Watching the World

▪ A recent study “has found that six in 10 Britons think that religion has become a divisive force.”​—THE CATHOLIC HERALD, BRITAIN.

▪ The world’s biggest photovoltaic plant has been set up in Portugal. Solar cells cover 600 acres [250 ha] and will be capable of producing enough electricity for some 30,000 homes.​—EL PAÍS, SPAIN.

▪ Worldwide, 900,000 youngsters die of unnatural causes each year​—more than 2,000 every day. The primary causes are road accidents, drownings, and burns.​—DIE WELT, GERMANY.

“Although the rate of net loss of forest has decreased in recent years, the world is still losing about [80 square miles] [200 sq km] of forest a day.”​—FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS, ITALY.

In January 2009, five pirates drowned just after their group reportedly received a $3,000,000 (U.S.) ransom for a Saudi oil tanker. The body of one of them washed ashore with $153,000 in cash in a plastic bag in his pocket.​—ASSOCIATED PRESS, SOMALIA.

Youths Consider Peers Spoiled

According to the newspaper de Volkskrant, young people in the Netherlands “feel that their peers are being spoiled” and that they “receive too much encouragement to feel good about themselves, resulting in a lack of consideration toward others.” Among people aged 16 to 24, “no less than 2 out of every 3 . . . feel that young people’s rights are no longer balanced with their duties,” reports the newspaper. The general opinion is that “youths demand a lot . . . and seldom ask themselves what they can contribute to society.”

Children Make Lunch

When a Japanese school principal sought ways to get parents and children to spend more time together, the school adopted his idea to have pupils prepare their own lunch boxes one day a month. Now hundreds of schools do the same. “Children are not expected to do everything themselves from the start,” says Japan’s IHT Asahi Shimbun. “Each grade has its own goal. Children in the lower elementary grades enlist their families to help come up with a menu and shop for ingredients. . . . The focus in the upper grades is on drawing up a balanced menu.” The result? “Schools have reported that children’s cooking skills improved, less food was wasted and families had something new to talk about,” says the newspaper. Children also claim “to have learned to appreciate what their parents do for them.”

Cleanup at the South Pole

Last year, as part of a special ecological program, Russian polar specialists removed 360 tons of waste from Antarctica in a general cleanup. Garbage dumped near research stations at the South Pole has included unused building materials, broken machinery, and empty fuel barrels. “According to the protocol for the ecological protection of the southernmost tip of the earth, every country must take out its own garbage,” reports the Russian magazine Itogi. “The most diligent in carrying out their obligations are the Japanese.”