Watching the World

In the 35-year period between 1970 and 2005, one quarter of vertebrate species​—fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals—​became extinct.​—SÜDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG, GERMANY

In efforts to cope with 2.2 million percent inflation, Zimbabwe knocked ten zeros off its bank notes in August 2008. A $10-billion note was thus revalued at one “zimdollar.”​—AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE, ZIMBABWE.

“More than 12,000 homicides by gun were reported in the United States in 2005. But the number of people who are wounded and survive gunshot assaults is much greater​—nearly 53,000 were treated in emergency rooms in 2006.”​—THE SEATTLE TIMES, U.S.A.

Christmas “Cheer”?

About 20 percent of divorce proceedings in Australia are begun right after the Christmas and New Year period, says Sydney’s Sunday Telegraph. “We see a lot of people having fights or breakdowns and coming to our doors as soon as our offices re-open,” says divorce lawyer Barry Frakes. “People have expectations that Christmas will be perfect like it is on TV shows and in advertising.” When their lives do not fit this “stereotype,” he adds, they seek a divorce. Yet, according to Angela Conway, spokeswoman for the Australian Family Association, “divorce rarely solves long-term problems or brings the peace and happiness that people think it will.” She recommends: “It’s worth sticking to your marriage and trying to make it work.”

“Birthing Houses” Save Lives

Peru has put great effort into reducing its maternal mortality rate. In order to encourage Andean women to receive professional medical care at a clinic rather than give birth at home, 390 “birthing houses” have been opened in Peru over the last decade. A pregnant woman and her family can stay at one of these houses​—each one conveniently located next to a clinic—​until it is time for the birth. One attraction of these clinics, says a Reuters news report from Cuzco, is that they blend “modern medicine with indigenous practices,” such as “giving birth standing up,” which “tends to reduce labor and delivery time . . . and allows the mother to watch the birth better than if she were lying down.”

Always Late

According to a 2008 U.S. Department of Transportation report, some 30 percent of all scheduled airline flights in the United States arrive more than 15 minutes late. Among the worst offenders was a flight from Texas to California, which arrived late 100 percent of the time.