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Watching the World

Watching the World


A study in Switzerland states that there is a 14 percent greater probability that a person over 60 years of age will die on his birthday rather than on other days. On their birthday, people in general suffer fatal heart attacks 18 percent more frequently, women suffer strokes 21 percent more frequently, and men commit suicide 35 percent more frequently. Scientists assume that stress and alcohol are contributing factors in the increased rates of suicides and accidents. Some experts contest this study, however, believing that human error may account for many matching birth and death dates.


Good-looking men were more likely to be invited to job interviews when they attached a photo to their résumé; attractive women were less likely. Why? Israeli researchers suggest that this may be because human resource departments—tasked with deciding whom to interview—are mainly staffed by women. The “unpalatable” explanation, says The Economist, is that “old-fashioned jealousy led the women to discriminate against pretty candidates.”

United States

Three pacifists—an 82-year-old nun along with two companions aged 63 and 57—recently breached the defenses of a site in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, that houses 100 tons of nuclear material, and they painted antiwar slogans on one of the buildings. The lapse in security at what is “supposed to be one of the world’s most secure facilities” was described by Energy Secretary Steven Chu as “deeply troubling.”


The highest court in the nation requires tobacco companies to remove distinctive colors and logos from cigarette packaging. Now, all cigarettes must be sold in drab dark-brown packs bearing graphic images that depict the dangers of smoking.