Tayeb Salih, one of Sudan's top novelists, died Feb. 18. Salih, 80, was internationally recognized for his 1966 Season of Migration to the North, which addressed the cultural dissonance between the East and the West and was considered the most important Arab novel of the 20th century.
A 44-year-old Muslim-American television executive stands accused of beheading his wife just days after she filed for divorce and obtained an order of protection barring him from their New York home. Some groups have labeled the incident an honor killing, but Muzzammil Hassan's defense attorney James Harrington insists that neither religion nor culture played a role in the death of Aasiya Hassan.
The fate of Egyptian blogger Diaa Eddin Gad, 23, remains unknown weeks after authorities arrested him Feb. 6 following his participation in a demonstration opposing Egypt's policies toward Gaza Palestinians. The same day Gad disappeared, authorities also seized 26-year-old protestor Philip Rizk, an Egyptian-German citizen who studied at Wheaton College near Chicago, but they released him four days later following an outpouring of international protest. Human-rights groups say such arrests are commonplace in Egypt, where the government is increasingly intolerant of those criticizing its Gaza policies.
Sen. Roland Burris, D-Ill., faces mounting calls to resign after he failed to disclose that he tried to raise money for former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich before Blagojevich appointed him to President Obama's vacant Senate seat. Although Burris, 71, denies any wrongdoing, his inconsistent statements have sparked a Senate Ethics Committee investigation and spurred Illinois prosecutors to consider perjury charges.
A 30-year-old former model posted his suicide note on Facebook before taking his own life in Brooklyn, New York. Hours before a jogger found Paul Zolezzi's body in Prospect Park on Feb. 20, Zolezzi updated his Facebook status: "Paul Zolezzi is born in San Francisco, became a shooting star over everywhere, and ended his life in Brooklyn. . . . And couldn't have asked for more." In January, he wrote, "Paul is wondering, what unspeakable act did I do in a previous life to deserve this one?"
Joseph Aldrich, or "Dr. Joe" as he was known during his years as president of Multnomah University in Portland, Ore., died Feb. 12 after battling Parkinson's disease for 15 years. Aldrich, 68, succeeded his father, Willard Aldrich, 100, as president of the Christian college and seminary, serving from 1978 until 1997. He authored several books, including Lifestyle Evangelism.
George Mason University students elected senior Ryan Allen, a gay drag queen, to be their Homecoming Queen. Allen said he entered the contest at the suburban Washington, D.C., school as a joke, but he says his selection says a lot about the university: "We're one of the most diverse campuses in the country, and . . . we celebrate that."