Dispatches > The Buzz

The Buzz

Issue: "CCM: Salt or sugar?," May 13, 2000

White House may invoke executive privilege in e-mail dispute
Seeing no evil
The Clinton administration last week threw a hurdle in front of congressional investigators seeking documents related to missing e-mails on matters ranging from Whitewater to campaign fundraising. White House officials suggested they may invoke executive privilege to keep the documents hidden. Administration officials claim that a 1998 technical glitch kept e-mails that investigators sought from being archived properly. Independent Counsel Robert Ray, the Justice Department, and Congress are all investigating whether the White House tried to obstruct the investigation by not promptly recovering the e-mails after the problem was discovered. The White House sent the House Government Reform Committee a one-page list of documents it is not immediately turning over to investigators. Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) in a letter to the White House counsel's office dismissed the list as "meaningless mumbo-jumbo" and a "transparent ploy to provoke wasteful and time-consuming squabbles over documents." "We have already turned over a lot of material to Mr. Burton," White House spokesman Jim Kennedy responded. "What he is seeking is not historical information about the origins of this problem but current information generated only as a result of his inquiry." Meanwhile, Mr. Ray's prosecutors plan to interview one of the White House's computer contractors, Betty Lambuth, who claims that White House officials threatened her with jail if she divulged the problem. Is deadly disease a security threat?
AIDS alarm
According to the Clinton administration, AIDS is not only a horrific disease but a threat to national security. The White House created an interagency working group to "develop a series of expanded initiatives to drive the international efforts" to combat the disease, according to a National Security Council report. "We have to respond to this because we've never seen a crisis like HIV and AIDS globally," said Sandy Thurman, director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy. The administration wants an extra $100 million next year for prevention and education programs. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott remains unconvinced, though. He suggested the administration's declaration "is just the president trying to make an appeal to, you know, certain groups." Marchers hit D.C.
Power trip
Lesbian celebrities Ellen DeGeneres, Melissa Etheridge, and Martina Navratilova helped pack the National Mall in Washington for a march in favor of President Clinton's campaign for the Hate Crime Prevention Act. Waving signs saying "Equal rights for gays and lesbians," "Straight Scouts for gay Scouts," and the strangely placed "Protect our families," hundreds of thousands joined what they called "The Millennium March." Law enforcement reported no sign of counterdemonstrators. Mr. Clinton spoke via videotape to marchers. His image shown on a giant screen, the president said he had presided over "the most inclusive administration in history," with more than 150 homosexuals appointed to important government posts.

The No-Comment Zone

  • The biggest day on the left-wing calendar-May 1, or May Day-caused riots and damage around the world. In Germany, about 200 police officers were injured and hundreds of demonstrators taken into custody. In London, rioters trashed a McDonald's, a war memorial, and a statue of Winston Churchill. In Seoul, South Korean police questioned 17 students on suspicion of making or using firebombs thrown during protests. Rioters blamed capitalism, fascism, globalization, pollution, and poverty for inspiring the melees.
  • Baseball batters hit 931 home runs in April, a record. Hitters slugged an average of 2.55 homers per game, compared to1.38 homers in April 1968, the record low. "It's not a good time for pitchers, there's no doubt," the Dodgers' Kevin Brown said. "There are a lot of ways to get hurt out there, the way the ball's flying."
  • Since 1927 Wheaton College's athletic teams have been known as Crusaders. No more. President Duane Litfin last month announced that the name has been retired "as a matter of principle [and] faithfulness to Christ." Mr. Litfin said he studied anew the Crusades of the 11th through 13th centuries and concluded they were not something Wheaton should glorify. Also, he said, it would be better to change rather than wait for public pressure that he thought would arise and force school officials to act. A faculty-student committee is collecting suggestions for a new mascot name, to be announced in September. Early entries include Eagles, Whirlwind, and Cherubs.
  • ATMs might not be just money machines for long. Wells Fargo Bank is putting movie previews, advertisements, and news headlines at some of its ATMs. The screens will show icons and graphics that will look like they're from home PCs. According to the company, movie trailers will run and news stickers will scroll by in between customers. When someone enters a PIN, ads will show up on the screen. "We are beginning to see a blurring of delivery channels," said executive vice president Robert Chlebowski. "The online banking experience and the ATM experience are starting to converge."

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