Watching the World
For years the synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hannover, Germany, has allowed homosexuals to function as members of the clergy as long as they do not have a homosexual partner. But according to the publication The Week in Germany, the removal of an active homosexual from his clerical duties more than three years ago has created much controversy. Authorities in Hannover, according to The Week, have recently approved a proposal stating that “pastors and their companions who ‘live in single-sex partnership’ would be eligible for employment in the church, including the pastorate.”
Accidents With AIDS-Tainted Blood
Recently Japan’s Health and Welfare Ministry asked hospitals to submit reports on the frequency of accidents with HIV-infected blood involving medical workers. The interest was specifically in accidents during the past ten years. According to The Daily Yomiuri, the 276 hospitals that responded reported that the “total number of needle accidents was 12,914, with 2,997 cases of accidental blood contact.” Of these, over a hundred cases involved HIV-tainted blood. All the victims of these accidents have thus far tested negative for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
Cancer—A Ticking Time Bomb
A study in Australia by the Skin and Cancer Foundation revealed that skin cancer is now the most common form of cancer in that country. It is estimated that every year some 1,000 Australians die of skin cancer. According to The Daily Telegraph Mirror of Sydney, Australia, the study says that “the carefree attitude of many Australians to sun care in the past has created a ticking cancer timebomb.” Most of today’s victims were the teenage sunbathers of the ’60’s, ’70’s, and ’80’s.
Help for Insomniacs
Researchers at Harvard Medical School have compiled a list of suggestions for people having serious difficulty falling asleep. According to The Harvard Mental Health Letter, a group of patients who had needed about 80 minutes to fall asleep experienced significant improvement. After trying the treatment for several weeks, “it took them an average of only nineteen minutes to fall asleep (a 75% reduction),” notes the letter. The recommended methods include: Avoid spending more than seven hours in bed; avoid staying in bed more than an hour beyond your average sleeping time; arise at the same time every day, including weekends; go to bed only when sleepy; and if you do not fall asleep within 20 minutes after going to bed, get up and do something relaxing until you feel sleepy again.
A group of more than 20 comet fragments, which appear in telescope photographs like a string of pearls, are on a collision course with the planet Jupiter, reports The Washington Post. The comet chunks, some of which may measure perhaps two miles [3 km] across, are collectively known as Shoemaker-Levy 9, after the discoverers. Scientists believe that the comet string was produced when a lone comet was torn to pieces by gravitational forces as it recently flew by Jupiter. The impacts of the comet fragments, a rare event for human observers, will occur over several days in late July 1994. Although the impact will take place on the backside of Jupiter, the resulting flashes may brighten the moons of Jupiter and may be observable from Earth through telescopes.
Violence Against Women
A recent survey reveals that 51 percent of Canadian women 16 years or older have been victims of male violence at least once in their adult lives, according to The Globe and Mail. That amounts to more than five million women. This Canadian newspaper reported that almost half the women interviewed said assaults came from “boyfriends, husbands, friends, family members or other men familiar to them.” Ten percent of the women surveyed were victimized in the past year alone, and about 1 attack in 5 was serious enough to cause physical injury. Many women reported being pushed, grabbed, shoved, slapped, kicked, bitten, or hit by their husbands or live-in male partners.
Thousands of Plants Ignored
“Several thousand plant species have been used for human food in history, but now only about 150 are cultivated and no more than three supply almost 60 percent of the calories and protein derived from plants,” says the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. International agricultural studies confirm this. Humans stick to their familiar staples—rice, maize, and wheat—ignoring thousands of other nutritious plants found in nature.
Little Power Over Their Own Lives
Despite recent changes favoring democracies, 90 percent of today’s world population have no say in the factors that shape their lives. That is a conclusion of the Human Development Report 1993, issued by the UN Development Program (UNDP). Former UNDP administrator William Draper, in a foreword to the report, said that life for the majority is still shaped by continuing “struggles for access to the ordinary opportunities of life—land, water, work, living space and basic social services.” The report notes that “ethnic minorities, the poor, rural dwellers, women, and the disabled often have little power to change their lives.”
Pocket-Size Video Rosary
An Italian Catholic priest has patented an electronic video Rosary complete with music and moving religious images. According to the Bologna daily newspaper Il Resto del Carlino, the device, which is battery powered, is “simple and handy (fitting conveniently into a pocket or handbag).” For those who want to recite prayers while driving, there is also a “special adapter that can be plugged into the car cigarette-lighter attachment.” The believer can choose the part of the Rosary he wants to recite. The “Ave Maria” button, for example, enables the user to proceed step-by-step in the various phases of the prayer, the words of which are displayed on the screen. “Should someone get tired before finishing all the prayers,” says Il Resto del Carlino, he can switch the device off and, thanks to the electronic memory, “continue from where he left off when it is switched back on.”
The Coldest Spot in the Universe
The coldest temperature in the entire universe was recently measured at 0.000,000,000,28 Kelvin. This extremely low temperature is a tiny fraction of a degree above absolute zero. Where was this very cold temperature experienced? In the Nordic country of Finland, according to the magazine New Scandinavian Technology. Yet, most people in Finland were unaware of this event, since the low temperature was achieved artificially in the Low Temperature Physics Laboratory at the Helsinki University of Technology. Scientists have never been able to achieve absolute zero, which is described in New Scandinavian Technology as “the temperature that marks the absence of all thermal movement within atoms.”
Value of Window View
According to a study by researchers at the University of Michigan, U.S.A., employees with a window view perform better. Contrary to popular belief, having a view does not necessarily encourage daydreaming. The magazine Business Week reports that a 1,200-person survey revealed that “workers with views of the outside world show more enthusiasm for their jobs, less frustration, more patience, better concentration, and fewer physical ailments.” In contrast, workers in windowless cubicles are likely to be “less imaginative and more irritable” and have more problems with concentration.
“Educational toy sales skyrocket as parents trade in plain fun for future competitive edge,” notes The Globe and Mail, a Canadian newspaper. The report adds that some parents are even preventing their children from playing with toys that are “simply fun to play with. Instead, they want every moment of play to be packed with the potential to teach skills.” While many believe that this trend can produce children with higher intelligence and better skills, some experts disagree. They feel that robbing children of valuable unstructured playtime will stifle their creativity “and that they will learn less in the end,” says the newspaper.
Piracy on the Rise
The London-based International Maritime Organization, a United Nations agency fighting piracy and armed robbery of ships, reports that piracy has “increased substantially in recent years both in number and brutality to crew members.” Although most of the 400 reported incidents of piracy took place in Southeast Asia’s Strait of Malacca, pirates are also prowling along the western coast of Africa and the northeastern coast of South America. Piracy, writes UN Chronicle magazine, “threatens to become a worldwide problem.”