Watching the World
How Many Abortions?
“In the world some 33 million legal abortions take place annually, and if all the illegal abortions are added to this, the total would come to be between 40 million and 60 million,” says the Buenos Aires morning newspaper Clarín. “Seventy-six percent of the world’s population live in countries where induced abortion is legal.” The number of lives terminated by abortion is more than the population of Argentina and comparable to wiping out the entire population of a country such as Britain, Egypt, France, Italy, South Africa, or Turkey each year. It compares to the toll of victims of the entire six years of the second world war, estimated to be about 50 million people.
Best Place to Live?
Canada has been judged by the United Nations as the best place in the world to live. “It’s the second time in the five years the index has been compiled that Canada has topped the list of 173 countries,” reports The Toronto Star. It adds that this “does not mean Canadians enjoyed the highest standard of living in the world, however.” Why was Canada considered the best place? The report, prepared by the UN Development Program, ranks countries by three factors combined: average income, educational attainment, and life expectancy. The Canadians ranked sixth in longevity, with an average life span of 77.2 years. Canada was near the top when it came to money spent on education and health care, as well as in ownership of such items as television sets and automobiles.
Brazil’s Indian Groups
“Brazil still has 59 Indian groups totally isolated, or with sporadic and unfriendly contact with white men,” reports O Estado de S. Paulo. “Of this total, only nine groups have been identified since the beginning of the ’80’s by the National Indian Foundation.” New tribes continue to be found in the Amazon forests. Most of the isolated Indians live in groups of 150 persons or less. Brazil has 532 Indian areas, 180 different ethnic groups, and 260 thousand Indians. They occupy a total of 351,000 square miles [909,705 sq km]—about 11 percent of Brazil’s territory—although half of these areas do not have fixed boundaries. In an effort to help tribes forge bonds and survive the encroachments of the modern world, anthropologists have been teaching tribal members how to use a video camera so that they can record village customs and share the tapes with other groups nearby. Recently, after viewing films of each other, the Waiapi and Zo’é met. Speaking similar dialects, they discussed their legends and rituals, as well as their methods of hunting, healing, cooking, and weaving.
A Successful Operation
With “entirely legitimate pride,” says the Italian newspaper La Stampa, the medical team that operated on Pope John Paul II in April stated that the hip surgery “could not have turned out better.” But operations performed on the present pope have not always had the best results. When he was operated on following the 1981 assassination attempt, John Paul II had to stay in the hospital for two months to be treated for an extremely serious cytomegalovirus infection brought on by blood transfusions. Thus, it is not surprising that, although this time, according to La Stampa, “blood loss was abundant,” no transfusions were administered. Instead, the paper notes, “the Pope’s blood was recuperated, sterilized, and retransfused during the operation.”
No AIDS Cure in Sight
The 10th International Conference on AIDS, held in Japan in August of last year, acknowledged that efforts to create vaccines to prevent AIDS and to create drugs to treat it have mostly failed, and none are expected by the end of the decade. “We are only at the beginning of the H.I.V. epidemic in the world,” said Dr. James Curran of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. Some 17 million people around the world were said to be infected, 3 million more than the preceding year. Sadly, one million of this number were children. If the same rate continues, a total of from 30 million to 40 million people will be infected by the year 2000, says the World Health Organization. Full-blown cases of AIDS increased by 60 percent in 12 months, bringing the mid-1994 total to four million, including those who have died. It can take up to ten years between the time of infection with HIV and the beginning of AIDS symptoms. Because of the slow progress in battling the growing pandemic, it was announced that the AIDS conference would be held every two years instead of yearly, with the next meeting scheduled for July 1996 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Children Affected Early in Life
“A child’s predisposition toward the world is hugely dependent upon the degree of nurturing that he or she receives before the age of 3, which in turn has an effect on neurological development and a child’s confidence and ability to solve problems creatively,” reports The Globe and Mail of Toronto. “Youngsters living in depressed economic and social circumstances have less chance to grow into productive, well-adjusted adults.” According to Dr. Fraser Mustard, president of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, such children are more likely to drop out of school and lean toward settling problems with violence. “How well you develop coping skills has an enormous impact on your ability to plug into the system,” he said. The Globe states that studies by Yale University and the University of Montreal show that “meaningful parental interaction with children is of huge benefit to a youngster’s physical, cognitive and emotional development.”
Be Attentive While Traveling
When traveling, pay attention to what is happening around you. “Baggage thieves and pickpockets have an irresistible preference for absentminded travelers,” informs Brazil’s Claúdia magazine. Likewise, “if anyone bumps into you or spills something on your clothes, keep alert. These are notorious tricks to divert attention.” Also, be on guard if someone asks for information or help. A slight distraction may cost you your luggage. According to Adriano Caleiro of São Paulo’s International Airport, special attention is needed when presenting suitcases while checking in at an airport, signing papers at the car-rental counter, checking in or leaving a hotel, settling children into a taxi, looking at store windows, or having a cup of coffee. The magazine warns you to change locks immediately if your keys are stolen. The thief may say he found your luggage and even return all that was lost, but he may have made a duplicate set of keys so that he can invade your home later.
No Harm Intended
Guests visiting Japan who see signs saying “No Foreigners” should not get upset and angry, says the Japan Helpline, which looks into complaints. Most of the signs are put up by people actually trying to be helpful. An example of this way of thinking is this explanation given by the owner of a small electronics shop in Tokyo’s Akihabara area: “Since I cannot speak any [foreign languages], I have been causing trouble to many non-Japanese-speaking people who come into my store. I thought the best thing I could do would be to put up such a sign so that people would not have to be troubled.” Reported the Asahi Evening News: “In most cases discrimination occurs with people who have had little contact with non-Japanese and who therefore think saying no is the best way to deal with the situation.”
Educated Pied Pipers
Advertising to fill 76 vacancies for the post of rat killers, the Bombay Municipal Corporation ran into a problem. “A majority of the 40,000 odd applicants are graduates, matriculants and college dropouts, while the academic criterion for a rat killer is just primary school education,” reports the Indian Express. “How could we appoint a graduate as a rat killer?” one official asked. Rats are searched out at night and killed with a club for the payment of Rs.100 (just over $3, U.S.) for every 25 freshly killed rats. The corporation is looking for a “better recruitment scheme.” But this is not the only problem the civic authorities have been facing. They have a religious one too. Members of the Jain religion, as well as others who do not believe in killing animals, have been bribing the workers to spare the rats on humane grounds.