Human Race

Human Race

Issue: "2008 Daniel of the Year," Dec. 13, 2008

DIED: American supercentenarian Edna Parker, who became the world's oldest person in August 2007, died Nov. 26 at the age of 115. Maria de Jesus of Portugal, 115, now holds the title of world's oldest person.

DIED: Odetta Holmes Felious Gordon, known to American folk music fans around the world as just Odetta, died Dec. 2 of heart disease at age 77. Odetta resurrected spiritual songs by American slaves for the '60s generation and civil-rights activists, influencing singers such as Bob Dylan and Joan Baez.

HELPING: When Christian music artist Michael Kelly Blanchard, 60, received an offer in 2006 with the U.S. Army's Strong Bonds Marriage Enrichment Retreat, he says he jumped at the opportunity. During the retreat weekends intended to strengthen Army marriages, Blanchard tells stories and uses his own music to address the hardship couples face after long deployments. Blanchard told WORLD Strong Bonds retreats use music to connect couples to "the merciful heart of God."

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CHARGED: South Korean prosecutors seek an 18-month prison sentence for popular South Korean actress Ok So-ri, 39, who admitted to breaking the law by having an affair with a pop singer. Ok sought to overturn the 50-year-old law criminalizing adultery, but in October the Constitutional Court ruled that adultery should remain a criminal offense because it damages the social order.

CONVICTED: A jury found Jason Strickland, 34, guilty Nov. 26 of participating in a brutal beating in 2005 that left his stepdaughter, Haleigh Poutre, with severe brain damage. Poutre, now 14, was at the center of a right-to-die case after the beating when the Massachusetts Department of Social Services sought to remove her from life support. Shortly after officials received court permission to do so, Poutre began improving and today she can speak simple sentences, write, and feed herself.

RELEASED: An Iraqi court agreed to the early release of a 16-year-old Christian girl, who received a five-year prison sentence for killing her Muslim uncle in self-defense. Asya Ahmad Muhammad fatally stabbed her uncle in 2006 after he began to beat her mother and younger brother for converting to Christianity and working in public. Relatives of the deceased uncle continue to threaten the family.


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