Watching the World
Blood Scandal Deepens in France
Investigations into the blood scandal in France have produced documents showing that government officials clearly placed economic considerations above the health and safety of French patients. According to the International Herald Tribune of Paris, the documents reveal that when an American laboratory discovered a blood-screening method for detecting the AIDS virus in blood supplies, French officials, fearful that the U.S. product would flood the French market, blocked sales “to give a French manufacturer time to catch up on development of a similar product.” As a result, hundreds of persons developed AIDS after receiving contaminated blood transfusions during the nearly seven months it took the French company to develop its product.
One “Devil” Less
A Tokyo couple named their newborn baby Akuma, meaning “Devil.” “It has such an impact that once you hear it, you never forget it,” the father said. “It is a name that will enable my son to meet many people when he grows up.” Local authorities at first agreed to register the name, but later deleted it as unacceptable and an abuse of parental rights, saying it would invite mockery and discrimination. After months of fighting in courts, the parents gave in and said they would register their son under another name, so as to get on with their lives and not leave the boy officially nameless. However that did not change things at home. “We will continue to call him Akuma as his everyday name,” the father said, and it is the name to which the baby responds.
Anger and Heart Attacks
“People with heart disease more than double their risk of heart attacks when they become angry, and the danger lasts for two hours,” reports The New York Times. While previous studies have shown a relationship between anger and an increased heart rate, increased high blood pressure, and clogging of arteries, this new study is the first to present scientific evidence that anger can immediately lead to a heart attack. The risk may be reduced by trying to remain calm while facing emotional conflicts, said Dr. Murray Mittleman, the principal author of the study. “The researchers also noted that people who take aspirin, which lowers the risks of heart attacks, were partly protected from the effects of angry outbursts,” the article said, possibly because aspirin reduces the ability of platelets to form clots and clog arteries. So it may be that anger affects the platelets, Dr. Mittleman said.
Sleep and Contact Lenses Do Not Mix
People who regularly wear their contact lenses while sleeping are eight times more likely to develop an eye infection than those who do not, according to a recent study. The researchers found that even careful lens-care hygiene does not protect against the excessive risk of wearing the lenses overnight, reports the International Herald Tribune. Overnight wear can cause the cornea, the eye’s clear outer covering, to become infected by germs and bacteria, regardless of lens type. By removing contact lenses before sleeping, wearers can reduce the likelihood of inflammation of the cornea by up to 74 percent.
Within 100 years, half of the 6,000 languages that exist today will face extinction, predicts Atlas of the World’s Languages. Some 1,000 tongues have already been lost in the past 500 years, mostly in the Americas and Australia. Many languages are no longer actively taught. In Alaska, where there are 20 native tongues, only 2 are still learned by children. Papua New Guinea has 155 languages that each have fewer than 300 speakers, while in Australia 135 of the 200 surviving Aboriginal languages are each spoken by fewer than 10 people. “It is not just the languages themselves that are disappearing,” reports London’s Independent newspaper. “Entire literary traditions, both oral and written; unique systems of grammar and vocabulary reflecting equally unique systems of thought and lifestyle; language as the cornerstone of thousands of human cultures: all will vanish, leaving the world immeasurably poorer in cultural terms.”
Russian aviation officials have acknowledged that an Aeroflot crew member was teaching his children how to fly when the jetliner crashed into a Siberian mountain in March, killing all 75 persons on board. “The crash happened because the pilot wanted to show his children how to fly a plane,” the Russian news agency Itar-Tass said. Western aviation officials, examining the plane’s flight recorders in France, said that “children’s voices could be heard and that no pilots were at the controls when the plane went down,” reports The New York Times. “The cockpit recordings prove that one or more children in the pilot’s seats accidentally disengaged the automatic controls and sent the jet into a fatal dive,” noted the Times.
Keeping Mites Down
Asthma and allergies have been increasing in Britain, reports The Times of London. The cause? Dust mites. “Never have human dwellings been so poorly ventilated—full of dirty, humid, allergen-laden air,” says Dr. John Maunder of the Cambridge Medical Entomology Centre. Dust mites live on skin fragments and are particularly at home in the humid environment of beds that have not been properly aired. Living and dead mites and their dung, along with skin scales and mold, can make up a tenth of the weight of a neglected pillow. The feces of the mites contain a protein that is believed to induce asthma attacks and also to be a predominant cause of allergic rhinitis—a blocked nose. Modern sealed homes just do not let in enough fresh air to suppress the mites. For healthier living, Dr. Maunder recommends sleeping with windows open when possible, airing beds daily, and regularly cleaning pillows, mattresses, and blankets.
Performance or Health?
“Generally, high level sports are committed only to improving their athletes’ performance, rarely to improving their health,” says orthopedist Victor Matsudo, as quoted in Veja. “No one needs to become an athlete to improve his health.” In fact, says Dr. Matsudo, “one who exercises immoderately tends to die earlier than the sedentary.” He adds: “Many people still have the idea in their head that proper exercise should be something hard, causing sweating and suffering. This is not true. Proper exercise is one of moderate intensity, which neither causes pain, discomfort nor cramps. . . . Walking is the first thing recommended for one who is sedentary and wants to begin working toward getting in good physical condition.” A person who walks for half an hour, two or three times a week, has a 15 percent less chance of dying than a sedentary person. Dr. Matsudo suggests that the walking be done on level ground and at a pace that permits one to breathe easily and talk with someone else.
A serial killer in the United States admitted to killing and dismembering 17 boys and men. For those crimes he is serving a life sentence in prison. But prison records show that he has received, as of March this year, over $12,000 from letter writers around the world from as far away as France and South Africa, including a donation of $5,920 from a London woman. “One woman said she wanted to teach [him] about Jesus, so she sent him $350, along with some Bible literature,” says The New York Times. “Another woman sent $50 so that [he] could buy ‘cigarettes, stamps and envelopes’ in prison.” He spent most of the money, even though the relatives of his victims have not received a penny of the more than $80 million in judgments obtained against him. According to the prison warden, no law forbids prisoners from soliciting financial assistance, as long as no fraud is committed.
Why Peace Attempts Fail
“The 35 wars that the world took with it into 1994 confirm Scripture’s dour prediction that there will always be wars and rumors of wars,” says a Toronto Star article. (This statement is inaccurate. In fact the Bible predicts that wars will soon cease. See Isaiah 2:2-4.) “All three dozen wars raging in the world today are fights within single states—none is a fight between states.” The intensifying of these civil wars points to the inability of world agencies to peacefully resolve disputes. “As long as aggrieved groups know that the UN cannot hold its member states to minimum standards of behavior and human rights, they will continue to resort to violence to press their claims,” the article notes. “There are virtually no post-World War II examples of the great military strength of Northern states being used successfully to end interstate or civil conflicts in the Third World or elsewhere.” In fact, the money still being spent preparing for interstate war actually helps contribute to the civil conflicts by using up funds that could have been used to improve the conditions that lead to civil wars.