Watching the World
Seeking Fatness Because of Fear
Afraid that they will be mistaken for AIDS victims, “some women in the north of Cameroon stuff themselves with medicines that cause weight gain,” states a report in the Douala newspaper Le Messager, as published in Courrier International. “The news spreads very quickly when a sick person loses weight, and in public opinion, weight loss remains the best-known symptom of the illness.” This is also known as slim disease in Africa. Medicines, sold on the black market, are taken “without any medical prescription,” says the African source. For thin young women, however, rumors and the fear of being a social outcast because of assumed HIV infection are stronger than the potential risk.
Evidence of Paul’s Visit to Cyprus?
“Italian archaeologists at Paphos, on the rocky, sun-drenched southwestern coast of Cyprus, say they have uncovered the earliest material evidence of Paul’s presence on the island,” notes Biblical Archaeology Review. “Until now, the apostle’s visit was known only from the New Testament, which relates that Paul, on his first missionary journey, ‘sailed to Cyprus,’ where he crossed ‘the whole island as far as Paphos’ (Acts 13:4-6).” The evidence consists of a marble plaque fragment that shows two lines of Greek. The top reads “LOY,” and beneath it is “OSTO.” This is reconstructed by the archaeologists to read “(PAU)LOY (AP)OSTO(LOY),” or “Paul apostle,” and they date it to the first or second century C.E. “The Pafio [Paphos] fragment allows us to begin to reconstruct the map of Paul’s movements,” said Filippo Giudice, head of the archaeological team.
Naming New Species After You
“Looking for that extra-special gift for a loved one who seems to have everything?” asks Science magazine. “Help is at hand. In return for a donation to biodiversity research, you can have a previously unknown species of orchid, or mosquito, or sea slug, named after them and recorded in the scientific literature for perpetuity.” Or it can be named after you. Recent research suggests that only one tenth or fewer of existing species today have been described in scientific literature. Thousands of collected species are consigned nameless to museum drawers, waiting to be named and described in a scientific journal. People can now turn to a Web site and look at pictures of unnamed species that have a description ready for publication. Then, for a donation of $2,800 or more, they can bestow a Latin name on the species of their choice. By this means, the organization called BIOPAT hopes to raise funds for both taxonomy and the conservation of new species.
“Every day, . . . 30,500 boys and girls under the age of five die of many preventable causes,” says the United Nations Children’s Fund in its report The State of the World’s Children 2000. The Indian Express newspaper reports that “an estimated two million children have been killed and six million injured or disabled in armed conflicts in the last decade and still more millions are victims of human rights abuses.” More than 15 million children are refugees, and over one million have been separated from their parents or orphaned. Additionally, the report makes mention of studies by the International Labor Organization that show that at least 250 million children between 5 and 14 years of age are working as forced laborers, 20 percent of them in extremely hazardous conditions. About a million children worldwide are being forced to work as prostitutes, and 250,000 children are infected with the HIV virus each month. And 130 million children—two thirds of them girls—do not attend school.
A Modern Handwritten Bible
Work has started on an illuminated, handwritten Bible to be completed in six years, at an estimated cost of $3 million. It was commissioned by Benedictine monks at St. John’s University in Minnesota, U.S.A. At his workshop in Wales, British calligrapher Donald Jackson is overseeing a small team of calligraphers who are working with him on the project. They are writing on vellum, using goose-quill pens and antique Chinese stick ink made of refined soot mixed with gum. A calligraphic script specially designed for the work will be printed from a computer and then copied by hand, with illustrations and decorated letters added later. The completed work will comprise seven volumes and will have over 1,150 pages, each measuring about 24 inches [60 cm] high by 16 inches [40 cm] wide. The Bible chosen for this monumental task, the first of its kind in 500 years, is the English New Revised Standard Version. However, the order of the Bible books has been changed, and the first volume will start with the Gospels. Later, 100 copies of a collector’s edition are planned, to sell for between $60,000 and $80,000 a set.
Smokers or Not, Pollution Is Unavoidable
Most child smokers in India take up the habit at a very early age, according to a report by the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, in Mumbai. On the average, street children with no parental supervision start at the age of 8, while school-going children with guardians start at 11. However, another survey in Mumbai showed that children who had good parental care and who never smoked were inhaling pollutants that were the equivalent of smoking two packs of cigarettes a day! As reported in the newspaper The Asian Age, Mumbai and Delhi are among the top five most polluted cities in the world. With about 900,000 vehicles regularly plying the streets of Mumbai and another 300,000 moving in and out of the city each day, the air pollution rates, it is reported, are 600 to 800 percent higher than the permissible emission limits set by the World Health Organization.
China’s Wildlife Delicacies
China’s wildlife is being threatened as a result of “changing lifestyles and food habits,” notes Down to Earth magazine. A growing belief that certain types of wildlife are healthier in the diet than other foods has opened up a huge demand for exotic delicacies. Snakes head the list, with poisonous ones costing twice as much as the nonpoisonous. Wild boars, civet cats, toads, frogs, pythons, pangolins, Tibetan antelope, and rare birds are all high in the popularity ratings and appear on menus in restaurants throughout China. Many of these creatures are on the endangered species list, which qualifies them for government protection. Yet, some restaurant owners put up signs assuring their customers that the wildlife served is really wild and not domesticated or bred artificially. The Chinese government has launched a campaign to protect wildlife from the self-styled gourmets and is using the slogan, “Say no to eating wildlife.”
Dangerous to Birds
“North America’s office buildings and communications towers are silent killers,” declares The Globe and Mail of Toronto, Canada. “Strikes against structures, including windows on homes, are believed to kill 100 million birds annually on the continent.” Office lights left on at night inexplicably confuse the navigational ability of migrating birds. Experts say that the problem is widespread. “I don’t know any place in the country, on the continent, where there aren’t examples of this,” states ornithologist David Willard. Groups like Toronto’s Fatal Light Awareness Program are striving to educate office workers to turn their lights off at night.
In addition, “sky-beamers”—spotlights that sweep the sky to attract people to discos or other places of entertainment—divert nocturnal animals, reports the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. The lights disturb the sensitive navigational system of birds and bats. In confusion, birds have been known to break up their migrating formation, change direction, call in anxiety, and even interrupt their migration completely. Sometimes birds, thrown off course, land exhausted after hours of circling, and weakened ones even die. The Institute for the Protection of Birds in Frankfurt has called for a ban on the “sky-beamers.”