In the News and on the Air: 'Devil winds'

Alarming fire. Flamed by unpredictable Santa Ana winds, the arson wildfire in Southern California has burned 24,000 acres in just 24 hours. Four firefighters have died. Carrie Kahn has been covering the story and says "it's a very eerie sight." Local officials went on television last night appealing for information about the arsonist: "Turn that scum in, please."

Rural Rejection. With 11 days to go to the elections, Howard Berkes reports on a new survey showing rural support for Republican candidates may be slipping. The war in Iraq was the biggest issue cited in the poll by the Center for Rural Strategies. "I'm not happy with the war," postal worker Donna Saylor of Madison, Ind., told Berkes. "If Bush wants the war, send his family, too. Y'know when he gets his family over there, maybe he'll change his attitude"

Gay Marriage push. The president might be trying to change the subject. On the campaign trail in Iowa, he revived the gay marriage debate after this week's New Jersey Supreme Court decision. "Yesterday in New Jersey," President Bush said, "we had another activist court issue a ruling that raises doubts about the institution of marriage. I believe that marriage is a union between a man and a woman...":

The strategy might be working. "In general, this ruling should help Republicans energize their base of social conservatives," says NPR's Mara Liasson. "However, New Jersey doesn't have the concentration of socially conservative voters that other states do."

"This push on gay marriage comes not long after the Republican Party was embroiled in the Mark Foley scandal on Capitol Hill," notes NPR's Ken Rudin. "This is perhaps President Bush's attempt to divert the issue away from Mark Foley."

Hang on, Snoopy. And, good grief, the Great Pumpkin is 40 years old and Charlie Brown is 50 years old. Or at least the man who played him is. You can hear how he sounds then and now.

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