Dispatches > In Brief

In Brief

"In Brief" Continued...

Issue: "GOP: No room for error," Oct. 19, 2002

One child, no choice

The United States no longer stands alone against coercive family planning in China. Britain's Foreign Office has-for the first time-included a section in its annual human-rights report condemning China's one-child policy.

The report highlights "enforced sterilizations, the abortion of female fetuses, and the abandonment of female children" as sources of concern for the Blair government and "for many Chinese people." While the Bush administration closed off family-planning funding to the UN over China's policy, European governments until now have not debated it.

"The wall of silence [with] which the Foreign Office surrounded forced abortion in China has been broken," said Anthony Ozimic of Britain's Society for the Protection of Unborn Children. But he acknowledged: "Britain and the EU still has a long way to go if it wants to match the United States' record in defending the human rights of Chinese women." - Mindy Belz

Flu's clues

Fall season begins flu season, and signs are popping up everywhere from pharmacies to medical clinics urging inoculation. This year, doctors want to see babies and toddlers vaccinated along with their elders. They say that influenza's high-risk group includes children under age 2, nursing home residents, and women in the first trimester of pregnancy.

In previous years health officials have faced concerns about vaccine supply, but not this year. According to federal health officials, about 94 million doses will ship this year, with shots at grocery and drug stores costing around $20.

Influenza infects 20 percent of the U.S. population every season, according to the CDC. About 14,000 flu sufferers are hospitalized and 20,000 die. Henry Schein, a New York-based vaccine distributor, claims the flu kills as many people as HIV and far more than exotic viruses like West Nile.

HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson announced a policy that gives standing orders to Medicare and Medicaid health providers concerning flu shot reminders. This is supposed to simplify vaccination distribution.

Anglican uproar

A revolt among clergy in the Church of England is underway against incoming Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. He takes office next month and will be enthroned in February. The Church Society-which represents hundreds of conservative clergy-called on Archbishop Williams this month to recant his liberal views on homosexuality or resign.

The Society promised "direct action" if he doesn't, but didn't spell out details. The action could include protests at the enthronement, withholding of funds to central coffers, and inviting orthodox bishops from Africa or Asia to provide spiritual oversight of certain parishes.

Reform, a larger conservative network, and the more mainstream Church of England Evangelical Council also were expected to take strong stands against the archbishop's views.

Reform asked Archbishop Williams early this month to affirm that extramarital sex is unacceptable and to renounce his position on homosexuality. At first, he refused to respond. His office later released a clarification: His refusal doesn't mean he regards extramarital sex to be compatible with Christian morality. However, the statement confirmed that he is sympathetic to sex between homosexuals in "committed relationships." He followed up with a letter saying that as archbishop of Canterbury he will "state" the "majority teaching of the church" and uphold the church's discipline. The archbishop has admitted to knowingly ordaining a practicing homosexual, and he has dismissed the church's position on homosexuality as hypocritical.

The archbishop woke up to more bad news on Oct. 7: The Telegraph reported that its survey of 500 Church of England clergy found 54 percent disapprove the ordination of any practicing homosexual. One in four said they had seriously considered leaving the church, and that ordination of homosexuals was a main reason. | Edward E. Plowman

What Lili left behind

In the aftermath of Hurricane Lili, the initial relief that the Category 2 storm left no casualties gave way to the demoralizing realization that days of arduous drudgery lay ahead. Hundreds of southwest Louisiana residents suffered catastrophic property damage from high-velocity winds and collapsing trees (uprooted oaks and pines dotted neighborhoods, downtowns, and highways for miles). Thousands of homes, schools, and businesses were deprived of water and electricity for the better part of a week, requiring Wal-Marts to convert their parking lots into ice-distribution centers (limit: two bags per family). And with Lili numbering transmission towers among her victims, television and radio stations were relatively unhelpful. Generator and insurance ads proliferated on those stations that did manage to stay on the air.

Still, most people retained the use of their phones, and gas stations were pumping fuel in all but the hardest-hit areas within 24 hours of the hurricane's onset. One week later, with a cool front alleviating the post-hurricane humidity and many people intent on getting "back to normal," the drone of chainsaws and the smoke of burning wood were the most noticeable reminders of what many Louisiana residents were calling the worst hurricane they had ever seen. | Arsenio Orteza in Opelousas, La.

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