|BRIEFS: USA & WORLD|
Issue Date: March 25, 2005
Publishers asked for licenses
WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Treasury Departments Office of Foreign Assets Control, which is charged with preventing U.S. citizens and corporations from trading with enemies of the state, has been requiring U.S. publishers to obtain licenses to publish works from sanctioned countries, according to a report in the latest Foreign Policy magazine.
The crackdown has impeded publication in the United States of the memoirs of Shirin Ebadi, the 2003 Nobel Prize-winning Iranian activist lawyer, and Cornell University Press Field Guide to the Birds of Cuba. Iran and Cuba are sanctioned countries. Foreign Policy said the foreign assets office is scrutinizing academic journals and university presses in particular.
Meanwhile, The Associated Press has reported that the average fine for corporations doing business with countries labeled as state sponsors of terror has dropped from $50,000 before the Sept. 11 attacks to less than $19,000 today.
Sex fixation called devils work
WASHINGTON -- The leaders of the Episcopal church in the United States and the Anglican church in South Africa said a global schism over homosexuality and distracts the church from its real mission in the world.
Episcopal Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold and his counterpart from Cape Town, Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane, blamed U.S. conservatives for making sexuality the international focus of the church.
I think the endless fixation on sexuality is the devils work, Griswold said. So much psychic energy goes into this one area that issues of hunger and disease, poverty and civil war get overlooked.
Ndungane, in Washington to push for action on international poverty relief and development programs, agreed. Its about time that we ... be energized as Anglicans in faith and action seeking to do Gods mission in the world, he said.
Religion newsweekly honored
WASHINGTON -- Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, the PBS newsmagazine hosted by Bob Abernethy, has been honored with a 2005 Wilbur Award from the Religion Communicators Council for Father Joe: Slum Priest. The feature profiles Redemptorist Fr. Joe Maier, who has lived 30 years in the infamous Klong Toey slum in Bangkok, Thailand.
Transcripts and videos of the programs are available at www.pbs.org/religionandethics.
Taco Bell boycott called off
ORLANDO, Fla. -- In a victory for migrant tomato pickers in Florida, fast-food giant Taco Bell has agreed to a penny-per-pound increase in wages. The March 8 agreement between Taco Bells parent company, Yum Brands, and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers ends a boycott that had won support from a number of Christian churches.
Labor leader Lucas Benitez said the agreement establishes a new standard of social responsibility for the fast-food industry. Yum Brands also owns Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut, A&W and Long John Silvers.
We recognize that Florida tomato workers do not enjoy the same rights and conditions as employees in other industries, and there is a need for reform, said Emil Brolick, president of Taco Bell. Previously, a typical tomato picker would have earned about 40 cents for each 32 pound bucket of tomatoes picked, a rate that had not changed since 1978.
Florida Catholic bishops had supported the workers negotiations, and since 1994, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, the churchs domestic antipoverty program, has regularly funded the coalitions grass-roots organizing efforts with grants of between $25,000 and $35,000.
Church denies excommunication
MANILA -- As Catholic bishops and their lay and Muslim partners intensify their fight against the governments family-planning program, church officials deny they are excommunicating health care workers.
Cardinal Ricardo Vidal of Cebu would advise health care workers involved in the Department of Healths Safe Pregnancy program, family-planning campaign, not to receive Communion or other sacraments, but he could not deny them the sacraments, the prelates secretary Fr. Agustin Ancajas said March 10 responding to media coverage of the issue.
Congress has been debating a bill that would provide incentives to participants of the health departments family-planning efforts. The bill reads in part: sustainable human development is better assured with a manageable population of healthy, educated and productive citizens, which they cite as the goal of the bill.
In a Feb. 18 pastoral letter, Hold On to Your Precious Gift, the Philippines bishops rejected as myth the theory that population growth stunts economic development. The Philippines has a population growth rate of 2.36 percent a year, one of the highest rates in Asia.
Canadians feel snubbed
TORONTO -- Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has rejected an invitation to attend a joint meeting of Canadian and American bishops next month, resulting in uncharacteristically pointed accusations by the Canadian church of a snub over the issue of homosexuality.
The message it sends to us is that at the moment he does not want to be associated with the Canadians, said Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, head of the Anglican Church of Canada.
The refusal of Williams, the spiritual head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, widens a global rift among Anglicans. Last month, primates of the communions 38 autonomous branches asked Canadian and U.S. churches to voluntarily withdraw for three years from its Consultative Council because of their acceptance of gay marriage and the ordination of gay bishops.
Pans and pita protests
RAMALLAH -- Waving pans and pitas (flat Arab bread) over their heads, thousands of unemployed Palestinians protested March 12 outside the legislative council building, demanding the Palestinian Authority act to open the Israeli-Palestinian border crossings to allow them to return to work in Israel.
Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas] -- We are hungry, the protesters chanted, reported ynetnews.com, a news Web site of the Yedioth Group, Israels largest media company. The unemployment rate among Palestinians in the Gaza Strip is between 35 to 40 percent.
National Catholic Reporter uses the following news services: AsiaNews, Catholic News Service, Latin America Press, Pacific News Service, Religion News Service and UCA News.
National Catholic Reporter, March 25, 2005
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