Watching the World
Wolves Go Fishing
For years it was thought that a wolf’s diet consisted exclusively of land animals such as deer. According to Canada’s Vancouver Sun, however, wolves dwelling in the rain forests along the central coast of British Columbia have been observed eating mussels, clams, barnacles, and even salmon—“as many as 20 in one hour.” They stealthily watch a fish, and then “in one swift and lethal move, they plant all four feet firmly in the water and strike,” making a catch about 4 times out of 10. Puzzling to researchers, however, is the wolves’ habit of eating just the head of the salmon. Researcher Chris Darimont suggests that the head may contain preferred nutrients or that the body of the salmon may harbor harmful parasites. “These wolves are continually surprising us. It makes me wonder how many more mysteries there are in the rainforest,” says Darimont.
Trained to Be Young Tyrants
“Children rule in our homes!” says the Polish weekly Wprost. “It is mostly for them that we buy expensive clothes, cosmetics, and modern gadgets. In lower- and medium-income families, up to 80 percent of the household budget is spent on teenagers.” Commenting on research conducted by Małgorzata Rymkiewicz of the Warsaw University for Parents, the report points to some of the symptoms of despotic behavior in children. For example, instead of being thankful to their parents, “they demand more and more, are unhappy with what they get, are aggressive, [and] have no consideration for others.” Says Rymkiewicz: “We make terrible mistakes in child-rearing, allowing even small children to do everything they want.” The Polish Association of Psychologists agrees, saying: “The boundaries a teenager recognizes depend on the boundaries that were imposed on him when he was between one and four years of age. . . . By yielding to all teenagers’ acts of protest and aggression, we simply raise tyrants.”
Marriage Breakers Incorporated
Some unhappily married people in Japan are paying agencies to break up their marriages, says a report in Tokyo’s IHT Asahi Shimbun newspaper. If a husband wants to be rid of his wife but has no grounds for divorce, he can pay a ‘couple-buster’ agency to send out a good-looking man who will “accidentally” meet the client’s wife and start an affair with her. Before long, the wife agrees to a divorce. His job done, the hired lover disappears from the scene. When a wife wants to be rid of her husband, the firm sends out an attractive young woman to lure him into bed. According to one 24-year-old female, the men she approaches “almost never say no. I’d say I succeed 85 to 90 percent [of the time].” The president of one agency fires employees who fail 3 times out of 5, says the paper. “They have to succeed,” he said. “It’s a business.”
“Domestic violence is the chief reason children and adolescents abandon home and live on the streets,” says Brazil’s newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo. A recent survey of 1,000 street children sheltered at Rio de Janeiro’s Foundation for Children and Adolescents revealed that 39 percent had suffered abuse or had witnessed conflicts at home. “These children are in search of dignity and are under the illusion that they will find it on the streets,” said sociologist Leni Schmitz. The study revealed that 34 percent of the children had taken to the streets to do odd jobs or beg, 10 percent had done so because of involvement with drugs, and 14 percent simply said that they wanted to. According to researchers, the last reason often conceals other reasons, such as sexual abuse at home. About 71 percent lived with other street children, creating “their own family hierarchy, identifying other street children as brothers, uncles, fathers, or mothers,” said Schmitz.
Missionaries Forgo Christ for Philanthropy
“Too many missionaries neglect Jesus.” Thus ran a quote recently in the Italian newspaper La Stampa. Rather than preach Christ, such missionaries reportedly give priority to social programs designed to alleviate poverty and suffering. According to a Vatican City Web site, cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, said of Catholic missionaries: “The great temptation in recent decades . . . has been to neglect the explicit proclamation of Christ and the spiritual dimension of mission ad gentes [toward the peoples]. This has led some missionaries to reduce their work to a sort of philanthropy void of spirit, a sort of social activity that, although useful, lacks the apostolic dimension that the Acts of the Apostles makes resound.”
More Tobacco Hazards
“Women who smoke as few as three cigarettes a day can double their risk of heart disease and premature death,” reports The Daily Telegraph of London. A 20-year study of 12,000 Danish men and women revealed for the first time that smoking only a small number of cigarettes a day is hazardous. Even smokers who do not inhale had an increased health risk. Amanda Sandford, spokeswoman for Action on Smoking and Health, said that in view of the facts revealed by this study, “smokers should aim to stop smoking completely.” In another study, reported in The Times of London, doctors at the University of Athens School of Medicine in Greece found that regular exposure to someone else’s tobacco smoke for only 30 minutes a day (estimated to be the equivalent of smoking one cigarette) can increase the risk of heart disease by 47 percent in nonsmoking men, and 56 percent in women.
Exclusive Beaches for Endangered Seals
Since 1996 the Mediterranean monk seal has been among the world’s ten most threatened animals, reports the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. Between 400 and 600 of these seals still survive in the wild. Their numbers declined when they became the target of hunters and were incidentally killed by fishermen. Later, they suffered habitat destruction as a result of tourism and development, explains the Spanish newspaper El País. Hence, the seals sought shelter in caves. But pounding waves during storms turn the caves into death traps for seal pups. Now the governments of Spain and Mauritania are collaborating to create a protected area of beach near the caves and cliffs at Cabo Blanco on the Atlantic Coast of Western Sahara. This area is home to 150 monk seals, the largest group. Human interference will evidently be kept to a minimum.
In October 2002, Mexico joined the countries that use currency made of plastic. Little by little, paper bills are being replaced by their plastic equivalents. According to the newspaper El Universal, plastic currency is already being used in Australia, Brazil, New Zealand, and Romania. We owe the use of paper money to the Chinese, but it was the Australians who developed the polymer from which these new bills are manufactured, reports the newspaper. Plastic bills have several advantages. Besides being cleaner, they “last four times longer than paper ones, are more resistant to common usage, . . . are more difficult to falsify, and can be recycled at the end of their useful life.”