APPOINTED: President Obama picked former Clinton administration official Eric Goosby to head the State Department's Global AIDS Office. If confirmed, Goosby will succeed Mark Dybul, who spearheaded what many consider President Bush's most successful program, the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. Unlike Dybul, however, Goosby lacks a strong record of supporting abstinence education. Some experts fear Goosby, under pressure from liberal-leaning groups, may revert to former methods that were ineffective in preventing HIV infection in Africa's hyper-epidemic.
ELECTED: In what turned out to be a razor-thin victory, political newcomer and Democrat Scott Murphy, 39, beat out Republican James Tedisco, 58, to fill Kirsten Gillibrand's vacant New York congressional seat after she replaced Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the Senate. Murphy's seat, which was historically held by Republicans, will be a top GOP target in 2010.
STEPPING DOWN: Pat Robertson, 79, announced April 28 that he will retire next summer as president of Regent University, the school he founded in 1978. Robertson, who also founded and still chairs the Christian Broadcasting Network, will continue to serve as the school's chancellor and a member of the board of trustees.
DEFECTED: Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter, 79, announced April 28 that he was switching his political allegiance from Republican to Democrat. Specter, who in 2001 proposed a ban on mid-session party switching, indicated that the move will boost his chances of winning reelection next year. He also said he hopes his defection will serve as a "wake-up call" to the struggling GOP. Specter's move leaves Democrats only one vote shy of a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.
DIED: Actor and offbeat comedian Dom DeLuise died May 4 at age 75. A regular on Dean Martin's variety show in the 1960s, the portly DeLuise also starred in numerous hit comedy films. "Dom always made you feel better when he was around," frequent co-star Burt Reynolds told the Associated Press, "and there will never be another like him."
DIED: Bea Arthur, 86, who played sharp-witted women in the ground-breaking television sitcoms Maude and The Golden Girls, died April 25 of cancer. Arthur's portrayal of a liberated woman in Maude was often hailed as a feminist symbol, particularly during the show's first season when her 47-year-old character opted to have an abortion two months before the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling.
DIED: Grammy-nominated gospel singer Timothy Wright, 61, who was the pastor of Brooklyn's Grace Tabernacle Christian Center Church of God in Christ, died April 23 from injuries sustained last July in a car accident that killed his wife and grandson.