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She Now Knows the True Meaning of an Act of Faith

--Members of the Faith Tabernacle Church in Oklahoma City traditionally donate their time and money refurbishing the houses of the poor in Mexico and elsewhere. But this time, they decided to do their good works closer to home. While fellow church member Ruth Dowdell was away on vacation, the congregation moved in to fix up her dilapidated house. When Dowdell, 63, left to visit relatives, it had a leaky roof, holes in the walls, gaps in the plumbing and hazardous wiring. When she returned, it smelled of fresh paint and hummed with new appliances. “Oh, man, this is neat!” Dowdell exclaimed as she examined the new carpets, cabinets and curtains. “This is God’s doing.” D.A. Counce, who supervised the project, estimates the donations included between 3,000 and 4,000 working hours and cash contributions of $1,100. Counce figured the job, if contracted out, would have cost $30,000.

--Adm. Robert E. Peary may not have been the first person to reach the North Pole after all. Recently deciphered navigational notes taken by the explorer suggest that he faked his claim in 1909 and was in fact no closer than 121 miles from his goal, according to historian Dennis Rawlins of Baltimore. Rawlins’ research suggests that Peary led his party to believe they had indeed reached the North Pole because supplies were running low and warming weather threatened to make floating ice too dangerous. He said Peary later gave the document containing his notes to his wife for safekeeping, and it was kept for many years in a safe deposit box. Rawlins said he came upon the document by accident at Johns Hopkins University. Peary’s claim has always been controversial because he was never able to provide detailed documentation to back it up. If it is disproved, the first person to have reached the North Pole by any means would be Roald Amundsen of Norway, who flew over it in 1926. The first person to stand at the pole would be Joseph Fletcher, who flew there aboard a U.S. Air Force plane in 1952.

--Let the “spin doctors” try to figure out the significance of this one. George Bush, the 12-year-old grandson of the Repubican presidential candidate, was recently elected vice president of the Gulliver Middle School in Coral Gables, Fla., with 53% of the vote. His father, Jeb Bush, doesn’t necessarily take the victory as an omen. “I just take it as a great victory for a great son,” he said. “I can’t stretch it into a national mandate, although 53% is a nice round number.”


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