Skip to main content

Dispatches Human Race

Human Race

Japan’s Emperor Akihito (left) and Empress Michiko (Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images)


Emperor Akihito, 85, became the first Japanese monarch to abdicate the throne in more than 200 years. His office holds little political power but is of great national significance, even after his father Hirohito publicly denied the ruling family’s divinity. Akihito used his influence as emperor to help heal Japan’s reputation after World War II and became beloved for his work with the sick and survivors of catastrophe. Akihito has had two surgeries, one for prostate cancer and one a heart bypass operation in 2012. His son, Prince Naruhito, will become Japan’s 126th emperor. 



Asia Bibi (Handout)


Pakistani officials reported that Asia Bibi left Pakistan for Canada on May 8. Bibi, a Christian woman, had been on death row for allegedly speaking against Muhammad until Pakistan’s Supreme Court overturned her conviction last year. She then spent several months in police custody to protect her from radical Muslims who were threatening to kill her. A fellow farmworker had accused Bibi of blasphemy after an argument in 2009. In overturning the conviction, the Supreme Court upheld the blasphemy law but said her Muslim accusers had committed perjury.






According to a recent study, teen suicides spiked after the debut of a TV show that glorifies a teen suicide. Netflix’s series 13 Reasons Why came out in March of 2017. Researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health studied five years of suicide trends and found a 28.9 percent increase in suicide deaths among Americans ages 10-17 in the month after the debut of the show and 195 more youth suicides than expected in the nine months after the debut. Netflix is preparing to release Season 3 of the show. In a statement, the network said it would look at the research but also pointed to a study showing positive effects on young adults who watched the show.



Rachel Held Evans (Handout)


Rachel Held Evans, an author and blogger popular with theologically liberal Christians, died on May 4 at a hospital in Nashville, Tenn., after a brief illness. She was 37. Evans was raised in a conservative Christian home and attended Bryan College in Dayton, Tenn., where she met and married her husband, but she began to question her faith openly and write about it extensively. In 2012, she wrote the New York Times bestseller A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband “Master,” where she made light of traditional male and female roles prescribed in the Bible. 


Joergen Ree Wiig/Norwegian Direcorate of Fisheries Sea Surveillance Unit/AP

The Beluga whale (Joergen Ree Wiig/Norwegian Direcorate of Fisheries Sea Surveillance Unit/AP)


Norwegian fishermen have found a tame Beluga whale that could be a Russian spy.  The whale approached their fishing boats, begging for food, while the fishermen were in the Arctic Ocean near a Russian naval base. The men noticed that the whale was carrying a harness that included a GoPro attachment. With some difficulty, the men managed to remove the harness and found a number sourcing the harness back to St. Petersburg. Marine biologist Audun Rikardsen told the BBC it was unlikely the harness was used by scientists and that the whale appears trained. A Russian reserve colonel, Viktor Baranets, denied on a Russian broadcast program that the Beluga was a spy, though he did say the Russian navy has military dolphins that fulfill several combat roles.