Dispatches > Human Race

Human Race

Issue: "On the rails," Oct. 9, 2010

Released

Sarah Shourd flew out of Iran Sept. 14 after Iranian authorities, spurred by reports the 32-year-old American's health was deteriorating, released her on $500,000 bail. Officials have indicated that Shourd's fiancé Shane Bauer, 28, and friend Josh Fattal, 28, will remain incarcerated until after the trio stands trial on charges of spying and illegally entering Iran. A trial date has not yet been set.

Reunited

Blind human-rights activist Chen Guangcheng returned home Sept. 9 after Chinese authorities released him from prison. Chen, who is in poor health, spent more than four years in prison after documenting and publicly exposing the mass forced abortions and sterilizations in Shandong province. Chen and his family remain under heavy surveillance and the threat of imprisonment if they fail to cooperate with authorities.

Awarded

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The White House announced it will award Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta, 25, the Medal of Honor, marking the first time since the Vietnam War that the nation's highest award for valor will be bestowed on a living soldier. While serving in Afghanistan in 2007, Giunta rushed into an ambush to save an injured soldier from falling into enemy hands.

Issued

U.S. immigration officials issued Rifqa Bary, 18, a green card last month, paving the way for the former runaway to seek citizenship in five years. The news also means Bary, who is battling uterine cancer, can now apply for healthcare coverage, college scholarships, and a driver's license.

Uncovered

Civil-rights photographer Ernest Withers-who captured on film the integration of a Little Rock school and the moments following Martin Luther King's assassination-also doubled as an FBI informant, according to a report by the Memphis Commercial Appeal. During the late '60s, Withers allegedly used his connections with civil-rights leaders like King to feed the FBI tips and photographs that highlighted the civil-rights movement in Memphis. Withers died in 2007.

Penned

President Obama's latest book, Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters, will hit store shelves two weeks after the mid-term elections. Obama, who reportedly finished writing the children's book before he became president, plans to donate his proceeds to a scholarship fund for the children of fallen or disabled soldiers. The book is part of a $1.9 million, three-volume deal he made with Random House in 2004.

Fired

A New Jersey Transit employee lost his job after newspapers published photos of him protesting the proposed Ground Zero mosque by burning pages from a Quran on Sept. 11. Agency officials say Derek Fenton, 39, was terminated because his actions "violated New Jersey Transit's code of ethics" and "violated his trust as a state employee."

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