This Week

Issue: "Flawed to the Ameri-Corps," Oct. 19, 1996

Church burnings

"There clearly are underlying racial tensions [in the South] and they manifest themselves in church burnings," claimed Mary Frances Berry of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights at an Oct. 9 news conference. The press briefing was called to announce results of the commission's six-state study conducted in response to a series of church fires this year. Evidence collected by the Justice Department undercut the study's conclusions: More than one-third of the suspects arrested in black church burnings are black. Also, most church burnings over the past two years have involved predominantly white churches. A 13-year-old girl who admitted burning down a black church in Charlotte, N.C., was sentenced Oct. 8 to 200 hours of community service, a year's probation, and mental health treatment. "I'm sorry," the teenager told the Rev. Larry Hill, pastor of Matthews Murkland Presbyterian Church, at the sentencing. She and the pastor then hugged each other.

"Kneel for peace"

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat warned Oct. 10 that his people "will not be forced to kneel [in exchange] for peace." Mr. Arafat's strong words to the Palestinian Legislative Council came after four days of fruitless discussions with the Netanyahu government over terms of an Israeli troop withdrawal from the largely Palestinian West Bank city of Hebron. Mr. Arafat had negotiated a withdrawal agreement with Mr. Netanyahu's predecessor, but the Netanyahu government says that agreement fails to provide adequately for the security of Israeli settlers in the area. Earlier in the week, King Hussein of Jordan, the Arab leader who had been most receptive to Mr. Netanyahu, took the Israeli prime minister to task in an interview with an Arabic newspaper, warning that unless definite steps were taken to advance negotiations with the Palestinians, the region could be headed for war. For his part, Mr. Netanyahu told the Boston Globe that he simply is looking out for Israel's best interests. n Communist crackdowns An American drifter who became a Christian last year while serving time on a drunk-driving charge in Alaska is now in a North Korean prison charged with espionage. Evan Carl Hunziker, 26, who apparently went to China earlier this year to do mission work, crossed into North Korea for unknown reasons. "He probably thought he was going to do those people a favor, teach them the gospel or something," his father told The Washington Post. In China, pro-democracy activist Liu Xia was sentenced to three years in a labor camp for calling on the Communist Party to honor promises to allow freedom of speech and assembly. Another pro-democracy demonstrator was missing and may also have been sent to a labor camp, reported The New York Times.

Textbook surgery

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Pope John Paul underwent surgery Oct. 8 to remove an inflamed appendix, an operation that reportedly went in textbook fashion. Doctors refused to discuss any other physical problems the 76-year-old pontiff may have.

Mr. October

The bottom of the ninth is fast approaching for the Dole/Kemp ticket. Both sluggers-in the words of conservative columnist George Will-refused to swing at "hanging curve ball[s]" served up by debate moderator Jim Lehrer in presidential and vice-presidential debates Oct. 6 and 9 respectively. A Lehrer question gave Mr. Dole the opportunity to raise the "character" issue against Mr. Clinton; the PBS broadcaster's opening question to Mr. Kemp noted GOP dissatisfaction with Mr. Dole's failure to address the issue. Mr. Kemp responded: "It is beneath Bob Dole to go after anyone personally." Indeed, criticism of the Clinton administration's ethics came from those beneath Bob Dole-on the campaign organizational chart. Spokesman Nelson Warfield, hours before the debate began, answered a reporter's question about whether the candidate would talk about cabinet appointments in the unlikely event of a Dole presidency. Mr. Warfield said the focus would "more likely" be on Clinton associates who "are now in federal penitentiaries." Two days after the debate, when reporters caught Mr. Dole shaking hands with supporters and referring to Mr. Clinton as "Bozo," Mr. Warfield quipped, "If the red rubber nose fits, wear it." Mr. Kemp, in his debate with Mr. Gore Oct. 9, pressed economic issues-but did criticize the administration's abortion record, an issue absent from the presidential debate. Mr. Kemp spoke of the "ugly and gruesome" partial-birth abortion procedure, but said "this country should not be torn asunder over this debate." Mr. Gore did not back down: "We will never allow a woman's right to choose to be taken away." Mr. Clinton's lead in the polls appears in no danger of being taken away. Post-debate surveys by CBS, ABC, and CNN/USA Today/Gallup showed the president's lead anywhere between 16 and 21 percentage points. The CBS poll found two-thirds of respondents (the highest percentage since 1988) believing the economy is in good shape; Mr. Clinton's job approval is at 61 percent among those polled-the highest in his presidency.

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