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Human Race

Human Race

Issue: "Hurtling toward havoc," Aug. 1, 2009

DIED: Former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, who under President John F. Kennedy helped launch the United States into the Vietnam War, died July 6. During his tenure from 1961 to 1968, McNamara, 93, directed half a million soldiers into a battle that quickly lost popular support. In later years, McNamara publicly struggled with the morality of war and apologized for his role in Vietnam-an admission that sparked another firestorm of criticism.

DIED: Former NFL quarterback Steve McNair, 36, died July 4 after his 20-year-old mistress, Sahel Kazemi, shot him and then committed suicide. McNair, who was married with four children, retired in 2008 after 13 seasons with the Houston Oilers, Tennessee Titans, and Baltimore Ravens.

CLEARED: A Turkish court dropped charges June 25 against novelist Nedim Gürsel, accused of inciting religious hatred in The Daughters of Islam, his book on the birth of Islam. In Iran, meanwhile, nine local employees of the British embassy face a possible show trial after Iranian authorities said they instigated protests following disputed elections in June, charges the British government says are "wholly without foundation."

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CORNERED: When Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., was sworn in July 7, Rev. Rob Schenck, president of both the National Clergy Council and Faith and Action, suggested that Franken begin his tenure by apologizing for mocking Christians during his days as a comedian. Schenck said, "We don't know whether or not to take you seriously," to which Franken responded, "Well, I'm married to a Christian."

CHARGED: German prosecutors on July 13 lodged formal charges in the deaths of 27,900 Holocaust victims against John Demjanjuk, an 89-year-old retired auto worker who was deported from the United States in May on allegations he was a Nazi guard at the Sobibor camp in Poland in 1943. Demjanjuk maintains his innocence despite new evidence linking him to the death camp. A trial date has not yet been set.

DEDICATED: Christian music artist Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife, Mary Beth, celebrated the July 2 opening of a home for special needs orphans in Luoyang, China. The six-story Maria's Big House of Hope, named in honor of the Chapmans' youngest daughter who died in 2008 after a car driven by her brother struck her, will accommodate 128 orphans 5 years old and younger with a staff of 190 to provide care and medical attention.

ILL: According to a South Korean TV news report, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il, 67, has pancreatic cancer and may be close to death. The dictator looked noticeably gaunt at recent, rare public appearances, and he reportedly had a stroke last year. He is likely to be succeeded by his 26-year-old son or his brother-in-law who is a member of the Defense Commission.

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