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Dispatches Human Race

Farewell to a music legend

Kenny Rogers (PictureLux/The Hollywood Archive/Alamy)

Died

Storytelling vocalist Kenny Rogers, who left footprints on country, folk, jazz, and pop music during his decades-spanning career, died on March 20 of natural causes. He was 81. Several of his songs have found enduring places in the American songbook, including “The Gambler,” “Lucille,” “Lady,” and “Islands in the Stream”—his timeless duet with Dolly Parton. Rogers sold more than 47 million records in the United States alone, according to the Recording Industry Association of America. In 2011, he released The Love of God, an album of Christian hymns, praise songs, and original music that reflected a personal faith. “But the love I found is compelling me / to serve Him from a heart that’s been redeemed,” he sang on the title track.

Died

Former astronaut Alfred Worden died at age 88. Worden joined NASA in 1966 and became part of the Apollo 15 program. He spent three days in orbit around the moon in 1971, taking photos of the surface that would lead to mapping of the terrain. During that time, he also took the first deep space walk while tethered to his capsule. Though their mission was a success, NASA reassigned Worden and fellow Apollo 15 astronauts David Scott and James Irwin to desk jobs after the agency discovered the men had taken hundreds of stamped and signed envelopes on board the capsule and intended to sell them. Worden later served as an executive with Goodrich Aerospace.

Threatened

Conservationists in Australia are struggling to save the endangered wallaby population after a severe drought and months of wildfires devastated their habitat. According to The New York Times, some ecologists have estimated that more than a billion wild animals died in the fires. This is especially concerning for already threatened species like the brush-tailed rock wallabies of New South Wales. Generally, ecologists consider it unwise to feed animal populations, but National Parks officers have begun regular food and water drops to help support the animals while their foraging grounds return to normal.

Passed

New Zealand’s parliament on March 18 passed a bill decriminalizing abortion. Previously, a woman was only able to receive an abortion if two doctors declared there was a “serious danger” to her health. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern proposed the new bill last year. Under the new law, women are allowed to abort their children, without a doctor’s assessment, before 20 weeks. They can refer themselves to an abortion clinic as long as they are made aware of counseling services. The government had planned to put the issue to a public referendum, but then abandoned that idea. The parties declared the legislative vote a “conscience issue,” meaning lawmakers were free not to vote along party lines. The bill passed on its third reading: 68-51.