Dispatches > The Buzz

The Buzz

Issue: "2004 Election: Clinch time," Oct. 30, 2004

Politics Just how close is the presidential election? Close enough that John Kerry would turn in his surfboard and pick up a shotgun in an effort to woo the Field & Stream vote. Mr. Kerry took a highly publicized hunting trip in Ohio on Oct. 21, hoping to convince sportsmen in the big swing state that his record on strict gun control wouldn't endanger their favorite pastime.

Meanwhile, President Bush headed to Pennsylvania for the 40th time, buoyed by a slew of polls that showed the race inching his way. While an ABC News poll released on Oct. 21 gave the president a 5-point edge nationally, experts caution that only a handful of swing states really matter. Tracking those states for The Wall Street Journal, pollster John Zogby found that "President Bush posted his best performance since June."

Israel Vindication is a long time coming for Ze'ev Bern. Two years ago the Israeli Christian was fired from his job as a school computer technician after the Orthodox Jewish group Yad Le'Achim accused him of evangelizing children. On Oct. 20, a judge ordered him and his old employer, the Petach Tivka municipality, to settle out of court. His Messianic church encouraged Mr. Bern to press charges against the municipality because the anti-missionary Yad Le'Achim has targeted other members of their congregation, according to Pastor Baruch Maoz. Losing this case would set an unwelcome precedent for Israeli Christians. "It will expose other Christians to this harassment," Mr. Maoz said. "It will say something about the nature of Israeli society and the society the court is willing to let Israel become." If the sides do not reach an agreement by Nov. 5, the case will go back to court.

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Iraq The UN plans to oversee elections in Montana-sized Iraq with a team of monitors insufficient to cover even Connecticut. That's the complaint of Iraq Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari after learning the UN is sending 35 officials-at least 250 election workers fewer than it dispatched to East Timor-to supervise planning for the January polls. But the Iraqi officials are criticizing the meager commitment as a deliberate shortfall designed to delay or doom the electoral process.

British citizen Margaret Hassan became the highest-profile civilian to be abducted when unidentified gunmen kidnapped her Oct. 19 outside her office. Ms. Hassan, country director of CARE International, worked for 25 years to supply clean water and medical care to Iraqis. Al Jazeera aired a grainy video the same day showing Ms. Hassan tensely sitting on a couch. Her Iraqi husband begged her captors to release her "in the name of humanity, Islam, and brotherhood." CARE suspended its operations the next day. Since the war began, more than 150 foreigners have been abducted in Iraq, and about 30 killed.

Law The Florida Supreme Court on Oct. 21 refused to reconsider its ruling last month against lawmakers who ordered that Terri Schiavo's feeding tube be reinserted six days after her husband had it removed. Michael Schiavo says his wife would want the tube removed, but her parents strongly disagree. Gov. Jeb Bush had brought the case back to the court, and his attorneys say he may appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Religion Philadelphia police on Oct. 10 arrested 11 Christians, charging them with felonies, including criminal conspiracy, rioting, and "ethnic intimidation," a "hate crime" under city law. Michael Marcavage and his group were preaching the gospel during "Outfest," a homosexual event, when a gay group confronted them, blocking their path. Police arrived and ordered the Christians to leave, but Mr. Marcavage refused, saying his group had a right to remain on public property. American Family Association attorney Brian Fahling said a videotape of the incident shows that "Michael and his group are clearly the ones being interfered with." A hearing in the case is set for mid-December.

Sports First there was the injured Kirk Gibson's famous World Series home run, now there's Curt Schilling's heroic seven innings in Game 6 of the ALCS. Most medical and baseball experts counted Mr. Schilling, a Boston ace, out of this year's ALCS, since he would need surgery to fix a junked ankle with frayed tendons. But with blood oozing from his surgically sutured ankle, Mr. Schilling allowed just one hit-a home run-while Red Sox batters built a lead. The emotion from the Game 6 win carried over to the next day when the Red Sox won the series with a 10-3 win at Yankee Stadium.

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