Watching the World
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared tuberculosis a global emergency, warning that over 30 million people will die of the disease in the next ten years unless something is done to curb its spread. Although TB is preventable and treatable, the number of cases has risen sharply in recent years. Now, eight million people develop the disease each year. According to WHO, the resurgence of the disease is partly due to public-policy neglect and poorly managed control programs. Another factor in the increase is the strong link between TB and HIV infection (the virus that leads to AIDS). A person infected with HIV has a 25-fold increased risk of developing a potentially fatal case of TB. More than 95 percent of TB deaths occur in the developing world.
Parts of Bible in Over 2,000 Languages
The United Bible Societies (UBS) announced that during 1992, parts of the Bible have been translated into 31 more languages; so the total number of languages in which at least one book of the Bible is available reached 2,009. Soon, this number will increase further because the UBS is translating parts of the Bible into 419 additional languages. Complete Bibles are now available in 329 languages and the “New Testament” in 770 others. “Estimates of the total number of languages in the world,” writes Ecumenical Press Service, “range from 5,000 to 6,500.” Interestingly, as of 1993, the total number of Bibles produced in whole or in part by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., numbered over 83 million.
Useful Old Rubber Tires
In Brazil, 17 million car tires have to be replaced annually. However, the magazine Superinteressante reports that such old tires can be put to good use, namely, by recycling the rubber and mixing it with asphalt that is to be used to resurface highways. Although the concept of recycling rubber tires is not new, using tires in asphalt is. It is hoped that this procedure will “greatly reduce the enormous mountains of trash that accumulate on the planet.”
AIDS in Southern Africa
The spread of AIDS in the southernmost regions of Africa continues unabated. During 1992, more than 50 persons a day in South Africa were found to have been infected with the AIDS virus. As this does not include those living in that country’s densely populated independent states, the daily number of potential AIDS victims is much higher. The Star of Johannesburg, South Africa, reports that “the rapid spread of Aids through southern Africa is widely regarded as one of the most pressing challenges of the coming decade.”
Rabies, once eradicated from South Africa’s Natal province, is now escalating. In Natal and neighboring Mozambique, many have left the rurals and migrated to urban areas, bringing their pets with them. Vaccination programs have not been able to reach all these displaced people. In 1992 over 300 cases of rabies were reported in the area. Most of the resulting 29 deaths involved children. Paul Kloeck, regional director of veterinary services, notes grimly: “It is extremely difficult to reach the many people living in informal settlements.” He says: “Political violence, cultural objections and a fear of gatherings inhibit our programmes.”
Buddhism With Jazz
In an odd combination, a thousand Buddhist priests from all over Japan assembled with top jazz musicians in Tokyo’s huge Nippon Budokan to put on a concert of shomyo and jazz. Shomyo is basically the improvised singing or chanting of sutras, Indian style, far removed from Western music. Even with their different types of music, the jazz musicians had no difficulty in merging their music with the sutras. “I think improvisation is somehow closely connected to spiritual awakening in religion,” The Daily Yomiuri quoted a popular jazz pianist as saying. He added: “Sometimes I feel that I am not playing the piano but that some strange power from a different world is.”
Fear of Crime in Germany
Two out of 3 Germans consider extremist groups a danger to democracy in that country. Well over half the population would like to see the State take a firmer hand in dealing with violent demonstrators. Almost 50 percent agree that the police should resort more often to the use of truncheons and irritant gas. As for the fight against organized crime, nearly 60 percent approve of the use of bugging equipment for listening to conversations in private homes. Those were results of an opinion poll of almost 3,000 persons carried out late in 1992 by the Emnid Institute and reported on by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
Love Story Twist
Love stories dealing with “romance” between men have become popular in Japan during the last two years. The most avid readers are women, particularly from the teens to the early 20’s. Asahi Evening News says that this trend in novels is upsetting the country’s homosexuals. It quoted a homosexual writer, Masaki Sato, as saying: “In sexual descriptions of the teenage stuff, men are treated as objects of women’s curiosity.” He further complained: “Women object to images of women depicted by men in pornographic novels. Now (gays) are in a similar situation.”
In Italy every year hundreds of children disappear without a trace. Many leave home in the morning to go to school and never come back. In 1992 alone, 734 minors disappeared, 245 more than the previous year. According to a report by the Italian Ministry of the Interior, the total number of new cases opened was 3,063. More girls disappear than boys.
What Makes You Happy?
Evidently, having more money does not make people happier. Says the magazine Psychology Today: “Once above the poverty line, increases in income have surprisingly little relation to personal happiness.” The following factors are said to be important to happiness: an optimistic, though realistic, outlook; being outgoing and making friends; feeling in control of one’s life, which includes “effective management of one’s time”; and having “an active religious faith.”
Never Too Late to Quit
The sooner you quit smoking, the less likely you are to die of lung cancer. A recent study of 900,000 Americans, reports The Lancet, revealed the following. Among nonsmokers the number of people who died of lung cancer before the age of 75 was less than 50 per 100,000. For men who stopped smoking in their 30’s, the death rate rose to about 100 per 100,000. For those who quit in their 60’s, deaths increased to 550 per 100,000. Among smokers who did not quit at all, the number of lung cancer deaths was 1,250 per 100,000. Lung cancer death rates for women were lower but showed a similar pattern.
Mistakes in the Laboratory
Hundreds of thousands of people each year die or become seriously ill because of errors made in medical laboratories, states the World Health Organization. Labs play an important role in the testing of blood and human tissue in order to detect and confirm disease. False test results can lead to wrong diagnosis and treatment. In April more than 90 experts from around the world met in Geneva, Switzerland, to discuss the problem.
“By the turn of the century, there will be 21 ‘megacities’ with populations of 10 million or more,” says Time magazine. “Of these, 18 will be in developing countries, including some of the poorest nations in the world.” Thirteen countries are listed as already having ten million or more people in their metropolitan areas. Tokyo leads, with almost 26 million inhabitants, followed by São Paulo, New York City, Mexico City, Shanghai, Bombay, Los Angeles, Buenos Aires, Seoul, Beijing, Rio de Janeiro, Calcutta, and Djakarta. Some cities in Africa are growing by 10 percent annually—the swiftest rate of urbanization ever recorded—says the World Bank. Larger populations are often accompanied by increased pollution and the threat of disease.
Owners were given three months to claim any of the 1,800 objects retrieved from the Titanic, seven years after the sunken ship was located in the frigid waters off Newfoundland. Since the ship sank on its maiden voyage in 1912, most claimants are likely to be heirs of the 687 people who survived the tragedy or of the 1,513 who perished. The collection includes watches and various kinds of jewelry, coins, leather goods, and items for hairdressing. However, proof of ownership will be difficult, as few items are inscribed with names. Besides, anyone who wished to repossess an item and could offer proof of ownership would have to contribute toward the $5.5 million cost of the expedition, based on the market value of the object. Objects not claimed will become the property of the consortium that financed the project. Interestingly, none of the day-to-day objects recovered were made of plastic.