Watching the World
Children of Misery
According to the Dutch magazine Internationale Samenwerking, a recent UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) report paints a grim global picture of millions of homeless, hurt, and hungry children abandoned by family and society. Internationale Samenwerking notes that despite a 1989 UN treaty outlining the rights of children, some 30 million homeless children are now roaming the world’s streets. Some seven million children are born and raised in the world’s refugee camps. And in recent years, 200,000 children younger than 15 years of age have been recruited as soldiers and in some cases have even served as living minesweepers to clear safe passages for the troops. In addition, every day some 80 million children, age 10 to 14, are forced to labor at heavy, unhealthy, and poorly paid jobs.
“Peace Declaration” From Hiroshima
“Remembering all too well the horror of this war, starting with the attack on Pearl Harbor and ending with the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we are determined anew to work for world peace,” said Mayor Takashi Hiraoka of Hiroshima on August 6, 1991, during services marking the 46th anniversary of the atom-bombing. He said in his “Peace Declaration,” according to Mainichi Daily News: “Japan inflicted great suffering and despair on the peoples of Asia and the Pacific during its reign of colonial domination and war. There can be no excuse for these actions.”
Alcohol and Heart Disease
Moderate drinking of alcoholic beverages cuts the risk of heart disease, claim scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health, as reported in the journal Lancet. The researchers believe that alcohol increases the amount of two types of HDL (high-density lipoprotein) in the bloodstream, the so-called good cholesterol. HDL appears to clear clogged arteries of fatty deposits, thus reducing cardiac disease. Alcohol may also help prevent blood clotting by lowering the levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein) in blood. High levels of LDL are a major factor in heart attacks. However, in the event a person does use alcoholic beverages, it is well that he use ‘only a little wine for the sake of his stomach.’—1 Timothy 5:23.
Pediatricians to Treat TV Abuse
“It is imperative that pediatricians take a more active role on television matters,” recommends Pediatrics magazine, adding that “they should instruct parents on the deleterious effects of television violence and other content inappropriate for children.” A recent Canadian survey of the television viewing habits of 311 families revealed that all owned at least one television set. In 16 percent of the households, it was left on all day long. The researchers noted that “many children are watching television without any limits being set by their parents and are witnessing violent scenes at an impressionable and vulnerable age.” Pediatricians were encouraged to warn parents of the risks of television misuse.
Churchmen and Prostitution
Two prominent Australian clergymen recently recommended a more tolerant view of prostitution. One, an Anglican bishop, called for it to be legalized, though he added that he did not approve of prostitution itself. Nevertheless, he felt that legalization was the best way to prevent the spread of disease and to protect “sex workers.” The other clergyman, however, said that he believed that prostitutes fill “a very positive role” in society’s stability. The Canberra Times newspaper quoted him as saying: “I think they [prostitutes] provide a place of comfort, a place of some degree of counselling and therapy for a lot of men whose lives would be a lot harder without it. Somehow it makes sense to recognise that. I believe Christ recognised it.” When asked whether he believed that a Christian could be a prostitute, the same churchman replied: “Yes I do. I don’t have a problem with that. There would be some very mature people who may see their role as a prostitute as a very comforting, counselling outworking of their sense of mission in life.” However, the Bible describes the prostitute as “a deep pit” that “hunts even for a precious soul.”—Proverbs 6:26; 23:27; see also Revelation 22:15.
In a recently published report, the UN Development Program denounced the incompetence of governments in the fight against poverty. Citing this report, the French daily Le Monde explains that in some developing countries, “armament expenditure is at least twice as high as that of health and education.” It noted that “military expenditures have risen three times as fast in developing countries as they have in industrialized countries.” The report states that “the money spent on ten days of the Gulf War would be sufficient to vaccinate every child in the world for the next ten years against diseases that respond well to vaccines.”
Beating the Traffic
The Ministry of Traffic in the Netherlands recently tried a different approach to the problem of rush-hour congestion, reports the German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung. For a trial period of one year, 31 employees at the ministry were allowed to stay at home and work there, using computers and fax machines. The coordinator of the project claims that the experiment was successful. Participants spent 25 percent less time in their vehicles and were more productive. The method was also cost efficient. Now the Ministry of Traffic is encouraging other organizations to try this approach, known in some places as telecommuting.
In the last few years, the white-tailed deer population in the United States has reached an estimated 25 million. In some states the number has tripled. The New York Times Magazine reports that “every year deer-related highway accidents do result in thousands of serious injuries to people, as well as millions of dollars in damages to cars and trucks.” In the state of Pennsylvania, for example, more than 40,000 deer are killed every year in highway collisions. There have been several cases of airplanes colliding with white-tailed deer on the runways of Washington’s Dulles International Airport. “Of major concern is the possible link between growing deer populations and Lyme disease, the fastest-growing infectious disease in the country after AIDS,” adds The New York Times Magazine.
Eating to Music
Researchers are studying the effect of background music on eating habits. In one study, they counted the bites of food people took at meals while listening to various types of music. The Tufts University Diet & Nutrition Letter reports that when no background music was played, the participants “ate at an average rate of 3.9 bites per minute,” with a third of them asking for more food after cleaning their plates. When “spirited tunes” were played, the diners “sped up to an average of 5.1 bites per minute.” The report adds that “calming flute instrumentals, on the other hand, slowed the pace to 3.2 bites per minute—and the bites became smaller.” In the latter instance, no one asked for second helpings. In fact, most left food on their plates, feeling full, and they claimed that the food tasted better. Reportedly, they also had “fewer digestive complaints.”
The number of women of childbearing age having legal abortions worldwide varies from 5 out of every 1,000 women in the Netherlands to 112 out of every 1,000 women in the Soviet Union. According to Demos, a bulletin published by the Dutch Demographic Institute, 40 percent of the world’s population now lives in countries without legal restrictions on abortions.
Canadian youths are involved in an estimated 2,000 bicycle accidents a year. Head injuries are the most serious and can include long-term problems with memory, concentration, and balance. “Sometimes the changes are temporary. Sometimes personality and potential are altered forever,” states The Toronto Star. For this reason the Canadian Medical Association and a pharmaceutical company “have launched a Canada-wide campaign to encourage young bicyclists to wear helmets,” reports the Star. The Medical Association claims that wearing protective headgear “reduces a child’s risk of a serious head injury by 85 per cent.” Yet, the Star notes that only 5 percent of children wear helmets while biking.