Watching the World
Bad News on TV
“Bad news for Brazilians who watch television: The amount of bad news in TV news is increasing,” claims the newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo. The paper reports that during a period of ten days, 15 journalists watched all the news on the TV channels. Only 18 percent of what they saw was classified as good news. The director of the institute making the survey is quoted as having said: “It was a 95-hour marathon of tragedies.” News about the economy and ecology was considered the most negative. The few optimistic items dealt with entertainment and sports. One psychoanalyst warns that such massive doses of violence and misfortune broadcast on the news can change people’s behavior, possibly causing some to view the tragedies of others as trivial.
Educators agree that a growing number of “morally illiterate” children are showing up in today’s society. “The fast track, the quick promotion, gaining control, gaining the edge,” are held before children as important values, according to Burle Summers, president of the Ontario Morals/Values Education Association. “Serving others, respecting others, caring for others isn’t considered as important,” he said.
Church Bells Jangle Nerves
“Church bells are ringing too often and too loudly” for some residents of west Toronto, reports The Toronto Star. The householders view church-bell ringing as “noise pollution” and have petitioned city hall about the matter. The city services committee recommended that the churches involved play the bells for one minute twice a day during the week and three times on Sunday—but never before 9:00 a.m. Church bells could ring on other occasions, such as weddings, funerals, and evening services during Lent. Church bells are rung to call parishioners to prayers and church services. However, local city dwellers say that alarm clocks can do the same thing without disturbing and waking up the whole neighborhood.
Sleeping Position Related to SIDS
Each year, SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) takes the lives of thousands of babies worldwide. It remains one of the primary causes of death among children during the first few months of life. The real cause of SIDS is still not known. However, the International Herald Tribune of Paris reports that medical experts from around the world recently met in Australia to discuss the problem. They advise parents: “Don’t let infants sleep on their stomachs.” Research seems to indicate that the risk of dying from the syndrome is at least three times higher for infants placed on their stomachs than for those who are placed either on their backs or on their sides. The doctors suggest that if parents were informed about the risks, thousands of lives could be saved.
An Australian clergyman has spoken out strongly about the escalating use and apparent acceptance of blasphemous expressions. He shows particular concern for the effect this has on young people, and he has called for a campaign to help eliminate blasphemy in contemporary speech. Brisbane’s Courier-Mail newspaper quotes the cleric as saying: “Such phrases as ‘Good God’, ‘Oh God’, ‘By God’, ‘By Christ’ and ‘Oh Christ’ are used more and more as expletives rather than as phrases of reverence. This is obvious in novels, on the stage, on the cinema screen, TV, radio and press. So long as we condone this irreverence, we cannot expect our young people to hold a sensitive respect for God and Christ.” He continued that he had noticed that the use of blasphemy had steadily increased over the years and that such speech is now considered by many to be a form of acceptable swearing.
Every year, throughout developing countries, pesticides poison about 25 million people and kill 20,000, according to New African magazine. Chemical companies unload dangerous pesticides in poor countries where farmers are ignorant of the dangers and where governments are unable to check imports adequately. New African reports that one Swiss chemical company recently admitted selling to Tanzania 476,000 quarts [450,000 liters] of an insecticide containing DDT, an extremely dangerous chemical banned or severely restricted in 45 countries. In rural Ghana, DDT is sometimes used to catch fish. The chemical is poured into rivers, killing the fish and making them an easy catch. The fish, still containing the active poison, end up in African meals.
Skin cancer among Canadians “has increased by 235 per cent in the past eight years,” reports The Toronto Star. New statistics reveal that 1 in 7 Canadians will develop skin cancer during his lifetime. What is the primary cause? Sun exposure, according to the Canadian Dermatology Association. Dr. Gary Sibbald, a dermatologist, claims that just “one blistering sunburn doubles your risk of developing skin cancer.” He adds: “A tan is not healthy. It represents skin damage.” According to The Globe and Mail, it can lead to “wrinkles, furrows, blotches, lesions and skin cancers.” Wearing a good sunscreen, protective clothing, and avoiding direct exposure between ten o’clock in the morning and three in the afternoon was recommended as a safeguard.
The Faculty of Theology of the Helsinki University in Finland has an organization representing homosexual students. Some 20 students have shared in the activity of this group called the Gay Theologians, reports Kotimaa, a major church journal. A representative of Gay Theologians explained that in Finland there are as many homosexuals among theologians and church officials as among the rest of the population. The exact figure is not known, but estimates vary from 4 to 10 percent. These students of theology are protesting that the church in Finland has not agreed to ordain those publicly acknowledging their homosexuality.
Help in the Home
Traditionally, Japanese men have not been known for helping with housework, but times are changing. A recent survey taken in Tokyo revealed that while men there generally still regard cooking, raising children, and washing dishes as women’s work, almost 60 percent believe that men should help with household chores. Some 70 percent claim that they often do such jobs as cleaning, shopping, and taking out garbage. Young husbands are the most willing to help; 60 percent of them agree that “men should share housework as much as they can,” and 29 percent claim that they “don’t mind helping.” “This helpful attitude among young husbands, however, does not last long,” said Mainichi Daily News, adding that “among the families whose first child is in elementary school, husbands who said they are willing to share housekeeping chores as much as possible decreased to 47 percent.” Moreover, the number of husbands in such families who asserted that it is unnecessary to help in the home rose to 13 percent.
TV and Cholesterol
Children who spend too much time in front of the television are damaging not only their minds but also their arteries. A recent study of 1,000 youths under 20 years of age revealed that children who watch between two and four hours of television a day are likely to have a much higher level of cholesterol than those who watch less. According to Prevention, a health magazine, Dr. Kurt V. Gold of the University of California-Irvine explains that “having high cholesterol at such a young age can increase chances for premature heart disease.” Dr. Gold says that “TV pulls many known risk factors together. You may end up sitting around all day eating too much junk food and not getting enough exercise.”
A recent report revealed that more than one third of the women giving birth in Costa Rica during 1990 were single. Almost 16 percent were under 19 years of age. The total number of babies born in Costa Rica that year was 81,939. Of these, 30,119 had single mothers, while 50,411 were born to married women. The rest were born to widows, divorcees, or women who were separated from their husbands. According to the San José, Costa Rica, newspaper La Nación, 360 babies had mothers under 15 years of age, and 12,578 had mothers between the ages of 15 and 19.