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Dispatches Human Race

Human Race

(Rachel Beatty)


A British family court banned a mother from flying her baby daughter back to India for genital mutilation (FGM) after a warning from social workers. The workers discovered the family had taken their first three daughters to India, their country of origin, for the operation. FGM orders in Britain allow a judge to bar parents from taking children abroad, seize passports, and bring prosecution if necessary. The social workers asked Judge Robert Jordan for a private hearing about the child, and Jordan determined that cultural pressure in favor of FGM had overridden the mother’s maternal instincts, prompting him to ban her from travel.



Nigerians have been dying from a dangerous fever since the beginning of the year, and the epidemic is still spreading. Lassa fever is not new, but it is difficult to treat, and this new epidemic is moving faster than ever before. Most people who catch Lassa will experience only mild symptoms, such as fever and a headache. But the fever can imitate Ebola, affecting organs and destroying blood vessels, causing bleeding from the nose, mouth, and other parts of the body. Lassa normally has a fatality rate of 1 percent, but in the outbreak in Nigeria almost 20 percent of confirmed victims have died, according to the country’s Centre for Disease Control.

(Press Association via AP)


Roger Bannister, the first athlete to break the four-minute mile, died on March 3 at age 88. On May 6, 1954, Bannister was a 25-year-old medical student running against Oxford University on a windy day at Iffley Road. For almost 10 years, milers had been coming close to breaking four minutes, and many believed Bannister would do it. He broke into the lead with 300 yards remaining. “Those last few seconds seemed never ending,” he wrote later. Bannister passed the tape at 3:59.4, reaching what The New York Times called “one of man’s hitherto unattainable goals.” Bannister later ran a mile in 3:58.8, his personal best, but he retired from running soon after his famous mile to pursue his medical career. In 1975, he was knighted by the queen.

(Markus Schreiber/AP)


Stephen Hawking, the renowned Cambridge University physicist, died on March 14 at age 76. Hawking suffered from the debilitating effects of Lou Gehrig’s disease for more than five decades, but developed mind-boggling theories about the universe. He gained international fame for his ideas about the nature of black holes. Despite his profound scientific grasp on the immensities of the cosmos, Hawking flatly rejected the reality of a Creator God. In an interview with The Guardian in 2011, Hawking said: “I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”

(Coptic Orthodox Church)


Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met the Coptic pope in Cairo during a landmark visit to Egypt’s largest Coptic cathedral. Prince Mohammed walked with Pope Tawadros II through St. Mark’s Cathedral as part of his three-day trip to the country. State media MENA said the meeting was the first of its kind. Egypt has suffered attacks by Islamic fanatics, whom critics say are influenced by Saudi Arabia, including a bombing near St. Mark’s Cathedral. The prince has promised his reign will usher in a new, more moderate form of Islam in Saudi Arabia.