Watching the World

In 2006, “167 journalists and support staff,” such as drivers and interpreters, “died trying to cover the news.” Most were reporting on crime, corruption, or localized conflicts. Some 133 were murdered.​—INTERNATIONAL NEWS SAFETY INSTITUTE, BELGIUM.

Between 10 and 14 billion rounds of ammunition are produced every year, “enough bullets to kill every person in the world twice over.”​—ROYAL MELBOURNE INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY, AUSTRALIA.

Man-Made Earthquakes?

Since the 19th century, human activity has caused more than 200 strong earthquakes, says a report in the German newspaper Die Zeit. Mining triggered half of these quakes. Other causes appear to be the extraction of gas, oil, or water; fluid injection; and the creation of reservoirs. A 1989 earthquake in Newcastle, Australia, which scientists attribute to underground coal mining, left 13 people dead, 165 injured, and damage to the tune of $3.5 billion (U.S.). It is calculated that the losses caused by that quake exceeded the total amount of money earned from mining in Newcastle since operations began there two centuries ago.

The State of French Catholicism

In 1994, 67 percent of people in France claimed to be Catholic. Today the figure is 51 percent, says the magazine Le Monde des Religions. A survey revealed that half of French Catholics only go to church for special events such as weddings. Though 88 percent claim to know the Our Father prayer by heart, 30 percent never pray. Nearly half of Catholic homes have a Bible, but this does not necessarily mean that it is read.

Speech Disorders Among Children

“More and more children start speaking late and use a very limited vocabulary,” says the Polish magazine Wprost, “because adults do not talk with them.” Mothers spend 30 minutes a day with their children, on average, and fathers, a “mere seven minutes.” As a result, almost 1 child out of every 5 “suffers from certain speech development disorders resulting solely from its parents’ negligence.” Michał Bitniok, a speech therapist and linguist at the Silesian University, warns: “If such children are not treated early enough and remain uncared for, their speech disorders might cause them difficulties at school and in their adult life.”

Using Superstition in Japan

Illegal dumping on municipal land is a headache in Japan. Daytime security patrols are unable to prevent it. People simply bring their junk at night. Now, by erecting torii, red wooden gates designed to look like entrances to Shinto shrines, local governments are using superstition as a deterrent. “The concept is pretty simple,” explains the newspaper IHT Asahi Shimbun. “People generally regard torii as sacred, so dumping litter near one would bring bad luck.” Sure enough, people no longer leave waste close to them. “A bit further away,” says the newspaper, “it’s a different story.”