News Briefs

Silence Please. A Catholic priest in Spain has installed a state-of-the-art electronic jamming system in the church to silence the ringers on cellular phones. In Salerno, Italy, Archbishop Gerardo Pierro asked Good Friday worshippers to give up their mobile phone for the day. In other words, hang up and pray.

Acting School. The actors in the controversial movie Black Hawk Down, about the 1993 U.S. military intervention in Somalia, trained for their roles as U.S. Rangers at Ft. Benning in Georgia, whose graduates are among the world's top human rights abusers. Surprisingly, one actor in the film, Brendan Sexton III, has critiqued the final product for lacking the provocative moral questions in the original script and for its racist depiction of Somalis.

Spring Forward. In February, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists moved the "Doomsday Clock," the symbol of global nuclear danger, from nine minutes before midnight to only seven minutes. Why? Bulletin editors cited the U.S. rejection of a series of arms control treaties and withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, and the increased threat of terrorists using nuclear material. The United States and Russia control 95 percent of the world's 31,000 known nuclear weapons.

Open Book. At the request of the Peruvian Truth Commission, the U.S. government has declassified documents detailing 20 years of human rights abuses in Peru. The commission is made up of two Catholic priests, an evangelical pastor, and six representatives of civil society. Forty-one of the documents are available online at the independent National Security Archive.

Movie Mogul. Films by conservative Christian billionaire Philip Anschutz may be showing at a theater near you. Joshua, a $9 million drama based on a book by Joseph Girzone, is a product of Epiphany Films, the "faith-based" division of Anschutz's Crusader Entertainment. The company plans to release 10 films next year.

Three Cheers! Last December, NBC became the first major network in 50 years to air advertisements for hard liquor. In April, religious, public health, and children's advocates scored an organizing victory when NBC pulled the ads in response to public pressure.

Sisters in Space. The sisters of Philadelphia's Mount St. Joseph Convent have put forward a shareholders' request that United Technologies Corporation provide a comprehensive report describing the company's involvement in space-based weaponization and an assessment of the potential financial, legal, and public relations liabilities involved.

Table Laws. Eating a home-cooked Amish meal may now be illegal, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. To augment their farm income, many Amish families cook meals for tourists but are not registered with state health agencies.

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