Watching the World
1991 Off to a Bad Start
A succession of disasters worldwide in the first few months of the year have strained the capabilities of relief organizations. “Not since the end of World War II have so many people in so many different continents faced such devastation,” said U.S.News & World Report. Soviet Georgia was hit by three earthquakes. One also struck Costa Rica and Panama. Tornadoes in the United States flattened parts of Kansas and Oklahoma. A cyclone with winds of 145 miles per hour [230 km/hr] battered Bangladesh for eight hours, killing at least 125,000 people and leaving millions homeless. “Coupled with demands in the Persian Gulf region and in Africa, where starvation already threatens 14 million Ethiopians and Sudanese alone, these new tragedies have left organizations scrambling,” reports the magazine. Said one Red Cross official: “I don’t know what I’ll wake up to next.”
Earthquakes caused nearly as many deaths last year as during the entire previous decade. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, more than 52,000 fatalities from earthquakes were reported in 1990, as compared with some 57,500 who died from earthquakes between 1980 and 1989. This was the highest annual toll since 1976. Most of the deaths occurred in a single quake of magnitude 7.7 that hit Iran in June, killing an estimated 50,000 and injuring 60,000 others. The report listed 68 large earthquakes for last year, 8 more than the previous year.
Pharmacy Students and Drug Abuse
First-year pharmacy students attending the University of Texas at Austin in the United States were told that nationwide, pharmacy students have the highest rate of drug abuse of all professional schools. Why? “I really don’t know,” says Assistant Pharmacy Dean Arlyn Kloesel. “But caring professions have a tendency to attract that type of person. And it’s not the poor student. It’s generally the good student, the student leader . . . that ultimately ends up with the problem.” Students were advised that before addicts or alcoholics can be helped properly, they must admit that they have a problem and then be willing to get help.
Violent Crime Soars in the United States
“Violent crime, much of it drug-related, is on the rise in virtually every city in America,” says Newsweek magazine. “Guns, including paramilitary assault weapons, seem to be everywhere—even in the hands of children.” Murders hit a new record last year. An estimated 23,200 people were killed, 60 percent of them by use of firearms. “During every 100 hours on our streets we lose three times more young men than were killed in 100 hours of ground war in the Persian Gulf,” laments Health and Human Services Secretary Louis Sullivan. This is so despite the fact that the United States has the world’s highest incarceration rate at 426 inmates per 100,000 population. Murder is now the leading cause of death for black males between the ages of 15 and 24. Why has crime escalated so? According to experts, “crime rates rise when social controls—the family, the church, the neighborhood, and all the invisible bonds of a coherent community—break down,” states Newsweek.
Animal Health Care
The world of pet medicine includes everything from “sophisticated surgery to supervised weight control programs, dental care and behavior counselling,” reports The Toronto Star. “Having an animal today is very, very expensive,” said a nurse. Treating a large dog’s broken leg could cost more than $700 (Canadian). Be prepared to pay $800 and up for the treatment of an inflamed liver. A kidney transplant can easily exceed $5,000. Behavioral counseling runs $100 an hour. Animal health services also include maternity wards, intensive care facilities, use of acupuncture, electrocardiograms, cataract removal, root-canal work, and even pet insurance.
Forests Vanishing Faster
“The earth’s tropical forests are vanishing 50% faster than previously estimated,” reports Perspectives, the bulletin of the International Institute for Environment and Development. Instead of the estimated 27 million acres [11 million ha] a year, data gathered by the World Resources Institute now shows that “16 to 20 million hectares [40 to 50 million acres] of tropical forests may be stripped each year.”
End of Number 666
“Britain has dropped the Satanic number 666 from auto license plates,” reports the publication Leaders. According to Annette Welsh, spokeswoman for the British Department of Transportation, drivers complained that the number was responsible for their accidents. One Welshman said that a week after he was issued the number, his water supply was poisoned, his house was burglarized, and his car was demolished by a truck. Actually, Revelation 13:18 applies the number 666 to a symbolic wild beast representing the world’s political system and does not associate it with accidents or similar personal incidents.
AIDS on the Increase
The grimmest AIDS prediction yet has recently been released by WHO (World Health Organization). By the year 2000, the projection shows, 10 million children and 30 million adults will be infected by the AIDS virus worldwide. It is estimated that by then ten million people will be full-blown AIDS cases and that deaths from the disease will orphan some ten million children. Only a year ago, WHO placed the number of AIDS cases at 5 million children and 25 million adults. The predictions were revised when studies showed that the virus was spreading at an alarming rate in parts of sub-Saharan Africa and in Asia.
Weight Gain in Smoke Quitters
What many smokers fear most about quitting is that they will gain weight. Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control in the United States found that the average smoker who quits cigarettes gains from six to eight pounds [3-4 kg] over a five year period. “From a health point of view, the weight gain is pretty moderate,” said the director of the study. However, the health benefits far exceed any risk from the extra weight.
Less Salt Beneficial
Reducing salt intake by one tenth of an ounce [3 g] per day can lower the incidence of heart disease by 16 percent and that of strokes by 22 percent in Western countries, London researchers say. The reduction would have more effect than drug treatment. Publishing their results in the British Medical Journal, the researchers from St Bartholomew’s Hospital Medical School, London, advise manufacturers to cut down on the amount of salt in their products. If salt was left out of processed foods, they say, heart attacks could be reduced by 30 percent and death by strokes by 39 percent, preventing 65,000 deaths a year in Britain alone. People are advised to reduce their salt intake by not adding salt at the table and by avoiding salty foods.
Airline Terrorism—No Solution Yet
“Technology aimed at thwarting terrorist attacks on commercial airliners still cannot deliver what scientists had hoped,” notes New Scientist magazine. “After several years of experimentation, no detector system meets the minimum requirements set by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).” The agency wanted a system that would scan ten bags a minute, detect “several pounds” of explosives 95 percent of the time, yet have a false-alarm rate “approaching” 1 to 2 percent. However, X-ray machines and metal detectors cannot detect the “terrorist’s current weapon of choice”—plastic explosives. A plastic explosive was used to blow up a Pan American jet over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988.
Another Reason Not to Smoke
It is already known that cigarette smoking increases the risk of heart attacks. Studies now show it may “also block the discomfort that signals heart disease,” says Health magazine, and diminish perception of pain. “If cigarettes retard pain perception, you could have massive injury to your heart before getting medical help,” says Dr. Michael Crawford, chairman of the American Heart Association’s Council on Clinical Cardiology.