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The theater world lost one of its brightest lights on Christmas Eve with the death of playwright Harold Pinter. The 78-year-old British Nobel Prize winner, whose best-known plays included "The Homecoming" and "The Birthday Party," succumbed to throat cancer on Wednesday.

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Internationally acclaimed essayist, novelist and playwright Gore Vidal argues that America under Bush is evincing characteristics of the post-fall-of-Rome Dark Ages: the triumph of faith over reason, the atrophy of education and critical thinking, and integration of the state, torture and religion.

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