Dispatches > Human Race

Human Race

Issue: "At the wire," Nov. 6, 2010


Washington, D.C.'s public schools chancellor Michelle Rhee, 40, announced Oct. 13 she would resign at the end of October following three years of aggressive efforts to overhaul the languishing school system. During her tenure, Rhee sparked intense criticism for her reform measures, which included closing failing schools, firing educators deemed ineffective, and pushing for merit-based pay. Her resignation follows Mayor Adrian Fenty's Democratic primary loss to city council chairman Vincent Gray, who received heavy financial support from the teachers union and has repeatedly clashed with Rhee on school issues.


California Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, 66, who ruled in August that California's voter-approved marriage amendment (Proposition 8) was unconstitutional, plans to retire in February. Walker, who joined the federal bench in 1990 following his appointment by President George H.W. Bush, will formally step down as chief judge of the Northern California district court on Dec. 31. Proposition 8 supporters are appealing Walker's ruling with oral arguments set to begin in December.


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The International Committee Against Stoning reported Oct. 11 that Iranian authorities have apparently arrested the son and lawyer of an Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning for alleged adultery. Iranian officials also seized two German journalists who were interviewing Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani's son, Sajjad Ghaderzadeh, and her lawyer Houtan Kian.


Lana Lawless, a 57-year-old transgender man who in 2005 had gender reassignment surgery to become a woman, filed suit against the Ladies Pro­fessional Golf Association after the group blocked Lawless' attempt to join the golf tour because it requires competitors to be "female at birth."


The National Bible Association selected Bonnie McElveen-Hunter, chairwoman of the American Red Cross and former U.S. Ambassador to Finland, to receive its annual John M. Templeton Biblical Values Award.


A South African court acquitted a woman who stood accused of sexually abusing students at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls located near Johannesburg. Nine girls testified during the trial of former dorm matron Tiny Virginia Makopo, 30. Winfrey issued a statement saying she was "profoundly disappointed" with the trial's outcome.


Barbara Billingsley, the actress who played June Cleaver on the hit 1950s TV show Leave It to Beaver, died on Oct. 16 after a long battle with a rheumatoid disease. She was 94.


Grammy-winning singer Albertina Walker died Oct. 8 at age 81. Considered the "Queen of Gospel," in the 1950s she formed the gospel singing group the Caravans.


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