Dispatches > The Buzz

The Buzz

Issue: "Simpsons: Fair or Foul?," June 11, 2005

Watergate One of Washington's longest-held secrets came to light when 91-year-old W. Mark Felt confirmed he was "Deep Throat," the legendary informant behind Watergate revelations doled out to Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.

The Post and its star reporters did not hesitate to splash the news and Watergate retrospectives after keeping Mr. Felt's identity secret for 33 years. In fact, family members indicated the uncovering came as part of a deal to help the Post team cash in ahead of a July Vanity Fair article revealing Mr. Felt's identity.

Not everyone was celebrating Mr. Felt's role in history. "He could not have done the right thing. He broke his oath of office. He broke the law. He snuck off cloak-and-dagger style to convey privileged information," evangelical author and former Nixon counsel Chuck Colson told WORLD.

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Courts It's not often that a victory for Satanists is also one for Christians. But people of many faiths hailed last week's Supreme Court decision in Cutter v. Wilkinson as a win for religious freedom. "The Court's decision effectively levels the playing field for people of faith," said Pacific Justice Institute attorney Brad Dacus, who recently filed suit on behalf of prison inmates who were denied free Bible courses.

Cutter pitted Ohio against prison inmates, including a number of Satanists, who argued that prison officials had not accommodated their religious needs, thereby violating the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). Ohio argued that RLUIPA violates the First Amendment's establishment clause. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the state, but the high court unanimously reversed its ruling.

Business It came after three years and nearly 28,000 lost jobs, but the Supreme Court last week overturned the 2002 conviction of the accounting firm Arthur Andersen for allegedly obstructing justice in the investigation surrounding the collapse of Enron. The 9-0 ruling found that the jury instructions in the case had been too vague to determine guilt. The case turned on whether Andersen employees had committed a criminal act in destroying documents related to Enron, an Andersen client. Prosecutors said an Andersen policy of destroying unneeded documents obstructed federal investigators looking into Enron's financing, but Andersen argued that the policy wasn't meant to hinder investigators and that the firm complied with a government subpoena. Right or wrong, the conviction destroyed the firm. Once an accounting giant with 28,000 employees, Arthur Andersen is now a mere shell of its former self with 200 workers.

China Ding Zilin and more than 100 other family members of those killed and injured in China's Tiananmen Square crackdown released an open letter calling for the Chinese government to come clean on its abuses. The relatives, representing those killed in the June 4, 1989, episode, used the 16th anniversary to demand President Hu Jintao take "appropriate action against those responsible." But action is unlikely as memories of the crackdown fade, symbolized by this year's death of Zhao Ziyand, once the second most powerful man in China before he was purged and placed under house arrest for sympathizing with the student demonstrators.

Film Caretakers at Westminster Abbey, London's 940-year-old landmark cathedral, rejected on May 31 a plan to film the controversial blockbuster novel The Da Vinci Code on its premises. Church officials criticized the book as "theologically unsound." Published in 2003 and written by American author Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code has sold more than 20 million copies around the world, and its film adaptation is expected to draw millions of moviegoers. The novel alleges Jesus married Mary Magdalene and had children.

Lebanon In the midst of the first election since the ouster of Syrian forces, Lebanese journalist and prominent Syrian critic Samir Qasir was killed instantly by a bomb planted in his car in a mostly Christian residential area of Beirut on June 2. The front-page columnist supported Lebanon's anti-Syrian opposition and was the most touted Lebanese figure to be assassinated since former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, killed in a car-bomb blast on Feb. 14. A pedestrian also was killed by the blast and a woman travelling in the car was taken to a hospital with injuries.

Iran Iran's defense minister announced the country had successfully tested a medium-range missile motor that could increase both distance and accuracy of missiles already capable of targeting U.S. bases and other sites in the region. Earlier in the week the country's ruling Islamic clerics announced a mandatory push toward a nuclear enrichment program, one the Bush administration opposes. What the clerics won't endorse are over 1,000 presidential candidates-including nearly 100 women-ahead of controversial June 17 elections. The oversized election field suggests internal opposition fueled by a swiftly growing under-30 population that is, strangely, pro-American.


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