Watching the World
▪ Based on the preference of each taxpayer, the Spanish government assigns 0.5 percent of taxes to either charitable or Catholic organizations. Although 80 percent of Spaniards profess Catholicism, only 20 percent pick the church option.—EL PAÍS, SPAIN.
▪ “Being a smoker at the age of 30 cuts a man’s life expectancy by 5 1⁄2 years, and a woman’s by more than 6 1⁄2,” according to life tables produced by the Institute of Actuaries. However, quitting at age 30 reduces much of the risk of dying from a tobacco-related disease.—THE TIMES, ENGLAND.
▪ During 2004, world oil consumption rose 3.4 percent to 82.4 million barrels per day. The United States and China accounted for almost half the increase and now use 20.5 million and 6.6 million barrels a day respectively.—VITAL SIGNS 2005, WORLDWATCH INSTITUTE.
“Appreciate Your Mother”
Labor analysts estimate that if a Canadian stay-at-home mom with two school-aged children were paid for all the work she does, her annual salary, including overtime pay, would be $163,852 (Canadian). The figure is based on current market wages and a “100-hour workweek, consisting of six 15-hour days and one 10-hour day,” says the Vancouver Sun newspaper. Among the responsibilities of a stay-at-home mom are those of day-care worker, teacher, driver, housekeeper, cook, nurse, and general maintenance worker. The newspaper offers the following advice: “Appreciate your mother: She’s probably underpaid.”
Confused Values Among Youths
Young Finns are increasingly “creating their own morals,” states a bulletin of the University of Jyväskylä, in Finland. Commonly today, “people take elements of their faith from here and there, as if they were shopping,” says the bulletin. The results are sometimes contradictory. For example, young ones believe it is important to share wealth and prosperity justly; yet, at the same time, they “have begun to believe in brazenness and harsh competition.”
Prion Transfusion Risk
In a recent press release, the French Health and Safety Agency for Medical Products upgraded from possible to probable the risk of transmission of prions through blood transfusion. Prions are the protein molecules thought to be responsible for the development of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) in humans. This fatal neurodegenerative condition, for which there is no known cure, is the human variant of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, more commonly known as mad-cow disease. The upgrading of the risk follows the discovery of two cases in Britain of probable transmission of vCJD through blood transfusion. No reliable test exists to diagnose this disease prior to the onset of clinical symptoms.
Yearning for a Slimmer Body
Research has found that “girls as young as five are dissatisfied with their bodies and wish they were thinner,” reports The Sydney Morning Herald. The report cites a study involving Australian girls aged five to eight. Nearly half the girls wanted to have skinnier bodies, while a similar number said that “they would diet if they put on weight.” One researcher suggested that unhealthy body images “could lead to low self-esteem, depression and eating disorders in later life.”