News & Reviews

Issue: "Taking on the thugs," Nov. 6, 1999

Payne Stewart crossed over in time
Golf course designer Bruce Borland arose early Monday, Oct. 25, at his home in Jupiter, Fla., to drive 120 miles north to Samford. He had canceled his commercial flight to Dallas to fly there instead with golf great Payne Stewart in a chartered jet. It would be an opportunity to discuss plans for a new golf course in Texas-and to enjoy some Christian fellowship. Mr. Stewart, 42, known on the links for his trademark knickerbockers and tam-o'-shanter cap, was riding the crest of a comeback wave. In his career he'd won 18 tournaments and was professional golf's eighth top money earner, but he'd been in a slump. Then, in June, a 15-foot putt on the last hole gave him the U.S. Open Championship. The turnaround in his 20-year career coincided with a turnaround in his personal life. His two children, enrolled in a school run by First Baptist Church in Orlando, persuaded him to start attending church with his wife, Tracey. "He asked Jesus to come into his life, and that was a big part of what was happening in his life," said Sunday-school teacher Joe Castrovono. Among other things, Mr. Stewart put his money where his heart was. Last month, for example, he gave $500,000 to First Baptist. Mr. Borland, 40 years old and chairman of the board of elders at 1,000-member Palm Beach Community Church, boarded the chartered 10-seat Learjet 35 at its Samford base on Oct. 25. The plane stopped in nearby Orlando to pick up Mr. Stewart and two sports agents, Robert Fraley, 46, and Van Ardan, 45. Mr. Ardan was a member of Orlando First Baptist; Mr. Fraley, a former quarterback at the University of Alabama, was a member of Orangewood Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Maitland, Fla. The pilot was Michael Kling, 43, formerly a pastor at a small charismatic church, and the co-pilot was Stephanie Bellegarrigue, 27. By the time the plane reached Gainesville, Fla., where it was to turn west, the crew was not responding to air traffic controllers. With military jets tracking it and reporting no sign of life aboard, the plane continued going northwest on autopilot. Mrs. Stewart tried calling her husband on his cell phone; there was no answer. The plane ran out of fuel and crashed in a soggy field in South Dakota some 1,400 miles later. Investigators theorized a slow decompression had occurred or fumes had leaked into the cabin; everyone aboard likely was dead before the plane left Florida. Man knows not his time
Songwriter, legislator die
What's the purpose of work? According to the Bible, it's to glorify God. But among those who don't understand that, and among those who do but become weary at doing good, Hoyt Axton's evocative 1974 country song Boney Fingers ("Work your fingers to the bone, what do you get? Boney fingers, boney fingers") became a hit. Mr. Axton died last week at age 61 at his ranch home in Montana, after suffering two severe heart attacks. His best known song was probably Joy to the World (with its line, "Jeremiah was a bullfrog"). Three Dog Night's recording of it was No. 1 on the charts for six straight weeks in 1971, making it the top hit of that year. John Chafee, senator from Rhode Island since 1976, also died. In death as in life, the liberal Republican was lionized by liberal newspapers. The Washington Post commented, "The Senate will be a lesser place without his independence." But John Chafee showed little independent thinking when it came to abortion: He was a reliable vote for the Roe vs. Wade regime. Planned Parenthood's Gloria Feldt lamented her loss of a "longtime supporter and respected champion of ... the freedom to choose." Mr. Chafee was different in some ways from the new generation of selfish pro-aborts. He interrupted his schooling at Yale to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II, and became a combat Marine at Guadalcanal. After earning his law degree from Harvard, Mr. Chafee reenlisted and led a rifle company in the Korean War. He was a Rhode Island state legislator, governor, Navy secretary, and 22-year veteran of the Senate, and showed a civility that is increasingly rare in politics. It's sad that his record of self-sacrifice was marred by a willingness to sacrifice the defenseless. Israel opens up land link as leaders prepare to meet
Mideast passage
Israel has opened a long-delayed passage between the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The land link, through Israel, makes it possible for residents from the two separate Palestinian-controlled areas to commute for the first time. Since 1993, only Palestinians with work permits have been allowed to enter Israel from the two Palestinian-controlled territories, and they were not allowed to cross from one area to the other. The 28-mile route enables residents of poverty-stricken Gaza to seek jobs in the more prosperous West Bank, but in the first week of operation, cultural tensions between the two segregated areas-West Bank residents are more Western than the conservative Gazans-were already evident. "We can hardly find jobs," said Radi Suhail, a 22-year-old waiter in Ramallah's Tel al Amar Cafe. "Now, we will have to compete with guys who will take less" money to work. Tension also flared in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, showcase site of millennium festivities in Israel. Palestinian souvenir seller Abu Ihaliel was killed by Israeli security forces after he allegedly tried to stab a soldier. The soldiers clashed with angry Palestinians following his funeral. Eight civilians were wounded and tear gas hung over the entrance to the town near Rachel's tomb. The violence added to the delicate atmosphere surrounding this week's summit in Oslo, recent home of Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking. Leaders from Israel, the Palestinian areas, and the United States are expected to gather for the first time in nearly 11 months on Nov. 1-2. It is the first high-level meeting since Ehud Barak and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat set a September 2000 deadline for a final peace. At least one entrepreneur has found a way to make peace pay. Former lawmaker Abdel Wahab Darawsheh announced that he and a Jewish partner will set up a wedding chapel for Israelis in Palestinian-ruled Jericho. The Vegas-style venture will save Jewish couples who want to avoid rabbinical marriages the trouble of a trip to Cyprus. Civil marriages cannot be performed in Israel, but Palestinians see a way to make money: The Palestinian Authority will collect marriage registration fees from the chapel. World in brief

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