Watching the World
Cell phones and the Internet are a social lifeline for many young people. “They can also be their social death,” says Canada’s Maclean’s magazine, since “cyberbullies” can use E-mail, instant messaging, and cell-phone text messaging to torment victims. “A quarter of young Canadian Internet users report having received material that said hateful things about others,” says Maclean’s. Such electronic bullying has moved police to issue reminders that written death threats are a crime. Maclean’s advises parents to talk to their children about the people and places they visit on-line and to put computers in an open area of the home where it is easy to monitor what children are reading and sending. The report warns children never to respond to a bully’s message and never to “give out their log-in codes or passwords to others, even their best buddies,” in order to prevent their private information from being passed on to others.
More Cars—More Challenges
“China is progressing from a kingdom of bicycles towards an automobile society,” states the newspaper China Daily. Presently, there are 20 vehicles for every 1,000 people in China, compared with a worldwide ratio of 120 to 1,000. The number of vehicles in China is predicted to increase dramatically. Chen Qingtai, deputy director of the Development Research Centre of the State Council, believes that increased vehicle ownership will improve many people’s lives. But Chen also foresees challenges: “Pollution in cities will mainly be generated by automobiles, instead of coal, if we cannot effectively control auto exhaust emission.” In some Chinese cities, vehicles are already the biggest emitters of carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide. Efforts are being made to reduce pollution before the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
More than 3,000 South African women have been tricked into getting “married,” reports the Sowetan newspaper of Johannesburg. In one scam, women sign what they think is a job contract, but they are actually signing a marriage certificate. The certificate qualifies the foreign “bridegroom” for permanent residence in the country. The “bride” may discover the deceit only when she applies to replace lost identification documents and finds she has been given a different surname or when she goes to register her marriage on her real wedding day and learns that she is listed as already married! Getting the “marriage” annulled can be complicated. Still, about 2,000 of the women have successfully canceled their unwitting marriages. To fight the scam, a new law requires foreign spouses to wait five years before applying for permanent residency.
Rare Archaeological Find
Archaeologists investigating caves near the Dead Sea have turned up jewelry and other items said to date back 2,500 years, to the period when the Jews returned to their homeland from exile in Babylon. The archaeologists, from Hebrew University in Jerusalem and Bar Ilan University in Ramat Gan, located the items with the use of metal detectors. Among the treasures were a small bronze mirror, a silver pendant, a necklace of gold and semiprecious stone beads, a Babylonian agate medallion, and a stamp depicting a Babylonian priest bowing to the moon, reports the Associated Press. “This find is very rare. Both for the richness of the find and for that period, it is almost unheard of,” said Tsvika Tsuk, chief archaeologist for the Israel Nature and National Parks Protection Authority.
Children Can Suffer Stroke
“At least one child every day in Canada suffers a stroke,” reports the Vancouver Sun newspaper. Neurologist Gabrielle deVeber, director of the Canadian Pediatric Ischemic Stroke Registry, says that child stroke victims must receive immediate treatment, or they will have “bigger strokes and more neurological damage.” According to the newspaper, “clot-busters must be administered within three hours of the onset of stroke.” But childhood strokes “are often misdiagnosed as seizures or migraines.” The paper notes that symptoms indicating stroke “include numbness or weakness, particularly on one side of the body, confusion, impaired speech, loss of vision, dizziness and sudden, severe headache.” Youthful strokes can be triggered by certain treatments for heart disease and cancer, and some experts suspect that “child obesity and diets high in fats” may also be risk factors.
According to a study by the environmental organization Toxics Link, South Asians are ingesting dangerous pollutants along with their regular diet, reports India’s newspaper The Hindu. The study found banned or regulated substances in basic foodstuffs such as meat, spices, and oil. Persistent organic pollutants such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) have found their way into the environment “possibly through indiscriminate disposal of old transformers and capacitors imported before the ban” of PCBs or because they are released at ship-breaking yards, says the report. Other studies discovered DDT in vegetables and dried fish. Despite international treaties aimed at controlling such hazards, ‘breast milk, fat samples and human blood samples show high level of contamination due to DDT, HCB, Aldrin, Dieldrin, [Dioxin], Furans and PCBs,’ states the report.
Societies Transformed by Guns
“The proliferation of weaponry, in particular small arms, is so widespread that it is responsible for the death of one person every minute and more than 500,000 killings a year [worldwide],” reveals London’s newspaper The Independent. “In 2001, 16 billion units of military ammunition were made, enough to shoot everyone in the world twice.” Nearly eight million firearms are manufactured annually, the majority for civilian use. As the study by Amnesty International, Oxfam, and the International Action Network on Small Arms points out, “societies that were once largely peaceful, with any scores being settled with fists or knives, have been transformed by guns.” In one country, assault rifles are used as currency. In another, an English teacher who gave lessons to an elderly woman was paid in hand grenades. And in a third country, “babies are named ‘Uzi’ and ‘AK’ after their fathers’ favourite assault rifles,” the paper said.