Watching the World
“Of the 50 million deaths [worldwide] each year, 46.5 million are due to disease,” notes Newsweek magazine. “Infectious and parasitic diseases are the main killers (17.5 million), followed by heart disease, stroke and other circulatory ailments (11 million) and cancer (5.1 million).” In fact, says a report from the World Health Organization, over a billion people worldwide—or 1 in 5—suffer from disease at any given time. Many more, though not actively sick, are infected with potential ailments. These include 2 billion persons who have the hepatitis B virus, 30 million to 40 million with HIV, and 1.7 million with tuberculosis bacilli.
Pope Declares “Yahweh” to Be the Only God
“God Reveals His Name to Mankind.” So read a boldfaced headline across the top of the page in the Vatican journal L’Osservatore Romano. Under it was the text of a homily given by Pope John Paul II while visiting St. Leonard Murialdo Parish in Rome. “In the passage from Exodus, God lets us know his name,” began the pope. Then, after quoting Exodus chapter 3, verses 13 and 14, in which God told Moses to tell the Israelites, “I AM sent me to you,” the pope added: “This word, ‘I am’, which is also expressed in the word Yahweh, says that God is the existent and transcendent One . . . From this we are given to understand that Yahweh is none other than one, the only God.”
U.S. Rape Figures
The recently released National Women’s Study has found that in the United States, 683,000 women were raped in 1990. The estimate, based on interviews of 4,000 women, is five times larger than the figure of 130,000 attempted or completed rapes given for that year by the National Crime Survey. It was also found that only 16 percent of rape victims report the crime to the police, which accounts for the fact that only 102,560 rapes were reported in 1990. Most rapes were committed by persons known to the victims—relatives, neighbors, or friends. The survey also found that 12.1 million American women have been rape victims at least once in their lives. The majority, 62 percent, said that it occurred when they were minors, with 29 percent being under 11 years of age.
No Reason for Racism
With the aid of the latest advances in genetics, scientists have begun to unravel the information long hidden within man’s genetic code. What they have discovered has swept aside the traditional concepts about race, notes the French newspaper Le Figaro. Despite the seemingly infinite variety among mankind with all their visible external differences such as height, skin color, and other features, geneticists now agree that all people of the earth have undoubtedly descended from common parents and a common location in the not-so-distant past. “All the contrived explanations for advocating racism have been brought to nothing,” observes Le Figaro.
Quiet Revolution Empties Quebec’s Churches
The words “French Canadian” and “Catholic” have long been synonymous in Quebec. At one time the church was the only structured body in French-Canadian society, represented by the parish priest. Nearly everybody went to church. But “with the Quiet Revolution, the Quebecers have developed critical thinking toward the church,” says Le Journal de Montréal. “In less than 15 years, the Quebec church has lost what it had taken nearly 400 years to build.” While the church still marries 80 percent of the population and baptizes 89 percent of babies, at most only 30 percent of the population go to church. “People don’t feel obliged to practice [their religion] regularly,” admits priest André Lamoureux of the Montreal archdiocese. The new role of the church, reports Le Journal de Montréal, is a social one.
“Eye for an Eye”
Because jail sentences usually mean little to hardened offenders, Judge Joe B. Brown of Memphis, Tennessee, has taken a different tack when burglars come before him for sentencing. As reported in The Wall Street Journal, “he invites victims to visit the thief’s house and ‘steal’ something back. In a number of recent cases, the . . . Criminal Court judge has translated the Biblical eye for an eye into such things as two winter coats for a gold Rolex, and stereo speakers for a pair of bicycles. If a thief uses his own getaway car, that’s up for grabs, too, along with clothing, jewelry and other valuables.” His rules allow the victim to go to the thief’s home as often as it takes to offset the debt and at any time, day or night. However, there are specific guidelines. And a sheriff’s deputy goes along to make sure the goods taken have not themselves been stolen from others.
Beauty and Nutrition
“Nutrition and moisturizing of the skin depend on the quality of what people eat. The main cosmetic is still that of eating properly,” claims Ida Caramico, professor of pharmaceutical sciences of the University of São Paulo, Brazil. According to the Brazilian magazine Globo Ciência, pollution, toxic foods, emotional problems, excessive sunlight, and ironically, undue use of cosmetics cause the skin to age. In order to soften and regenerate the skin, the magazine suggests drinking at least eight glasses of water daily, along with a diet that includes sufficient quantities of fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain cereals. It adds: “Every external care may be used to improve the appearance, but no product—natural or artificial—surpasses the results of good nourishment.”
The old city of Jerusalem attracts not only thousands of tourists but also scores of mentally deranged persons who believe that they are Biblical characters or who are convinced that only they have the key to world peace and must reveal it at Jerusalem’s walls. “Christians tend to identify themselves as Jesus or the Virgin or, most commonly, John the Baptist, often breaking down at places associated with Jesus like Via Dolorosa and the Garden Tomb,” says The New York Times. “Jews lean toward Moses, King David and other Old Testament figures, and come apart on the Mount of Olives or at the Western Wall.” One tourist recently ran amok in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, yanking down a cross, breaking lamps, and trying to shatter a statue while yelling not to worship idols. Each year from 50 to 200 individuals suffering from what psychiatrists call the Jerusalem syndrome are taken to Kfar Shaul, a psychiatric hospital. Those who had a history of mental illness outnumbered those who did not by 4 to 1, and males outnumbered females by 2 to 1.
Gold in the Trash
Thanks to modern technology, an Italian firm now extracts precious metals from industrial refuse. According to Il Messaggero, a plant in the city of Arezzo, Italy, receives waste from different parts of the world and extracts from it gold, silver, and other precious elements. The items yielding the precious metals include photographic paper, wrapping foils, microchips, discarded cameras, computers, and other electronic devices. Il Messaggero reports that this one plant in Arezzo alone recovers a yearly average of some 120 tons of gold, 200 tons of silver, 4 tons of palladium, one ton of platinum, 220 pounds [100 kg] of rhodium, and small quantities of iridium and ruthenium.
In Proper Perspective
People in countries where income is low are not necessarily faring badly. The New York Times reports that in China the per capita income is only $350 a year. A middle-aged couple in Guiyang, for example, have a combined salary of less than $42 a month—she as a teacher and he as a factory technician. However, their actual income is more than double that, about $85 a month, due to bonuses and subsidies and a stipend for having only one child. Though their income is still low, so are their expenses. They pay no taxes or medical bills. The rent for their apartment is less than a dollar a month, and heat and electricity are provided free. Food prices are also relatively low, taking up $37 a month from their budget. Clothing needs require another $19. This enables them to save $10 or so each month—a seemingly modest amount toward future years. But they have no fear of layoffs and know that their medical expenses will be paid and a pension given to them in their old age.
Sexually Active Students
Concerned over the rise of sexually transmitted diseases and the risk of AIDS for young people, the CDC (U.S. Centers for Disease Control) made its first survey of the health habits of high school students in grades 9 through 12 (ages 14 to 18) in all 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The results, published this year, show that 54 percent say they are no longer virgins. “We’re particularly concerned about the increase at each grade level,” said Dr. Lloyd Kolbe, director of the Division of Adolescent and School Health at the CDC. According to the survey, 40 percent of the students in the 9th grade have had sex, 48 percent in the 10th grade, 57 percent in the 11th grade, and 72 percent by their senior year. One out of every 25 students admitted to having a sexually transmitted disease.