Forerunner, "WorldWatch," December 1996


A volcano under Europe's largest glacier erupted a second time on November 6, just as the flooding caused by the earlier eruption began to recede. Floodwater gushing from beneath the Vatnajokull glacier formed a vast pool that burst, inflicting heavy damage to roads and bridges along Iceland's south coast.


Experts at a late October medical conference in Paris warned that epidemics—like cholera, sleeping sickness and meningitis—were becoming increasingly frequent, "and the means to control them are extremely limited."

European Union

» French President Jacques Chirac, declaring the Middle East peace process in danger, said it is time for the EU to co-sponsor Arab-Israeli peace talks and contribute proposals as well as money.

» The EU's 15 member states met in Turin, Italy, and agreed to overhaul the Union to accept new members. They decided that a tight timetable is necessary to allow the 12 Eastern European states that desire entry to join the EU by early 1998.

Medical Database

President Clinton signed a bill into law that implements a plan, starting January 1, 1997, to make all medical histories the business of the federal government and its authorized agents. Experts are now working on the "Master Patient Index" that will record every American's medical record from cradle to grave. All individuals will be assigned a unique ID number.


France supports giving Germany a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, considering its role in Europe and the world. In response, Germany supports France on NATO reform, which would allow more Europeans to lead the alliance's commands, staffs and forces. Europe could then act unilaterally and with less U.S. interference.


Scientists in several Midwestern states have received hundreds of reports of frogs with deformed or missing legs and missing or sunken eyes. To date, they are uncertain as to the cause of these deformities—pesticides, parasites, radiation from ozone depletion or a combination of factors. The risk to humans is also unknown.


Yassir Arafat said he prefers a complete breakdown of the peace process to accepting anything less than the full Oslo Accords, and he could not prevent a new intifada if Palestinians dislike the results of the ongoing talks. On October 21, he told Palestinian refugees: "When we stopped the intifada, we did not stop the jihad for the establishment of a Palestinian state, the capital of which is Jerusalem. . . . We know only one word: jihad, jihad, jihad."

Roman Catholic Church

Pope John Paul II says he sees no conflict between religious teachings and evolution. He writes, "Today . . . new knowledge leads to recognition of the theory of evolution as more than a hypothesis."