Dispatches > Human Race
Dawson (Associated Press)

Human Race

Issue: "The brain trust," June 30, 2012


Actor and game show host Richard Dawson, 79, died from complications of esophageal cancer on June 2. Dawson gained fame as Cpl. Peter Newkirk on the sitcom Hogan's Heroes during the 1960s and later as the host of Family Feud during the 1970s and 1980s. Dawson, known as "The Kissing Bandit" for greeting female contestants with a kiss on the lips, had reportedly received his cancer diagnosis three weeks before his death.


Voice-over actor Dick Beals, best known as the voice behind Gumby and Speedy Alka-Seltzer, died May 29 at age 85. Beals, whose perpetually youthful voice was due to a glandular problem in childhood, was also the first voice of Davey for the Davey and Goliath series.


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A judge presiding over an evidentiary hearing in the appeals case of Hannah Overton, the Texas woman sentenced to life in prison in the 2006 salt-poisoning death of 4-year-old Andrew Burd, has rejected claims the jury wrongly convicted the mother of five ("Second chance," Sept. 24, 2011). Despite compelling testimony from a salt-poisoning expert, Judge Jose Longoria said in his report that the new testimony would not have changed the trial's outcome and he recommended Overton, 35, not receive a new trial. If the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals agrees, Overton's lawyer Cynthia Orr has pledged to petition a federal court or seek a pardon from Gov. Rick Perry.


Sho Yano became the University of Chicago's youngest student to earn an M.D. when he graduated June 9 at the age of 21. The prodigy began his college career at the age of 9 before enrolling in medical school when he was 12. Yano, who has a Ph.D. in molecular genetics and cell biology, will now begin a five-year residency in pediatric neurology.


Stephanie Nielson, who survived a plane crash that left over 80 percent of her body burned, is celebrating the arrival of her fifth child with husband Christian. Nielson, a popular Mormon blogger, recently released a memoir-Heaven Is Here-detailing her recovery following the 2008 accident that left her severely disfigured. Nielson, 30, says baby Charlotte is a miracle child they weren't sure they would be able to have in the wake of her crash injuries.


California teen Snigdha Nandipati, 14, captured first place this year at the Scripps National Spelling Bee by correctly spelling guetapens, meaning ambush or trap. It marks the fifth consecutive year that an Indian-American has claimed the top spot, which this year came with $40,000 in cash and prizes.


An Egyptian court sentenced ousted President Hosni Mubarak, 84, to life in prison on June 2 for his complicity in the executions of anti-government protesters during the 2011 uprising. Although Egyptians were pleased with the ruling, they expressed disappointment that the court stopped short of convicting Mubarak or his sons on corruption charges. Mubarak's health deteriorated sharply following his incarceration in prison, where he is reportedly in the intensive care unit on a ventilator.


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