Dispatches > The Buzz
- If a school district permits community groups to meet on its property during off-hours, does it have the right to exclude religious groups? The Supreme Court announced last week that it will answer that question when it hears the appeal of the Good News Club, a youth-group Bible study denied permission to meet on public-school grounds in Milford, N.Y. Pastor Stephen Fournier's wife Darleen and 10-year-old daughter Andrea, a member of the club, sued when officials turned them down on the grounds that the club's meetings would be "the equivalent of religious worship." A federal trial judge and the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Milford school district policy.
- A move to grant Sudan one of three open seats on the United Nations Security Council went down to defeat after four rounds of voting on Oct. 10. Sudan failed to achieve the two-thirds majority needed in the world body after the United States campaigned against the radical Islamic government. Washington accused Khartoum of condoning terrorism, and human rights groups noted abuses in its long-running civil war against the south.
- Americans continue to borrow money in ever-increasing amounts. The Fed announced that consumer credit increased $13.4 billion during September-about 11 percent more than analysts expected. Credit card companies hold much of this debt. MBNA, which holds $84.7 billion in what it calls "managed loans," reported that its earnings were up about 27 percent in the last quarter. The company added 14.9 million new customers from July through September.
- Wiccan Bryan Lankford, first officer for the Texas Council of the Covenant of the Goddess, gave the invocation at the Oct. 4 meeting of the Dallas City Council. Mayor Ron Kirk had canceled an earlier invitation to Mr. Lankford, but changed his mind, he said, after learning more about Wicca. The two-minute pagan invocation drew protests, including from Cathie Adams of Texas Eagle Forum, who made a formal objection from the podium.
- Officials in Riverside County, Calif., announced that they would begin fingerprinting the homeless on a voluntary basis starting next month. They say it will provide a more reliable count of the homeless and help them get more federal money. Some homeless individuals and civil libertarians say the move is too intrusive.