Human Race

Human Race

Issue: "On the road again," May 9, 2009

AGED: Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens celebrated his 89th birthday April 20. Only one other justice, Oliver Wendell Holmes, who retired in 1932 at age 90, also marked the milestone while serving on the court. Despite his age, some court watchers predict Stevens will stick around until 2011 in order to break a few court records, including longest serving and oldest sitting justice.

IMPRISONED: An Iranian court sentenced American-Iranian journalist Roxana Saberi, 31, to eight years in prison after officials charged her with spying for the United States. The former North Dakota beauty queen was reportedly doing research for a book, but, according to family members, officials tricked Saberi into making incriminating statements during her one-hour, closed-door trial April 13. Her lawyer is appealing while Saberi remains in Iran's notorious Evin prison.

RETIRED: NFL football legend John Madden announced April 16 his retirement after 30 years in the sports broadcasting booth. Madden, 73, also known for his annual "Madden NFL Football" video game, said he will spend more time with his family, including wife Virginia, with whom he celebrates 50 years of marriage this year.

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UPHELD: A Saudi Arabian judge ruled April 11 that the arranged marriage of an 8-year-old girl to a 47-year-old man is legally binding. The girl's mother sought to have the marriage annulled after her ex-husband arranged their daughter's marriage to a friend in order to pay off a monetary debt. The judge said the girl could file for divorce once she reached puberty.

BARTERED: The father of Slumdog Millionaire star Rubina Ali reportedly offered his 9-year-old daughter for adoption, demanding $300,000. Rafiq Qureshi, 36, told a British tabloid, "We've got nothing out of this film," but later denied he put a price tag on Rubina, who played young Latika in the Oscar-winning film. Indian police took the incident seriously, however, arresting Qureshi for questioning April 20.

FILED: Actor Mel Gibson's wife, Robyn, filed for divorce April 13 after 28 years of marriage. For Gibson, a traditionalist Catholic, the impending divorce and allegations of philandering could tarnish his efforts to finish building Malibu's Church of the Holy Family, which adheres to a pre-Vatican II form of Catholicism.

TRANSITIONS: The Washington-based Institute on Religion and Democracy appointed Mark Tooley to serve as the think tank's next president following the retirement of Jim Tonkowich. Good News, a publication of the United Methodist Church, also announced the retirement of its president, Rev. James Heidinger, who will be succeeded by Rev. Robert Renfro.

HOSPITALIZED: Physicist Stephen Hawking, 67, was admitted to the hospital April 20 and described as "very ill" following a prolonged chest infection. Despite almost complete paralysis from Lou Gehrig's disease, the Cambridge professor has remained active in scientific research and is renowned for his study of black holes.


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