Watching the World
Voodoo Centers in Public Cemeteries
The city council and the mayor of São Paulo, Brazil, recently approved the free use of space at municipal cemeteries to serve as “voodoo centers,” according to Jornal da Tarde. Opponents mounted protests against these centers, claiming that Afro-Brazilian sects will use the cemeteries to perform ghastly animal sacrifices. Examples of animals found abused, mutilated, or killed included small dogs buried alive inside larger animals and cats and dogs with eyes gouged out. One government official noted that the sects did not come to Brazil voluntarily but that slaves who practiced these rites were brought by force from Africa. For this reason, he implied, voodoo sects should be respected.
The Killing Continues
According to JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), it is estimated that during World War I, no more than 19 percent of the people killed by warfare were civilians. By World War II, almost 50 percent of those killed in warfare were civilians. Since then, some 150 wars have been waged around the world. “It is estimated,” says JAMA, “that more than 80 percent of the 20 million killed and 60 million wounded have been civilians, many of them children. In the last decade alone, an estimated 1.5 million children have been killed and more than 4 million disabled by war.”
Disease and Death
Worldwide, some 50 million people die each year. Of these deaths, 46.5 million are directly associated with disease, according to WHO (World Health Organization). Infectious and parasitic diseases kill 17.5 million people annually. Cardiovascular diseases kill about 12 million. Cancer kills over five million. Hiroshi Nakajima, director-general of WHO, stated: “The tragedy is that there are at least 20 million deaths each year that could be prevented with improved health systems, access to essential drugs and vaccines, a healthier lifestyle and education.”
Cats and Birds
Researchers estimate that in Wisconsin, U.S.A., alone, house cats may kill more than 19 million birds in a year. A study in Britain shows that 5 million house cats kill about 20 million birds annually. In Australia, town officials in Sherbrooke Shire ordered residents to keep pets indoors at night, with a violation bringing a fine of $100, in an effort to stem the killing of rare birds. In the United States, some 35,000 cats are born every day. But as National Wildlife magazine reports, the “Wisconsin study found that 94 percent of cat owners wanted songbirds on their property and 83 percent wanted game birds, yet only 42 percent were willing to reduce the number of cats to benefit these wild species.”
Sports and Health
Experts warn that forcing the body to an unaccustomed high level of performance could make you sick. The European reported: “Research by medical scientists has revealed that top athletes are far more susceptible than others to viral infections like colds, sore throats and sores.” Klaus Braumann, a medical adviser to the German Olympic team, interviewed 481 top German athletes. According to the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, he found that they “suffer from cold sores on the lips [herpes simplex] four times as often as the average population.” Although it is estimated that in Germany about 10 percent of the population develop these blisters once in a while, there is about a 50 percent incidence among top athletes. “Each physical effort that exceeds a certain limit can weaken the immune system,” noted Heinz Liesen, an expert in sports medicine.
“The Paradox of Abundance”
At a recent meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, two UN agencies announced that they will unite their efforts in “one of the largest offensives ever undertaken against worldwide malnutrition.” The Paris daily Le Monde reports that the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization said that they would take action to overcome what they call “the paradox of abundance.” Although the earth produces enough food to satisfy the nutritional needs of the whole human family, the supply is not distributed in a way that harmonizes with these needs. In Africa, famine daily threatens the lives of 40 million persons. Malnutrition affects 192 million children, and 40,000 of them die each day.
“When parents smoke, their children will likely follow their example,” says the Paris newspaper Le Figaro. A recent study involving over 10,000 French youths from 11 to 18 years of age revealed that almost one fourth of them are regular tobacco users—meaning they smoke at least once every day. The study revealed that among tobacco-smoking youths, more than 50 percent have fathers who smoke. It also showed that almost 72 percent of the youths who are regular smokers wish they could quit.
Less Respect for the Aged
The population of old people in Asia is growing significantly. In Japan some expect the number of people aged 65 and older to grow from the present 15.5 million to 32 million within the next 30 years. According to Asiaweek, 1 in every 4 Japanese will be elderly by the year 2020. “More than 9% of Singaporeans have reached their 60th birthday. And by the turn of the century, roughly 1.5 million Malaysians will qualify as senior citizens,” added Asiaweek. This increase comes at a time when the old traditions of care and respect for the elderly have eroded. Henry Lim, an advocate for senior citizens in Singapore, stated: “There’s a trend of weakening respect towards older people.” He added that younger people often “have more time for the poodle than their parents.”
A Good Business
In Argentina, reports of animal and human sacrifices have people concerned. According to Clarín, there are 5,000 sects in Argentina, many of which delve into spiritism, Satanism, and other forms of occultism. The use of images is prominent among many of these sects. In Buenos Aires it is not unusual to find shops that display images of Jesus Christ and Catholic “saints” on the same shelves as statues of demons. One popular image is known as “Lucifer, the Great Captain and the most terrible among all the gods of evil.” Clarín notes that the suppliers of these satanic images distribute Catholic images as well. One shop owner admitted that the selling of Catholic images and satanic images is a “good business.”
Fear of Patients
The fear of contracting diseases from their patients may be seriously affecting the behavior of health-care workers, according to The New York Times. Many doctors are afraid of contracting AIDS or hepatitis by accidentally puncturing or cutting their skin with medical instruments while treating patients. Evidently this fear is not unfounded. A study conducted in a New York City hospital revealed that about 60 percent of the doctors who regularly treat tuberculosis patients have been infected with that disease themselves. Also, every year about 12,000 health-care workers contract hepatitis from their patients. Since the AIDS epidemic began, about 47 health-care workers in the United States have been infected with the disease by their patients.
Betel Nut and Cancer
“To chew or not to chew . . . that is the question.” The question, having to do with the chewing of betel nut, was raised in the Post-Courier, a newspaper in Papua New Guinea. Dr. Barrie Milroy, a specialist surgeon with experience in treating betel-nut chewers, noted that it “seems that two major problems in Papua New Guinea are endemic malaria and intra-oral cancer, the latter directly related to chewing of betelnut.” Even young children are among the many habitual betel-nut chewers. ‘If one chews betelnut it is a question not of whether, but of when, that one will get cancer,’ stated Dr. Milroy. He added that unless such ones quit, “there is not much help medically for them.”
“It’s one thing for counterfeit money to slip by an unsuspecting shopkeeper or even a bank teller. It’s quite another for it to fool sophisticated currency-handling equipment at the Federal Reserve,” notes The Wall Street Journal. Yet, someone has been producing $100 bills in U.S. currency that are doing just that. Called “exceptionally good,” the fake currency has been popping up all over the globe. The difficult style of printing using a raised impression, the cloth-based paper with its telltale red and blue fibers, and the distinctive magnetic ink have all been masterfully replicated. The fakes are so good that instead of following the usual procedure of charging the banks for the counterfeit notes they pass, the U.S. government is accepting the loss. Some officials fear that the bogus bills are the work of a terrorist group or an unfriendly foreign government.
Asthma Deaths Increase
“The number of persons who die of asthma attacks [in Germany] has increased dramatically,” stated the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung. According to the German Respiratory Tract League organization, in 1991 more than 5,000 persons died as a result of respiratory illnesses in that country. In the mid-1970’s, the corresponding figure was about 2,000 per year. Some 20 million inhabitants of Germany suffer from allergies, 1 in 3 from respiratory allergies.