Watching the World
European Males Grooming More
“Over the past five years, men’s grooming time has increased to an average of 3.1 hours a week—compared to the average woman’s 2.5 hours,” reports London’s newspaper The Daily Telegraph. The increased interest in personal appearance is reflected in the growing market for skin care, hair care, personal hygiene, and fragrance products designed specifically for men, which was worth “£13.6 billion [US $25 billion] last year and is expected to rise to £16.1 billion [US $29 billion] by 2008.” The manager of one grooming salon for men told the paper: “Business has been booming with clients regularly spending up to £200 [US $360] on facials, manicures and pedicures.” In addition, the paper notes that “60 per cent of male fragrances are now sold directly to men, rather than to girlfriends or wives.”
Overstocked With Professionals
“Obtaining a degree today does not guarantee getting a job,” states El Universal newspaper of Mexico City. A recent study conducted in Mexico revealed that “between 1991 and 2000, 40 percent of professionals had to take jobs unrelated to their degree course.” This means that some 750,000 university graduates are performing jobs that do not require a degree, such as those of “telephone operators, drivers, magicians, clowns, [and] bartenders.” The report estimated that by 2006, in Mexico there will be 131,000 more administrators, 100,000 more accountants, 92,000 more computer engineers, 92,000 more elementary-school teachers, and 87,000 more lawyers than there are jobs available in these professions.
Cars Versus Bikes in China
As the Chinese economy grows, people are choosing to drive automobiles rather than ride bicycles. For example, only 25 percent of Beijing residents now rely primarily on bicycles for travel, compared to 60 percent only ten years ago. “In Beijing alone,” says the Toronto Star newspaper of Canada, “the number of vehicles on the road is increasing by more than 400,000 each year.” As a result, “roadway speeds now average just 12 kilometres [7.5 miles] per hour” in that city. National Geographic reports that during 2003 in China, “newly prosperous professionals snapped up over two million cars—up 70 percent over 2002.” It adds that the commuter’s growing reliance on petrol power instead of pedal power means “China may have already leapfrogged Japan to become the world’s second largest oil user.” Nevertheless, there are still an estimated 470 million bikes in China.
Reading to Newborn Babies Beneficial
“Reading to young children has such a powerful impact on the rest of their lives that experts now recommend parents begin doing so when their babies are just hours old,” says The Toronto Star. Dr. Richard Goldbloom, who two years ago spearheaded the first newborn literacy program in Canada, says: “One of the things we’ve learned and observed is that when you do read to a baby, they really pay attention from very early infancy. They are listening.” Research indicates that just giving books to children from a very early age improves their vocabulary and reading skills. According to the newspaper, “the point is not to force toddlers to learn to read, but to expose them to both quality and quantity of language so they can acquire vocabulary and letter and sound recognition—and, eventually, actual reading skills.”
Unprotected Species Disappearing
In recent years conservationists have succeeded in protecting over 10 percent of the earth’s surface, states Peru’s newspaper El Comercio. Despite this commendable effort, “at least 300 species of birds, mammals, turtles, and amphibians, considered critically threatened” are completely unprotected by the present system of nature reserves. The problem, says Gustavo Fonseca, executive vice president for programs and science of Conservation International, is that present conservation goals may be “politically attractive” but inadequate. “We must focus specifically on conserving those places where we find the highest concentrations of threatened endemic species,” he states. Highlighting another threat to endangered species, the paper reports that trade in endangered species is one of the largest illicit commercial activities on the planet, after trafficking in drugs and weapons. Nearly half of all the species of animals sold on the international black market come from the forests of South America.
Beware of Spiked Drinks
In Australia “up to five people a day are sexually assaulted after having their drinks spiked in pubs, clubs and private parties,” warns The Australian newspaper. Drinks are spiked when alcohol or drugs are added without the drinker’s knowledge. Some of the drugs used have no color, taste, or smell. Victims can become disoriented, immobilized, or unconscious. Some of them have died. A nationwide study by the Australian Institute of Criminology revealed that “an estimated 4500 people have their drinks spiked each year, with up to 40 per cent suffering sexual assault,” states the paper. When the effects of the spiked drinks wear off, individuals may not even remember what happened to them.
Hope for Earth’s Ozone Layer?
“Levels of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in the atmosphere have at last begun to decline,” reports ECOS magazine, published by the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO). Atmospheric CFCs damage earth’s protective ozone layer. For over 50 years, the quantity of CFCs present in the upper atmosphere steadily increased until the year 2000. Since then, CFC concentrations have been “falling by almost one per cent per year,” states ECOS. This decline, says the report, “suggests that the ozone hole could close by about the middle of this century.” These chemicals, however, are still causing damage. The report states: “Despite the decrease, this year’s hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica . . . reached nearly 29 million square kilometres [11 million square miles], more than three times the area of Australia.”