OF COUNSEL: Kenneth Starr, the former U.S. Solicitor General who led the investigation into the Clinton/Monica Lewinsky affair, joined forces with Prop 8 supporters to defend California's gay marriage ban. Starr, 62, will serve as lead counsel and argue the case before the California Supreme Court, which may hear oral arguments as soon as March.
DIED: Claiborne Pell, architect of the college grant program bearing his name, died Jan. 1 after a long battle with Parkinson's disease. The former Democratic senator represented Rhode Island for 36 years and devoted himself to causes that helped the poor. Pell, 90, considered his greatest achievement the 1972 passage of his Basic Educational Opportunity Grant program, which dispersed financial aid directly to low- and middle-income college students.
RECOVERING: Apple CEO Steve Jobs, 53, announced Jan. 14 that he will take a leave of absence until the end of June due to medical concerns that are "more complex" than he originally thought. Jobs, who survived a bout of pancreatic cancer in 2004, skipped his keynote address at Macworld earlier this month, fueling rumors that his health was "declining rapidly"-and sparking a dip in Apple's share prices.
FIELD REPORTING: Joe Wurzelbacher, the Ohio plumber who gained fame during the presidential campaign as "Joe the Plumber," flew to Israel to serve as a war correspondent for conservative website Pajamas TV. Wurzelbacher, 34, planned to spend 10 days reporting from Gaza and interviewing Israel's "Average Joes."
SENTENCED: A federal judge sentenced Charles "Chuckie" McArthur Emmanuel, the American son of former Liberian President Charles Taylor, to 97 years in prison for torturing and murdering his father's political enemies. Emmanuel, 31, was the first to receive a conviction under a 1994 law permitting the U.S. government to prosecute individuals who commit torture in foreign countries.
CONTESTED: Citing a 225-vote lead, the Minnesota canvassing board declared former Saturday Night Live star Al Franken the winner of the contested Senate race against Republican incumbent Norm Coleman on Jan. 5. Despite calls for his concession, Coleman announced he will challenge the recount ruling in court: "Not every valid vote has been counted, and some have been counted twice. Let's take the time right now in this contested race to get it right."