Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, 58, filed a notice of appeal on July 15, six days after a U.S. district judge sentenced him to 10 years in prison. In February, a jury convicted Nagin on 20 criminal charges, including bribery, conspiracy, money laundering, and filing false tax returns. The crimes occurred before and after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, when Nagin, a two-term Democrat, became the national face of the disaster response. Prosecutors said in the aftermath Nagin accepted gifts and cash in exchange for lucrative city contracts.
Nobel Prize-winning author Nadine Gordimer, 90, died on July 13 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Gordimer said she wasn’t political by nature but wrote against apartheid and helped Nelson Mandela craft speeches in a career that spanned more than seven decades. She wrote 15 books—some of which were banned in her home country—including The Conservationist and July’s People. Gordimer, an atheist, also spoke out against censorship and government control and advocated for HIV/AIDS causes. She won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1991.
U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl returned to active duty on July 14, only six weeks after the Taliban released him in a controversial prisoner swap. On May 31 President Barack Obama authorized the release of five Taliban fighters from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay in exchange for Bergdahl. The 28-year-old spent several weeks in a reintegration and therapy program in Texas. It is widely believed Bergdahl abandoned his unit in 2009, and U.S. Army officials said the investigation surrounding his capture is still ongoing.
U.S. Border Patrol released Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and illegal immigrant, on July 15 after arresting him for trying to board a plane in McAllen, Texas. A Department of Homeland Security statement said he will face deportation proceedings. Vargas came to the United States at age 12 and didn’t know he was undocumented until he was 16. He made his immigrant status public in 2011 to push for immigration reform. Vargas, 33, a native of the Philippines, won a Pulitzer for his coverage of the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting.
David M. Rubenstein, co-chief executive officer of The Carlyle Group, has agreed to donate more than $12 million to renovate Robert E. Lee’s 200-year-old mansion that sits atop Arlington National Cemetery overlooking Washington, D.C. The billionaire philanthropist funded half of the repair costs for the Washington Monument, which was damaged in a 2011 earthquake, then reportedly asked Jonathan Jarvis, the National Park Service director, “What else you got?”
James Garner, who starred as the strapped-for-cash ex-con turned detective in TV’s The Rockford Files, died June 19 at 86. Garner got his start playing disarming anti-heroes in the 1950s Western Maverick, and more recently played an elderly husband devoted to his Alzheimer’s-stricken wife in the 2004 movie The Notebook. He also showed real-life heroism—earning two Purple Hearts for combat wounds during the Korean War.