Watching the World
▪ In 2007 some 47 million Chinese suffered shortages of drinking water resulting from the worst drought in a decade. Meanwhile, 42 million were affected by typhoons, and 180 million by floods.—XINHUA NEWS AGENCY, CHINA.
▪ “In 2003, an estimated fifth of pregnancies worldwide ended in abortion. In Europe, this proportion was nearer a third . . . [In] the countries of the former Soviet Union, . . . an estimated 45% of pregnancies in 2003 were aborted.”—BRITISH MEDICAL JOURNAL, BRITAIN.
Violent Video Games in Church
“Hundreds of ministers and pastors desperate to reach young congregants have drawn concern and criticism through their use of an unusual recruiting tool”—an “immensely popular” but “violent video game,” reports The New York Times. The game in question is intended for mature audiences. In it the player, who takes on the role of a soldier, has to kill in a number of different ways. This has not prevented the organizers of several Protestant and evangelical youth groups from “stocking their centers with multiple game consoles so dozens of teenagers can flock around big-screen televisions and shoot it out,” says the newspaper.
Children’s Identities Stolen
A growing number of children are victims of identity theft, with potentially devastating impact on their future credit rating and relationships, says The Wall Street Journal. Such crimes, usually committed by a family member, can go undetected for decades. “Most people don’t realize that someone has been illegally using their identity . . . until they apply for their first job, a driver’s license, a student loan or a mortgage,” explains the newspaper. Some find out earlier if a credit agency attempts to collect debts that have accumulated in the victim’s name.
Nuclear Warheads “Missing”
On August 30, 2007, a U.S. Air Force B-52 bomber flew over the United States for three and a half hours carrying six nuclear-armed cruise missiles that had been “mistakenly attached to the airplane’s wing,” reports The Washington Post. Neither the pilots that flew the plane nor the ground crew that loaded the missiles noticed the mistake, which “would escape notice for an astounding 36 hours,” says the newspaper. According to reports, “Air Force officials said the warheads were not activated and at no time posed a threat to the public.” Even so, asked one commentator: “How worried should we be?”
Pigeons Measure Pollution
Studies conducted on pigeons in Jaipur city show that these birds can be used to measure city pollution, say researchers at the University of Rajasthan, in northern India. “Heavy metals present in the environment of the habitat enter the feathers, and remain even after [the feathers] are shed,” explains New Delhi’s Gobar Times, a supplement to Down to Earth magazine. Since pigeons normally live in a fixed area, the levels of cadmium, chromium, copper, and lead detected in their feathers may be an accurate indicator of local pollution.