Venezuelans face an uncertain future after President Hugo Chavez, 56, revealed he underwent surgery in Cuba last month to remove a malignant tumor. He has not indicated what kind of cancer he has nor the severity of his illness, raising questions about whether he will be able to run for reelection next year. Despite economic woes and a proliferation of crime, recent polls indicate about half of Venezuelans still approve of Chavez's socialist rule.
Robert H. Schuller, 84, is no longer a voting member of the Crystal Cathedral Ministries board. Its members changed his position to honorary chairman of the board emeritus so he would have more time for speaking and writing, a church statement said. But Schuller's son Robert A. Schuller told media sources that his father was voted off the board because of differences with other board members. The bankrupt California church is currently on the market.
A Florida jury's decision July 5 to acquit Casey Anthony in the murder of her 2-year-old daughter Caylee and convict her only on four counts of lying to investigators sparked widespread public outrage. Juror Jennifer Ford said she and the other jurors didn't believe there was enough evidence beyond a reasonable doubt to convict Anthony, who would have faced the death penalty. Anthony received a four-year sentence but was slated to go free on July 17 since she has already served nearly three years in jail.
A North Carolina jury ruled July 1 that pro-life activist Philip "Flip" Benham, director of Operation Save America, is guilty of stalking a Charlotte abortionist. Authorities charged Benham, 62, after he distributed posters listing the name of the abortionist with the words, "Wanted . . . By Christ, to Stop Killing Babies." Benham received an 18-month probation sentence.
Pro-life advocate Joseph E. Mortimer Jr. died July 1 at the age of 80. Mortimer founded and published the Voices for the Unborn newspaper and used various forms of media to spread his message that "Abortion Stops a Beating Heart."
Betty Ford, wife of former President Gerald Ford, died July 8 at the age of 93. The former first lady, who in 1982 co-founded the California-based Betty Ford Center following a personal struggle with alcohol and pain killer addictions, was a breast cancer survivor who used her platform to advocate for equal rights and the legalization of abortion.