News Bites

  • Last September's primary elections finally put an African American in Selma, Alabama's city hall—a first for the city. The new mayor, James Perkins (below), was 12 on the infamous "Bloody Sunday" in 1964 when state troopers attacked 600 peaceful civil rights marchers. Perkins defeated Joe Smitherman, 70, a former segregationist who had been Selma's mayor since 1964.
  • Nobility still has its place. Count Hans von Sponeck, a German nobleman and former U.N. official who resigned in protest of sanctions on Iraq, won England's Coventry Cathedral Prize for Peace. The count's father was a general executed for his opposition to Nazi war policy. "As a result, I grew up in a household opposed to violence," said von Sponeck. Hear! Hear!
  • Redbook named Million Mom March founder Donna Dees-Thomases as one of the top "Mothers and Shakers" making a positive contribution in the lives of children and families. What next? Helen Prejean on the cover of Elle?
  • Are we surprised that former Peruvian President Fujimori's "most trusted counselor," intelligence chief Vladimiro Montesinos, was a graduate of the U.S. Army School of the Americas in Ft. Benning, Georgia? Montesinos was videotaped last fall bribing a Fujimori opponent and was implicated in selling 10,000 AK-47 assault rifles to Colombian guerrillas, plus numerous other human rights abuses including torture, murder, and disappearances. Apparently, he got all A's.
  • Muggle shows mercy! J.K. Rowling, creator of Harry Potter, will share profits from her best-selling books with single mothers like herself, according to British media. Rowling recently donated a "six-figure sum" to the National Council for One Parent Families. "It makes me sad that nobody turns a hair to see the words ‘penniless' and ‘single mother' together in a sentence," Rowling said. Another blow struck against the forces of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named!
  • Edna St. Vincent Millay, the first woman to have received the Pulitzer Prize for poetry, has been inducted into the American Poet's Corner at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, joining literati such as Willa Cather, Langston Hughes, and William Faulkner. Millay is the unofficial patron saint of activists because of her famous line, "My candle burns at both ends; It will not last the night; But, ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—it gives a lovely light."
  • Bolivia's Oscar Olivera, who heads up a coalition called Defense of Water and Life, is the 2000 recipient of the Letelier-Moffit Human Rights award presented by the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C. Olivera's movement of church activists, environmentalists, artisans, and farmers argue that water is critical to the common good and should not be privatized.


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