A nun is a woman who works in the Catholic Church. Many nuns wear this type of garment, although many nuns often dress in ordinary clothing as well:
They sneaked in because they wanted to show that it would be easy for terrorists to get into such a facility and they wanted to protest against nuclear weapons and war (they wanted to show that they believe it is wrong to create nuclear weapons and to prepare for war).
What is shocking is that the nun is 84 years old and she got into the very center of this very important facility. She and her fellow protesters were there for 2 hours before they were arrested by the police. Therefore, security was a joke at this facility (there was no security).
So, in reality, this nun and her fellow protesters did the US government a favor - they showed that terrorists can just, basically, walk into US nuclear facilities and steal uranium. Yet, a US Judge has sentenced this nun to spend the next three years in jail. This is, in my opinion, a disgrace (something morally/ethically wrong that should be an embarrassment).
The judge is named Amul Thapar. I believe that he did something very wrong. In my opinion a good judge tempers justice with mercy (to 'temper' something is to soften something...so I am saying a good judge needs to show mercy or kindness as well as punishing people). Also, if the security guards or the government had been doing their jobs, an 84 year old woman would not have been able to get into the center of the facility. Throw US government officials in jail instead!
This is Judge Amul Thapar. You might disagree and feel that he did the right thing.
Vocabulary to help you understand the article:
a complex - a group of buildings
to be sentenced - a sentence is a punishment involving spending time in a jail
defacing - if you deface something, you don't destroy the thing, but you damage it and make it look ugly. For instance, if someone defaces your property, he might paint something on your property or if someone defaces your car, he might put a scratch into your car
a bunker - a giant room with thick walls
a demonstration - in this case an action
exposed serious security flaws - showed big problems with the security system
much longer criminal histories - the others had been arrested before for protesting other things, they were definitely not criminals
detonated - exploded
a dirty bomb - this is a bomb that also contains uranium; if such a bomb is exploded, radiation will spread and cause cancer in many people
bomb-grade uranium - uranium pure enough it can be used in a bomb immediately
contractors - the security guards who worked there, worked for an independent company (a contractor)
leniency - to be lenient is to be forgiving or to show mercy; the opposite of lenient is strict
a miracle - something that happens with God's help, something good that science can't explain
to sabotage - this is to deliberately destroy something so that it can't work any more
the plant - the facility
federal - US government
an activist - someone who takes action to correct something that is wrong
banners - long signs
hammered off a small chunk - they used a hammer to break off a piece of the bunker. They wanted to show that if they could do that, a terrorist could easily do something worse.
restricted area - an area that nobody is supposed to go to unless they are authorized
offering to break bread with them - basically to share bread as a sign of caring about each other and showing a love of God and others
the inspector general - the top person who investigates things that might be wrong at a government organization
a scathing report - a super critical report
a felony - this is the most serious type of crime; to be charged with a crime is when the police and prosecutors formally state that you have done something wrong and bring you to trial before a judge in a courtroom.
to be stunned - shocked, very surprised
time they had served - so they had spent 9 months in jail, so their lawyers asked the judge to sentence all of them to 9 months and then let them go home. So basically the lawyers were saying, "Look, we know you feel you have to punish these people to prevent (to deter) others from trying to break into nuclear facilities, but they have already been punished enough - please let them go home."
their record of goodwill - so at one point the writer of this story said they had criminal histories but now he is saying they had a record of goodwill. If you have a sense of goodwill you want good things for other people.
no remorse - they were not sorry for what they had done; yet, why should they have been sorry?
So what do you think? Should the judge have been more lenient? Why do you think the judge was so severe in his sentencing?