Watching the World
Three diseases cause nearly two thirds of the 13 million deaths among children in the developing world each year, noted the African newspaper Lesotho Today. These diseases are pneumonia, diarrhea, and measles. The report adds that such diseases could be treated or prevented by means that are available and affordable. For example, pneumonia, the biggest child killer, is responsible for 3.5 million child deaths a year. In most cases the problem is bacterial and can be controlled by a course of antibiotics that lasts for five days and costs 25 cents. Diarrhea claims three million young lives a year. About half of those deaths could be prevented if parents used an inexpensive oral rehydration therapy. Measles cause 800,000 child deaths each year. The report indicates that this could be prevented through vaccination. The measles vaccine costs less than 50 cents per child.
Death by the Gun
Out of every 4 deaths among young Americans, 1 involves a gun. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, as reported in the International Herald Tribune, guns kill more young people that are from 15 to 24 years of age than do all natural causes combined. Only motor vehicle accidents kill more people in that age group. During 1990, the most recent year for which statistics are complete, the number of teenagers shot to death in homicides, suicides, or accidents was almost 4,200. In 1985 the figure was about 2,500.
Can the Earth Be Rescued?
Nothing less than drastic changes in government policies and in people’s attitudes will rescue the earth’s ecosystems from destruction, according to a report from Worldwatch Institute. The report warns that if such problems as population growth, increasing carbon emissions, depletion of the ozone layer, vanishing forests, and erosion of topsoil persist, there will be too many people on this planet and not enough resources to sustain them. It also states that recycling and conservation programs alleviate the problem but that such measures are insufficient. For a significant solution, sweeping changes by government, industry, and the public are needed.
Red wine vinegar can prevent the spread of cholera, according to the Brazilian magazine Manchete. A test performed by the Food Institute of the Secretary of Agriculture and Supplies of São Paulo revealed that red wine vinegar is a hundred times more efficient than bleach in disinfecting contaminated vegetables. The magazine reports that vinegar reduced cholera bacteria on lettuce by 10,000 times while chlorinated water did so only by 100 times. The recommended solution is a mix of five tablespoons [70 cc] of vinegar for every quart [liter] of water.
Which sector of the population in Germany suffers most from stress? According to a study by the Medical Sociological Department of the University of Medicine at Hanover, “mothers as a whole are subjected to greater mental and physical strain and distress than any other sector of the population.” The Nassauische Neue Presse, which reported on the study, commented that “more than twice as many mothers visit the doctor plagued with feelings of tension, stomachache, anxiety, and disturbed sleep than members of other groups of the population.” Upon seeking medical advice, many mothers receive painkillers, tranquilizers, and other drugs. In some cases this leads to addiction.
“Charges laid by Canadian police against youths (ages 12-17) for violent offences have more than doubled in the last five years,” claims The Toronto Star. The violent acts are committed for no apparent reason. Simply making eye contact can initiate a violent act against an innocent bystander. It seems to be a matter of “violence for the sake of violence,” adds the Star. What is the cause? Some believe that there is a link between the incidence of youth violence and the violent scenes portrayed in movies and on television. “TV’s role is in desensitizing and conditioning our young, and in glamorizing violence as the preferred method of solving problems,” said the Star. Perhaps now more parents will want to control what their children view on television.
“Murder Capital of the World”
“Johannesburg has indeed achieved the dubious status of being the murder capital of the world,” states The Star, a South African newspaper. “According to police statistics, Johannesburg and Soweto combined had 3 402 murders in 1992—9,3 murders a day, or one every 2 1/2 hours.” This pushed Rio de Janeiro, the previous “murder capital” into second place. Rio averaged 8,722 murders each year for the past decade. However, Rio’s population is over 10 million, while the combined population of Johannesburg and Soweto is said to be 2.2 million. Paris, about equal in population to Johannesburg, had an average of 153 murders a year. The chances of being murdered were given as: 1 in 647 in Johannesburg; 1 in 1,158 in Rio de Janeiro; 1 in 3,196 in Los Angeles; 1 in 4,303 in New York; 1 in 6,272 in Miami; 1 in 10,120 in Moscow; and 1 in 14,065 in Paris.
Trouble in the Churches
“The problem of sexual abuse in the church is not going to go away,” reports The Toronto Star. Sexual scandals among church leaders are widespread. They are not limited to television evangelists and the Catholic Church. Abuse also “happens in the Salvation Army, in the United Church, in the Presbyterian Church,” noted a Salvation Army officer. Anglican Primate Archbishop Michael Peers said that such abuse is a “deep-rooted and dark” problem in the church. According to the Star, Archbishop Peers admitted that in the past this church’s response to charges of sexual abuse “has been denial and control.” Timothy Bently from the Toronto Centre for the Family reportedly stated that if “the churches do not face up to what is essentially a spiritual crisis openly and honestly their authority to preach on sexual ethics will crumble.”
Every day about 1,000 worshipers and some 70 tourists visit the Karni Mata temple in Deshnoke, India. Why? In that temple about 300 rats roam freely as devotees make their offerings to idols. The rats “are revered and their every need is tended to by doting worshippers,” says New Zealand’s Evening Post. The temple priests and the rats eat from the same bowls and drink the same water. One of the priests claims that “these are not rats, these are messengers of the God, a gift of the goddess to us.” According to the Post, the priest stated that when the temple priests die, they obtain salvation by being reborn as rats. When the rats die, he added, they are reborn as priests.
Discomfort in the Air
Travel by air has “become an increasing source of pain, discomfort and even illness among passengers and crew members in recent years,” claims The New York Times. After several hours of travel in cramped seats, travelers have reported blood clots in the lungs, backaches, colds, headaches, nausea, and pneumonia. Dehydration is another problem. “With the humidity level typically about 10 percent, the atmosphere on planes is drier than the Sahara,” says the Times. Symptoms of dehydration include thickening of the blood, undue fatigue, and soreness of the eyes. Also, dryness of the upper respiratory passages makes them more susceptible to infection. The newspaper recommends drinking a half pint [250 cc] of water for each hour of air travel to prevent dehydration.
Furor Over Incest in Ireland
The Dublin Rape Crisis Center says that the number of reported cases of sexual child abuse in Ireland has risen from 408 in 1984 to 2,000 in 1992. A brutal case of incest there has sparked a national furor. A father, addicted to a hard liquor called poteen, raped and assaulted his daughter repeatedly over a 16-year period and fathered a child by her. He blinded her in one eye by beating her with a stick. As is not uncommon in such cases, the victim’s mother knew of the incest but lied to the police to protect her husband; neighbors likewise knew of the girl’s plight but did nothing. Although the man pleaded guilty to charges of rape, incest, and assault, the judge considered the matter to be incest. The father was sentenced to seven years in prison, the maximum for incest, and he could be released after four. Outraged over the case, many Irish Catholics are calling on their church to make a specific pronouncement against incest.