Love and Marriage in Australia

SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, Dec 27—Couples planning marriage in Australia can now draw up binding agreements on how they want their married life to work out, the daily reported.

Couples down under can now settle issues like who does the chores, holiday destinations, number of children or the frequency of marital relations—as well as who gets the property and children when they divorce.

As pre-nuptial agreements become legally binding, replacing love with stony pessimism, the new contracts are expected to be widely embraced on the island continent, especially among those marrying for a second time. Almost a third of marriages in Australia currently end in divorce.

Analysts interviewed by the Herald said the contracts could cause insecurity in marriages and would most likely benefit men eager to protect their assets.

God Prominent in New Russian Anthem

THE MOSCOW TIMES, Jan. 4—Shortly after midnight on Jan. 1, major Russian television stations broadcast the country's new national anthem. The new song, which has the same tune as the anthem for the Soviet Union, refers to Russia as a “holy country” that is “protected by God,” the newspaper reported.

The new lyrics were personally approved by Russian president Vladimir Putin, a former communist. They were written by Sergei Mikhalkov, the 87-year-old poet who co-authored the original words for Stalin in 1944.

Unlike the Soviet versions, the new lyrics have no mention of Lenin or the Communist Party. But the new anthem preserves some of the key phrases of the old one, including the first words of the chorus, “Be glorious, Fatherland!”

“The anthem is not simply a symbol,” Putin said at a reception Dec. 30 where the new version was played for the first time, the Times reported. “It is impossible to live without it.”

Moluccan Bishop Sends SOS to United Nations

FIDES, Dec. 28—“We call on the international community in the name of human values, human dignity, human rights, order and security of people's lives, to help the Indonesian government to end the savagery and violence in the Moluccas and the forced conversions,” Moluccan Bishop Petrus Canisius Mandagi wrote in an emergency appeal Dec. 27 to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, the news service reported.

Bishop Mandagi said that the Indonesian government “has proved not to be able to end the conflict in the Moluccas” and that “the Republic of Indonesia has failed to guarantee and maintain justice and human rights by a lack of seriousness and constancy, honesty and integrity.” Consequently, the bishop wrote, “what prevails is the law of the jungle, barbarism and savagery.”

Fighting between religious communities in the Moluccas Islands started 23 months ago. Since then there has been an escalation of violence, by both the local population and by government authorities and institutions. Press accounts have reported widespread incidents of rape, murder, theft and forced conversions by adherents of the Muslim religious majority against Christians.