Our Times: September 2005

 
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60 Years ago in SIGNS

The cigarette is not the innocent little thing it appears to be,” begins an article in the September 10, 1945, SIGNS OF THE TIMES. “It is composed of tobacco and a few ingredients added for commercial purposes. It’s cheif content, however, is nicotine. It may come as a surprise to learn that nicotine is one on the most deadly poisons known to science.”
“I has long been recognised…that when the cigarette habit grips a boy it seldom releases him…We have known that nicotine is highly injurious to life, but some sympmtoms developed by the cigarette could not be atributed to nicotne. Experiments in the London Lancet…have thrown a sidelight on this. The smoke of the cigarette…contains…by-products known as aldehydes. Chief among these are furfural and acrolein. These by-products act cheifly upon the brain cells and nerve centres [and] are added by various makers…The aim of each manufacturer is to produce a cugarette that will grip so grip its user that it will for ever make him a victim of it.”

For more than a century SIGNS has promoted a healthful lifestyle, including exercise and a good diet, and condemned such practices as smoking which in recent years has been accepted as a health hazard.

Mobile Magazines

Two companies are combining online-only glossy magazines with mobile short message texting (SMS). The plan is to link mobile phone users to Internet publications, even when they are not online. The animated magazines, which can be “leafed” through like real magazines, feature links to music, film and other multimedia content, which is sponsored by advertisers or which can be bought and paid for from the same mobile phone account.

African Tragedy

The spread of HIV and AIDS in Africa should be tackled through fidelity and abstinence, not condoms, says newly installed Pope Benedict XVI. Though he described the AIDS epidemic in Africa as “cruel,” the pope explained that “the traditional teaching of the church has proved to be the only fail-safe way to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.” More than 60 per cent of the world’s 40 million HIV sufferers live in sub-Saharan Africa.

Hep-C Sufferers

US scientists have been able to create infectious hepatitis C in the lab for the first time, offering renewed hope of drugs to beat the virus. Currently, hepatitis C is treated with a combination of two drugs, but only 40 per cent of patients respond to the therapy. Around 3 per cent of the world’s population suffer from the virus, which causes chronic and sometimes fatal liver disease.

Why Did That Chicken …?

A chicken has walked free from court in Kern County, California, after her owners were fined for allowing Ophelia, a black Polish hen, to break the law by walking across the street. California State law bans “livestock” from highways, but not domestic pets, so lawyers successfully argued that the chook was a family pet and should not have been arrested.

Stop Now!

For 15 years, in defiance of a US Supreme Court ruling, Larry Booher taught Creationism in his high school biology class. He even compiled a textbook of sorts and passed out copies in three-ring binders. Now school officials have demanded that Booher “must teach evolution exclusively—observable scientific fact, not beliefs or religion.”

Some Act!

Chinese State Circus performer Song Atmin, skilled in Shaolin martial arts, has bricks smashed on his head by a fellow member of the circus wielding a sledgehammer at the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland in August. Shaolin martial arts are taught by monks of the Shaolin Temple, in Jilin Province, north-eastern China. The discipline includes breathing techniques to increase reaction speed—and block out pain.
—Reuters, Jeff J Mitchell