbidden mainly by the tone of the voice.”
NOT A MISSING LINK
It was just 50 years ago that the first living coelacanth was hooked by a fisherman. Thought by evolutionists to have been extinct for some 80 million years, it was hailed as a “living fossil.” It was also called the “missing link” between fishes and the first land animals, since it had features resembling lungs and rudimentary legs. “Today, however, there is a growing consensus among evolutionary biologists who have studied living specimens that coelacanths are not missing links,” says The Washington Post. The Post cites the British journal Nature as indicating that the “coelacanth features putatively linking it to land animals are probably only coincidentally similar. . . . Living coelacanths turned out to have no lungs.”
According to U.S. Department of Justice statistics, crime has become so entrenched in American life that 83 percent of the population will be victimized by violent crime at least once during their lifetime, and 40 percent will be injured during robbery or assault. What can the ordinary citizen legally do to protect himself when accosted on the street? Daily News Magazine recently put that question to people in New York, where crime reached new records last year. While most of the humorous responses involved acting eccentrically, of note was this printed reply: “Always have a generous supply of The Watchtower with you.” Evidently Jehovah’s Witnesses make an impression in many different settings.
“A NATIONWIDE HOAX”
Parents, doctors, and school officials in the United States have all been “taken in by a hoax,” reports The New York Times. They have copied and circulated letters, falsely accredited to a police department, warning parents of a new drug problem in the form of tattoos impregnated with LSD. Said to be distributed in the shape of blue stars or cartoon characters to appeal to young children, it was claimed that they were hazardous even to touch and could send a child on a “fatal ‘trip.’” “Our agency has studied this issue for the past three years and has surveyed over 400 law-enforcement agencies,” William Hopkins, director of the Street Research Unit of the New York State Division of Substance Abuse Services told Awake! “We . . . can assure you that the letter on Blue Star LSD that is being circulated is a nationwide hoax that is beginning to create hysteria among parents.”
ITALY’S SUICIDE INCREASE
On the average, 12 Italians take their own lives each day, reports the newspaper La Stampa. In the last ten years, the number of suicides has increased by 60 percent, one of the highest rates of increase in Europe. Why? According to sociology professor Ferrarotti, the number of suicides is directly proportional to the breakdown in human relations. In today’s highly competitive society, rivalry between individuals, even within families, has increased, often leading to profound loneliness. “In reality,” says Ferrarotti, “the greater number of suicides are actually attempted suicides that end in death by mistake. And the attempted suicides are really requests for help, for communication with others.” Is there any solution? “One must hope for . . . a society in which people will once again become considerate of one another,” says Ferrarotti.
“The lesson is irrefutable: Victory in modern war eventually favors the loser,” asserts the U.S. magazine Parade. Proof? Germany and Japan were both defeated in World War II. Since then, for over 43 years, both countries have been spared the costs of engaging in war and have succeeded in improving themselves economically. “The U.S., however, has fought in Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, Grenada, Libya and Lebanon. The Soviet Union has invaded Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Afghanistan. France has shed its military blood in Algeria and Vietnam, and Great Britain has gone to war with Argentina over the Falklands,” says Parade.
TOO MANY RABBITS
Farmers in the Australian outback have been under siege by starving rabbits that number into the millions. In fact, more than 200 million of the furry creatures are said to be swarming a 85,000-square-mile [199,000 sq km] area, eating whatever vegetation is in their path. Scientists are desperately seeking new methods to control their growth rate. A fatal virus known as myxomatosis has been successful in controlling similar rabbit plagues since its introduction 30 years ago. But the current rabbit population seems to be tolerating “even the most virulent strains” of the disease, reports The Australian, a national newspaper. Scientists fear a “severe impact on native vegetation and wildlife” from the tremendous surge of rabbits.
CORRUPTION REPORT CENTERS
China, in an effort to keep officials responsible and honest, is setting up corruption report centers across the country. “The aim is to encourage ordinary people to supervise the work of government according to law, and to provide the public with a means of exposing abuses of power by government departments and officials,” explains the magazine China Reconstructs. “Anyone in the country, Chinese or foreign, can register a complaint.” The centers were found to be necessary because recent changes provided officials with opportunities for increased corruption and criminal activities. Complainants are informed of the outcome of the case, and their names kept secret to prevent revenge. Such centers were scheduled to be established in every county of the nation by the end of June.
CLOSER TO GOD?
St. Peter’s Basilica of Rome has long been the world’s largest “Christian” church building. Challenging it, with 272 Doric columns and a 7.4-acre [3 ha] marble tile esplanade, is Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro, Côte d’Ivoire. The basilica alone is 623 feet [190 m] in length—about 20 feet [6 m] longer than St. Peter’s—with room for 8,000 to sit in air-conditioned comfort. Plans originally called for it to top St. Peter’s some 450-foot [137 m] height, with a cross rising almost 490 feet [149 m]. However, bowing to direction from Rome, the church “will be a little bit lower than the 137-meter-high Roman example,” notes the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Meanwhile, in Casablanca, Morocco, there rises what is claimed to be the world’s largest enclosed mosque, with a minaret rising over 500 feet [152 m] into the sky.