Watching the World
Genital Herpes on the Rise
“Despite the emphasis on safe sex to prevent AIDS, genital herpes has increased fivefold since the late 1970s among white teen-agers” in the United States, says an Associated Press report. It was noted, however, that other sexually transmitted diseases, such as gonorrhea, declined during the same period. Why the rise in herpes? Among the reasons are an increase in premarital sex and people having multiple sex partners. It is now estimated that 45 million Americans are infected with the herpes virus, and most of them don’t know it. The virus produces occasional sores or itching in the genital area and sometimes around the buttocks or on the thighs.
Church of England Declines
The official estimate of Church of England attendances each Sunday is one million. Privately, some senior clerics admit that there may be 25 percent fewer attending their churches. A scientific survey, however, shows that the core membership, those receiving Communion, is down to less than half a million for the first time. Why are clergymen so ready to inflate their attendance figures? Basically, to protect their churches from closure. When that happens, parishes are grouped together and fewer clergymen are required. One parish priest was honest enough to say: “I am inclined to exaggerate the numbers. It is discouraging when few people attend, so it gives me self-encouragement to record that more have actually been present,” reports The Sunday Times of London.
Husband Sues Wife for Smoking
For more than 20 years, Richard Thomas begged and pleaded in an effort to get his wife to stop smoking, but it was all to no avail. So he took her to court. Mr. Thomas said that he wanted the government to protect him against the loss of the love and support and companionship of the woman he loved. He had already lost his mother to heart disease, and then his father suffered a stroke that left him bedridden for seven years. Both of his parents were heavy smokers, and he said that he did not want to lose his wife to nicotine addiction. Before the court could issue an injunction, however, Mr. Thomas returned with good news. “My wife has agreed to stop smoking,” he said. Mrs. Thomas entered an addiction treatment center and vowed to give up cigarettes for good. According to The New York Times, as they left the courthouse, the Thomases were holding hands.
Wild Australian Camels
Camels were imported into Australia many years ago for work in the construction of a telegraph line and the railway across the country’s harsh outback. When the hardy animals were superseded by trucks, many of their Afghan owners released them into the wild instead of slaughtering them. The camels thrived in dry central Australia, and today as many as 200,000 are to be found there. Some people now believe that the camels could become a valuable national asset, reports the newspaper The Australian. Camel meat has already been test-marketed and is said to be as tender as beef and to have a lower fat content. Other camel products include hides, milk, wool, and fat for use in soap and cosmetics. Live camels are also in demand. According to Peter Seidel, of the Central Australian Camel Industry, “a lot of international zoos and tourist parks want Australian camels because we have a disease-free herd.”
“Nearly 15 million people of Bangladesh and 30 million people of West Bengal, including Calcutta, are exposed to arsenic poisoning,” reports The Times of India. The problem is an unexpected by-product of the green revolution. When deep wells were dug for the irrigation of crops, naturally embedded arsenic in the earth was brought up in the water, and it eventually seeped into wells used for drinking. Environmental expert Willard Chappel, of the University of Colorado, U.S.A., recently visited the affected areas and described the problem as “by far the biggest mass poisoning case in the world.” More than 200,000 people are already afflicted with skin lesions, a sign of arsenic poisoning. “It seems we took care of hunger (through the green revolution), and created more misery in the process,” said Ishak Ali, a government official from Bangladesh.
In 1991 the National Association of Working Women estimated that “by the mid-1990s, 65% of [American] women with preschool children and 77% of those with school-age children will be in the work force.” How accurate was their prediction? In 1996, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 63 percent of the women with children under five years of age were employed, reports The Washington Post. Of women with school-age children, 78 percent were working mothers. What about Europe? Based on information compiled by the Statistical Office of the European Union, the “proportion of working women with children age 5 to 16” in European countries during 1995 was Portugal 69 percent, Austria 67, France 63, Finland 63, Belgium 62, Britain 59, Germany 57, Netherlands 51, Greece 47, Luxembourg 45, Italy 43, Ireland 39, and Spain 36.
Bankruptcy Becoming Common
In 1996 “a record 1.2 million Americans filed for bankruptcy, up 44 percent from 1994,” states Newsweek magazine. “Bankruptcy has become so common that it’s lost its stigma.” What accounts for the increase in bankruptcies? One reason is the “growing acceptance of bankruptcy as just another lifestyle choice,” says Newsweek. “Creditors say the attitude shift is leading to abuse: one study says 45 percent of bankruptcy filers could pay back much of their debt.” But instead of demonstrating a desire to pay back what they owe and a feeling of shame, many are just saying, ‘I need a fresh start.’ More and more individuals and corporations are taking the bankruptcy route, and they are also influenced by lawyers’ ads to “solve your debt problems quick and easy!!” As the numbers continue to rise during a booming economy, experts shudder to think of what might happen if there were a market crash or a recession.
Destructive Fishing Practices
Commercial fishing fleets are investing in equipment to scour the ocean floor in search of ever-decreasing numbers of fish. To scoop up species previously ignored, seabed equipment, known as mobile gear, is dragged along the ocean floor at depths of up to 3,900 feet [1,200 m]. The problem is that large numbers of “tube worms, sponges, anemones, hydrozoans, urchins, and other denizens of the deep” are caught in the process and “discarded as waste,” reports Science News. Destroying them compounds the shortage of fish stocks. Because these animals provide food and shelter for small fish, Elliott Norse, director of the Marine Conservation Biology Institute in Redmond, Washington, U.S.A., says that the destruction of marine habitat by this method of fishing can be compared to “clear-cutting forests on land.”
Teen Morals in Britain
A recent report suggests that religious institutions in Britain are losing the battle to instill sexual morality in teenagers. London University asked 3,000 teenagers “whether it was morally wrong for an unmarried couple in a long-term relationship to make love.” As expected, nearly all who described themselves as atheists or agnostics said no. However, 85.4 percent of Roman Catholics and 80 percent of Anglicans also said that it was not wrong. The figures were similar for many other religions, which were considered as a group—including Muslims, Jews, Hindus, and others. The survey “will make depressing reading for those in the churches attempting to uphold traditional standards of sexual morality,” comments The Times of London.