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Dispatches Human Race

Human Race

Josh Harris (I Survived I Kissed Dating Goodbye)


Josh Harris, former celebrity pastor and author of the 1997 bestseller I Kissed Dating Goodbye, announced on Instagram that he and his wife were separating and, then, a few days later announced that he was not a Christian. “By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian,” he wrote. He also apologized to the “LGBTQ+ community” for his past stance against same-sex marriage and for having not affirmed the LGBTQ+ lifestyles. With I Kissed Dating Goodbye, Harris helped launch the “purity culture” within American evangelicalism that promoted courtship and promised specific blessings to those who followed that model and refrained from sexual sin.


John Bazemore/Getty

William Barr (John Bazemore/Getty)


After 16 years, the federal government has resumed executing death-row inmates. Attorney General William Barr issued a statement saying he has authorized five executions for December 2019 and January 2020. The inmates involved were convicted in federal courts of murder or rape of children and the elderly. The last federally ordered execution was in 2003 with the death of Louis Jones Jr., the murderer of 19-year-old Tracie McBride. The gap since has been an informal moratorium that did not affect any state-directed executions.



Smithsonian Channel

A diver with the USS Eagle points to a marking for the United States Navy. (Smithsonian Channel)


A private dive team found a warship lost for 75 years, since its sinking during World War II. The Navy initially ruled that a boiler room explosion caused the sinking of the USS Eagle PE-56, even though surviving sailors reported spotting a German submarine. The Navy reversed its account after declassified German documents revealed that the ship had indeed been torpedoed. The Eagle was not found until after a dive team, led by Ryan King, according to BBC, spent four years searching. The team found the ship 5 miles off the coast of Maine, 300 feet down. The team spent a summer exploring the ship, along with a Navy archaeological expert, and confirmed it was the Eagle. The Smithsonian Channel will be airing Hunt for Eagle 56, celebrating their discovery.


Forrest Anderson/The Life Images Collection/Getty Premium

Li Peng (Forrest Anderson/The Life Images Collection/Getty Premium)


Li Peng, Chinese premier nicknamed the “Butcher of Beijing,” died on July 22 at age 90. Li was trained as a hydroelectric engineer in Soviet Russia and returned to China to manage the municipal public energy supply for the city of Beijing. In 1981, after Mao Zedong’s death, Li became the national minister of power industries and then a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, the center of power in China. Six years later he became acting prime minister of China, and he was in that office when thousands of students swarmed Tiananmen Square in 1989, protesting in favor of free speech and democracy. Li claimed he was not the one who ordered troops to fire on the protesters, but he was the one to take the blame. When the office of general party secretary came open, the highest office in China, Li didn’t get the job.



L. Bruce Laingen (AP)


L. Bruce Laingen, senior hostage during the 1979 Iran crisis, died on July 15 at age 96. Laingen had been part of the Foreign Service since his first posting to Germany in 1950. He was called to Iran in 1979 as an experienced diplomat capable of negotiating with the post-revolutionary government after the Iranians overthrew the American-supported shah. Laingen, assigned as the ambassador, worked for several months before the hostage crisis. He was captured and held separate from the other 60-plus hostages. Laingen continued to act as a point of contact with the outside world throughout his imprisonment. After the release of the hostages, Laingen became the vice president of the National Defense University. He retired in 1987 to write several books on political issues.