News Bites

Pram Time. Fifteen nonviolent demonstrators, including four children, occupied the Colombian consulate in Sydney, Australia, in August to protest U.S. House approval of a foreign aid bill that included an additional $676 million in mainly military aid to Colombia. The Colombian demonstrators-pushing strollers, waving flags, and chanting-were met with Sydney's largest anti-terrorist action in more than 20 years. The police deny that they overreacted.

Non Nuclearum. The world's smallest city-state has finally ratified the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. In a gesture intended to support nuclear disarmament-and indirectly oppose George W. Bush's missile defense shield-Vatican City has declared itself a Nuke Free Zone. The Swiss Guard, we're sure, were relieved.

Smoke Signals. U.S.-based Phillip Morris Inc., purveyors of Kraft foods, Miller beer, Gevalia coffee, and of course fine tobacco, has apologized for its recent report detailing how smokers' early deaths could save the Czech government money on health care, pensions, and housing for the elderly. Phillip Morris controls more than 80 percent of the Czech tobacco market.

Late Fee. Clara Harding received in July a government check for $150,000, but she hadn't won the lottery. The Department of Energy has begun compensation payments to America's nuclear weapons workers; Harding's husband died after prolonged exposure to toxic levels of uranium at the Paducah, Kentucky Gaseous Diffusion Plant. The DOE anticipates making payments of up to $150,000 to 4,000 sick plant workers out of the 600,000 people who have worked on nuclear weapons projects since the 1940s.

Mighty Mitzvah. More than 200 Israeli soldiers have refused for reasons of conscience to participate in the current repression of the Occupied Territories, according to the Israeli peace group Yesh Gvul. Nineteen have been imprisoned so far. Said jailed captain Dan Tamir, "As a man who believes in democracy and Jewish values...I will take no part in military actions whose purpose is perpetuation of the Israeli occupation."

Sister Act. Dorothy and Gwen Hennessey, Franciscan nuns and siblings (ages 88 and 68 respectively), are serving six months in a federal penitentiary in Illinois for protesting the U.S. military school at Ft. Benning, Georgia, that trains Latin American soldiers. In preparation, Sister Gwen read Clive Sharp's How to Survive Federal Prison Camp sent to her by a well-wisher.

I Thee Wed. Church of the Brethren members Sylvia and Harley Utz will be listed in the 2001 Guinness Book of World Records as having the longest marriage of any living couple. The Utzes, both 102, celebrated their 83rd wedding anniversary in June. They attribute their successful marriage to faith, a strong community, and living "a day at a time and taking whatever comes," Sylvia Utz said.

Have Something to Say?

Add or Read Comments on
"News Bites"
Launch Comments
By commenting here, I agree to abide by the Sojourners Comment Community Covenant guidelines