This Week

"This Week" Continued...

Issue: "Evolution Counter-Revolution," March 1, 1997

Half a loaf

A federal judge's injunction marking out a floating 15-foot First Amendment-free zone around persons en route to abortion businesses was too much even for liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In an 8-1 ruling--Clinton appointee Stephen Breyer was the lone dissenter--the high court Feb. 19 struck down one provision of an injunction covering abortion businesses in Rochester and Buffalo, N.Y., that forced pro-life sidewalk counselors to stay 15 feet away from abortion-minded mothers. &quotWe strike down the floating buffer zones around people entering and leaving clinics because they burden more speech than is necessary" to ensure legitimate government interests, Chief Justice William Rehnquist said for the court. But a separate 6-3 ruling upheld the constitutionality of the judge's order barring pro-life speech within a fixed zone of 15 feet from the entrances or driveways of abortion businesses. The ruling left intact a 1994 decision of the court upholding the constitutionality of a judge's injunction marking out a 36-foot fixed buffer zone that pro-lifers may not enter. Nevertheless, many pro-life groups--Operation Rescue, The Rutherford Institute, American Life League, and the Family Research Council--praised the split ruling. Paul Schenck, the pro-life activist from Buffalo who appealed the case, said he was pleased with the decision.

Story updates

After 19 bitter months, The Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News settled a strike with six newspaper unions, representing about 2,500 workers. Weekday circulation for the two papers has dropped 30 percent since the strike began. The IRS seized the Austin, Texas, house of atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair. House and contents will be auctioned to pay $250,000 in back taxes. Mrs. O'Hair disappeared 18 months ago.

Starr's west-coast trek

Days after losing control of the timing of the announcement that he would by summer quit his job to enter the world of academia, Whitewater special prosecutor Kenneth Starr gave a press conference Feb. 19 that suggested his Aug. 1 departure date is not firm. Mr. Starr also warned political observers and journalists that it is &quotwrong ... [and] dangerous to draw any conclusion" about the status of the probe on the basis of his intention to quit. The surprise Feb. 17 announcement came not from the independent counsel's office, but from the campus of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., where Mr. Starr will become dean of the school of law. Immediately after the news broke, Mr. Starr's office was silent. But friends and associates of the independent counsel weren't. Theodore B. Olson, friend of Mr. Starr and the lawyer representing key Whitewater witness David Hale, said, &quotIf he [were] about to embark on a prosecution of historic proportions, then he wouldn't at the same time be planning on leaving." Former Starr deputy Mark Tuohey told The Washington Post, &quotIf he leaves ... and there is an indictment pending against the president and the first lady, he's going to take a lot of heat for walking away from it." Presidential adviser James Carville, who had mounted a personal crusade against Mr. Starr, couldn't resist: &quotDeep down inside everybody knows he's a quitter now." Regardless of how much or little is accomplished before Mr. Starr gets his bags packed, if the investigation is not complete, the three-judge panel that appointed Mr. Starr will simply choose a replacement.

Caught in the Web

Thousands of smut-seeking Internet users are paying for their sin--in dollars and cents. The Federal Trade Commission uncovered and shut down what it called &quotone of the most insidious scams" FTC officials have ever seen. Computer scam artists instructed users surfing porn sites to download a special &quotimage viewer" that would allow them to see &quotadult" images. The downloaded program actually commandeered the users' modems, cut the existing Internet connection (usually a local phone call), and made an overseas call to an Internet provider in the former Soviet republic of Moldova. The long-distance meter kept running even after the user logged off, disconnecting only when he turned his computer off. Apparently, profit on the calls was shared by the Moldovan phone company and the scam artists. Police in Texas shut down what they called &quotone of the biggest" Internet porn sites in the world, housing a 150,000-photo library. The Dallas Morning News said the site had revenues of about half a million dollars a month.

Deng dead

Only hours after denying foreign press reports that ruler Deng Xiaoping was deathly ill, Chinese officials announced Feb. 19 that the 92-year-old communist leader was indeed dead. Even so, state TV's announcement of his passing featured a caption reading, &quotComrade Deng Xiaoping is Immortal." Nicknamed &quotLazarus" for his ability to come back from the political dead (Mr. Deng was twice &quotpurged" by the communist party hierarchy before finally consolidating his power in 1978), the diminutive leader pushed his lumbering communist nation toward a more free-market economic system, which he termed &quotmarket socialism." Hoping to help China modernize, he opened diplomatic relations with the United States and allowed great numbers of Chinese students to study abroad. But Mr. Deng steadfastly resisted any connection between economic liberalization and democratic reform. Resisting calls to respect human rights, Mr. Deng approved forced abortion and sterilization as part of China's coercive &quotone-child" policy of population control. In 1989, he mandated the military crackdown on tens of thousands of peaceful pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. The bloody confrontation--seen around the world on TV--left hundreds of protesters dead, a fact Chinese officials brazenly denied. Under Mr. Deng, China's long-standing repression of the church continued, but with just enough modification that some house church leaders say the Marxist ruler unwittingly aided the gospel. "[He] essentially created a society that gave us just enough freedom to evangelize, but retained the apparatus to punish us when we did. Those are the ideal conditions for church growth," said an unidentified church leader in Shanghai, quoted by the Christian news organization, Compass. &quotToo much repression and the gospel never gets spread; too much freedom and the gospel never gets tested." While world leaders, including President Clinton, hailed Deng Xiaoping for remaking China's economy, Chinese dissident Harry Wu, who spent 19 years in Chinese labor camps, had a more brutal assessment. In an interview with Reuters, Mr. Wu, who now lives in the United States, described Mr. Deng as a &quotcriminal" who died with &quottwo bloody hands." Mr. Deng's chosen successor also knows a thing or two about brute force and political repression. Jiang Zemin, a Russian-trained engineer, ordered the executions of hundreds of protesters after the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown, and he led the communist party's fierce 1995 drive to force house churches to come under government control.

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