Dispatches > The Buzz

The Buzz

"The Buzz" Continued...

Issue: "Obama," Nov. 15, 2008

King David lived

Israeli archaeologists recently discovered a shard of pottery at the ruins of an ancient fortified city that is believed to date back to the time of King David. Researchers say carbon dating indicates the fragment, which they unearthed at the Elah Fortress in Khirbet Qeiyafa near Jerusalem, carries the earliest-known Hebrew text-about 1,000 years older than the famed Dead Sea Scrolls. Initial interpretation of the artifact suggests it was a legal text. Until now, archaeological evidence of King David's legendary kingdom has remained exceedingly sparse, leading many scholars to assert that the biblical account was a myth. Lead archaeologist Yosef Garfinkel says continued excavation of the 3,000-year-old site may finally provide clear evidence.

You've got mail

Delinquent borrowers with home mortgages through IndyMac Bank are getting a reprieve from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). Trouble is, the message is getting lost in the junk mail.

The FDIC has sent 35,000 notices of a generous program to reduce borrowers' total monthly payments after it assumed control of the overstretched California savings and loan in July. The offer includes potential interest rate reductions to as low as 3 percent, loan extensions to 40 years, and temporary waivers on interest for a portion of the loan balance. The financial industry held high hopes that such a program could serve as a model for other troubled lenders and borrowers.

The unforeseen snag: Only about half of the desperate homeowners targeted for the program have bothered to reply. FDIC officials speculate that many of those receiving letters have long ago stopped opening mortgage-related mail-too stressful.

Congo again

Battles that erupted in late October between the Congolese army and rebel forces under Laurent Nkunda are spiking a humanitarian crisis reminiscent of the confrontation 10 years ago between the government (of then Zaire) and rebels. It ultimately put the current government, led by former rebel Joseph Kabila, into power.

The conflict thus far has displaced more than 1 million people in the North Kivu province and driven thousands across borders into Uganda and Rwanda, according to Samaritan's Purse, which is airlifting supplies into Goma, the provincial capital. As many as 50,000 people have sought refuge in and around Goma despite rebel strongholds there. An 800-man UN peacekeeping force-the largest in the world-is holding the airport but could be pulled. An aid worker told World Relief, "I think Goma is going to fall," and humanitarian workers are staying in nearby Rwanda to escape fighting. World Relief is assisting 3,000 displaced families, and Seattle-based Mercy Corps is providing clean water to the area as well.

Nkunda vowed Nov. 4 to take his battle all the way to the capital, where lawmakers are asking the Kabila government to negotiate rather than reenact the fight of 10 years ago, which claimed the lives of more than 5 million Congolese.

Green gospel

HarperOne released an environmentally friendly Bible last month that uses green ink to highlight more than 1,000 Scripture passages addressing God's care for creation. Available in the New Revised Standard Version, The Green Bible features a cotton-linen cover and is published on recycled paper using soy-based ink. According to the publisher's website, "The Green Bible is the definitive movement Bible that shows that God is green and how we can care for and protect God's creation."

Somalia martyr

Muslim attackers beheaded a Christian aid worker in Somalia who converted from Islam and circulated a video of his death. Mansuur Mohammad, a 25-year-old World Food Program (WFP) worker, is one of 24 aid workers killed in Somalia this year alone. Militants from the al Shahab group intercepted Mohammad and a WFP driver on the morning of Sept. 23, according to Compass Direct News. The driver managed to escape, but Mohammad was paraded before villagers in Manyafulka who were told by the militant group to assemble for a feast. To the horror of the villagers, the militant leaders began to recite from the Quran, accusing Mohammad-who converted two years ago-of apostasy. A witness said Mohammad remained composed, never uttering a word, as his captors yelled "Allahu akbar" ("God is great") and then beheaded him. Some say video of his death is being circulated in an attempt to prevent Muslims from converting to Christianity.

Man knows not his time

Louis H. Evans Jr., pastor of National Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C., from 1973 to 1991, who counted President and Mrs. Ronald Reagan and other luminaries among his congregants, died Oct. 29 in Fresno, Calif., of ALS, or "Lou Gehrig's Disease." He was 82.

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