"Highlights" Continued...

Issue: "News of the year," Dec. 31, 2005

Intelligent debate

Kansas held hearings on state educational standards that would require "teaching the controversy" between Darwinism and Intelligent Design. Now Kansas schoolchildren can hear evidence both for and against evolution. In Pennsylvania, Darwinist parents sued to prevent Intelligent Design from being taught in the classroom, and prevailed Dec. 20.

Innocents abroad

Courts acquitted pop star Michael Jackson of child molestation charges and actor Robert Blake of murdering his wife (though he was found liable for causing her death in a civil suit). Rap moguls Irving and Christopher Lorenzo of the label Murder Inc. were acquitted of laundering drug money.

Wanna bet?

As of 2005, America has 445 casinos bringing in $29 billion. Lotteries-now legal in 40 states-bring in $45 billion. Half of Americans say they have bought a lottery ticket. Online gambling, which is virtually unregulated, rakes in $10 billion. That means that we spend more money on gambling than we do on sports, movies, concerts, and recordings-combined.

Deep mystery

Next to questions about the assassination of JFK, perhaps no mystery has more captivated Americans in the last 50 years than the identity of Deep Throat. Journalist Bob Woodward promised to keep secret the identity of his Watergate informant until Deep Throat died or gave him permission to reveal it. Thirty years later the secret is out: Deep Throat was Mark Felt, a top-level official at the FBI with a grudge against the Nixon White House. Ironically, it was a Vanity Fair story released May 31 that broke Mr. Felt's cover-not Mr. Woodward's Washington Post.

Bind. Torture. Kill.

On Feb. 25, residents of Wichita, Kan., could finally put a face with the serial killer who had haunted the Midwestern city for over 20 years. Dennis Rader, who later pleaded guilty to 10 murders, seemed an unlikely mastermind for two decades of "BTK"-or bind, torture, kill-murders, a dogcatcher, a Cub Scout leader, president of his Lutheran church council, and an apparently devoted family man. On Aug. 18, Mr. Rader was sentenced to serve 10 consecutive life sentences with no parole available for 175 years.

John Bolton

In the spring John Bolton needed his own multinational peacekeeping force to ward off opponents out to destroy his nomination as U.S. ambassador to the UN ("Take your mark," May 7). Persistent support from the Bush administration was not enough to push the conservative nominee through the moderate Senate-and Mr. Bush used a recess appointment in August to put Mr. Bolton in charge of the U.S. mission in New York.

That gives him only about a year to make good on UN reform talk, but the political meat grinder hasn't softened Mr. Bolton's tongue. At a New York dinner hosted by a Jewish group in December, he called for abolishing the UN Human Rights Commission. He also promised to nail those responsible for a map of the Middle East on display at a recent UN function, on which Israel was missing. He said the U.S. mission would hunt down "the highest UN official" who gave approval for the map, and make that person part of "management reform." The ambassador said, "underlying attitudes-anti-Israel, anti-Zionist, anti-Semitic, and, let's be clear, anti-American-still persist at the United Nations."

When white women disappear

Comedian Dave Chappelle once joked about how preoccupied cable news gets when Anglo women go missing. In the train of Chandra Levy and Laci Peterson came Natalee Holloway, an 18-year-old girl from a rich Birmingham suburb who went missing from a graduation trip in Aruba on May 30. A family's tragedy was overwhelmed by how it dominated network news, particularly Fox News, from June to August, until Hurricane Katrina swept it off the tube. Still, Ms. Holloway hasn't been found.

Petite pariah

At just 5-foot-3, it's hard to imagine how much trouble former Army reservist Lynndie England caused the United States. Ms. England, who was at the center of prisoner abuses at Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad, was convicted in September of six counts related to prisoner abuse, sentenced to three years, and given a dishonorable discharge from the Army.

Top 10 laws can stay

The Supreme Court in June split on the issue of public displays of the Decalogue. In Van Orden v. Perry, the justices ruled that a Ten Commandments monument on the Capitol grounds in Austin, Texas, could remain where it has been since 1961. But in a 5-4 decision, the high court struck down Decalogue displays in two county courthouses in Kentucky, ruling that both had as their primary purpose the intent of promoting religion. Activists on both sides had hoped the convergence of the two cases on the high court's 2005 docket might yield some definitive Decalogue case law. Instead, legal analysts say, the split decisions virtually guarantee future litigation.


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