1. Despite the recent Northern Ireland peace agreement (CT, July 13, 1998, p. 18), three Catholic children burned to death in a July 12 arson attack on their Belfast home. Threats of violence marked the annual July parades of the Protestant fraternal organization, Orange Order, in Portadown. Several hundred marchers camped out at Drumcree Church in a standoff with British police, who blocked the parade from reaching the mostly Catholic Garvaghy Road. Protestant rioters in Belfast objected to the blockade by torching vehicles and throwing stones at police.

2. The British House of Commons voted June 22 to lower the age of consent for homosexual acts from 18 to 16, the same as the age of consent for heterosexuals. Most Britons opposed the measure, according to opinion polls. Martyn Eden, public affairs director of the Evangelical Alliance, believes the government has ignored morality in the legislation. "The law may decide when is an age of consent for these acts, but that doesn't make it right," Eden says.

3. Four missionaries with the Mennonite-affiliated Nueva Vida, or New Life, in Guatemala were released unharmed just hours after being abducted June 29 near Sayaxche, about 150 miles north of Guatemala City. The kidnappers, who demanded $334,000 in ransom, released the Mennonite hostages, Otto Dueck, 19; Jenny Glick, 23; Barbara Stoltzfus, 57; and Stoltzfus Cosigua, 27, before escaping during a shootout with police.

4. In a move to end weeks of racial and political violence (CT, April 27, 1998, p. 22), Guyana president Janet Jagan and opposition leader Desmond Hoyte signed an agreement July 2 calling for constitutional reforms as advocated by some of the country's top religious leaders. The changes will create a commission ...

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