TV producer Dick Clark, host of the hit song and dance show American Bandstand that influenced generations of teenagers and decisively shaped pop culture, died April 18 at age 82. TV viewers counted on Clark for more than three decades to help them ring in the New Year with his Dec. 31 Rockin' Eve program aired from New York's Times Square.
The UN Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague ruled April 26 that former Liberian president Charles Taylor, 64, committed war crimes and crimes against humanity while aiding and abetting rebels during Sierra Leone's civil war. But the court stopped short of tying him directly to ordering or planning the list of atrocities, which included murder, conscripting child soldiers, and using young girls as sexual slaves. It marks the first time since World War II that an international court has levied a war crimes conviction on a former head of state. Taylor's sentencing hearing is set for May 30.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law last month legislation that allows public and charter high schools the option to offer an elective class about the Bible's influence on history, government, and culture. The law requires the board of education to design the curriculum for schools that wish to offer it. Arizona is the sixth state to pass legislation permitting high schools to offer a Bible related class.
The Obama administration has hired former Planned Parenthood media director Tait Sye to work in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as the deputy assistant secretary for public affairs. The appointment comes shortly after Sye helped Planned Parenthood defend HHS's rule requiring most employers' insurance policies to cover contraception. "Personnel is policy," Americans United for Life president Charmaine Yoest told Politico. "This is one more example of how intertwined the Obama administration is with the abortion industry and Planned Parenthood."
The defense department is issuing an "other-than-honorable" discharge to a nine-year Marine and Iraq War veteran who posted comments critical of President Obama on Facebook and an internal military network. Gary Stein, 26, created the Armed Forces Tea Party Facebook page where he made statements he now acknowledges "were tasteless," but his lawyers argued that the Marine Corps' decision violates his 1st Amendment rights. The ruling demotes Stein, whose enlistment was due to end in July, and leaves him ineligible for most military benefits.
Church-planting movement leader and pastor Britt Merrick announced last month he is taking a leave of absence from ministry after learning his 7-year-old daughter, Daisy, is fighting a third bout of cancer. In 2003 Merrick left his position as heir of Channel Islands Surfboards-a world-renowned surfboard company-to start Reality, a multi-campus church based in California. He is the author of Big God: What Happens When We Trust Him (Notable Books, July 3, 2010).