Dispatches > Human Race

Human Race

Issue: "Biblical callings," Dec. 4, 2010


China barred two of its prominent lawyers from attending an international law conference in London because officials said their departure posed a threat to national security. Mo Shaoping and He Weifang said they believe the detainment is a ploy to make sure the men do not attend December's Nobel Peace Prize ceremony where jailed human-rights activist Liu Xiaobo will become the first Chinese recipient of a Nobel prize. In recent weeks, the Chinese government has increased surveillance and detained other activists to prevent them from traveling to the Oslo ceremony. Liu, 54, is serving 11 years in prison for advocating for human rights and democratic reforms.


A month after a new Nebraska law took effect banning abortions past the 20th week of pregnancy, Nebraska abortionist LeRoy Carhart announced he will expand his late-term abortion centers to Iowa, Indiana, and Maryland. "The laws are more favorable in these other jurisdictions, and we're going to do the maximum the law allows," Carhart told The Washington Post. Carhart also said he plans to challenge the Nebraska law.


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Six hundred University of Central Florida seniors had to retake a midterm exam after their professor, Richard Quinn, discovered a third of them had allegedly cheated by viewing copies of the test in advance. In a videotaped lecture, Quinn berated the class and offered the unnamed cheaters two options: Stay mum and risk expulsion or come clean and take an ethics course. "If they're going to learn one thing coming out of university," Quinn said, "they're going to learn dignity and honor and the value of ethics and honesty."


Mission Aviation Fellowship pilot Benjamin Uskert died Nov. 7 in a swimming accident at an Indonesian beach. Uskert, 30, was overcome by the current while attempting to rescue two teenagers who had been swept away from the shore. One of the teenagers also drowned.


Liberal MSNBC anchor Keith Olbermann returned to work Nov. 9 after the cable news network gave him a two-show suspension for violating a company policy that bans journalists from making campaign contributions without receiving prior approval. Olbermann, who hosts Countdown and anchored MSNBC's election night coverage, gave a total of $7,200 to three Democratic politicians.


Gentry Collins, political director of the Republican National Committee, resigned his post on Nov. 16, offering a scathing assessment of Michael Steele's two years as GOP chairman. In a five-page letter informing Steele and the RNC's executive committee of his resignation, Collins argued that the committee missed a historic opportunity to make the 2010 election an even bigger victory for Republicans and was not in a financial position to impact the 2012 campaign. "The RNC," wrote Collins, "allowed its major donor base to wither."


Authorities are hunting for a man they say created a phony veterans charity and bilked donors out of as much as $100 million before disappearing with the funds. Under the stolen identity of "Bobby Thompson," the suspect reportedly used some of the money to make sizeable campaign contributions that gained him access to top Republican politicians. Officials have apprehended Thompson's accomplice, Blanca Contreras, who has pleaded not guilty to charges related to her involvement with the fraudulent U.S. Navy Veterans Association.


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