Milestones

4 minute read
Austin Ramzy

CLEARED. DAN BROWN, 41, author of The Da Vinci Code, of copyright infringement; by London’s High Court. Authors Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh had claimed that Brown had copied the “central theme” of their nonfiction book, The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail. Both books propose that Jesus and Mary Magdalene had a child and that their bloodline lives on today.

RESIGNED. DAO DINH BINH, 61, Vietnamese Transport Minister, after failing to prevent corruption amid a scandal in which ministry officials stand accused of embezzling up to $7 million in government funds to bet on soccer matches; in Hanoi. Binh, who has not been accused of any wrongdoing himself, resigned last Tuesday, hours before the arrest of his deputy, Nguyen Viet Tien, charged with violating government rules on fiscal responsibility. The scandal erupted in January when Bui Tien Dung, the head of a ministry road-building unit, was arrested on suspicion of corruption.

MURDERED. ANDREW KISSEL, 46, millionaire real estate developer and brother of “milkshake murder” victim Robert Kissel; by unknown assailants; in Greenwich, Connecticut. In 2005, a Hong Kong court convicted Nancy Kissel, Robert’s wife, of bludgeoning the investment banker to death after serving him a milkshake laced with sedatives. Andrew Kissel, who faced federal and state charges that he defrauded lenders of $11 million and bilked a Manhattan real estate cooperative out of $4 million, was discovered tied up in the basement of his rental house with multiple stab wounds. He was expected to plead guilty this month to grand larceny and serve a prison term.

MURDERED. DENIS DONALDSON, 56, former official with Northern Ireland’s Sinn Fein party and British intelligence informant; found dead at his remote rural cottage; in County Donegal, Ireland. In 2002 Northern Ireland’s power-sharing government collapsed after Donaldson and two other men were arrested and accused of running an I.R.A. spy ring in British government offices in Belfast. The case against them collapsed late last year, but Donaldson subsequently admitted to being a paid British agent for two decades and was expelled from Sinn Fein. The I.R.A. has denied any involvement in the slaying.

DIED. MAGGIE DIXON, 28, head coach of the U.S. Military Academy women’s basketball team, who last month led the Black Knights to their first-ever NCAA women’s tournament, where they lost to No. 6-ranked Tennessee in the first round; following an episode of irregular heartbeat, after collapsing; in Valhalla, New York. At the urging of her older brother, Pittsburgh men’s basketball coach Jamie Dixon, the onetime WNBA hopeful took up coaching after failing to win a spot on the Los Angeles Sparks. The siblings are thought to be the first to coach at the NCAA tournaments in the same year.

DIED. GENE PITNEY, 65, wholesome, ebullient former teen idol who crooned melodramatic tales of failed romance, topping the charts in the 1960s with hits including 24 Hours from Tulsa, (The Man Who Shot) Liberty Valance and the Oscar-nominated title song for the 1961 film Town Without Pity; apparently of natural causes, while on tour in Britain; in Cardiff, Wales. One of the first acts to be produced by Phil Spector, Pitney got his start behind the scenes, penning hits for artists like Ricky Nelson (Hello Mary Lou), Bobby Vee (Rubber Ball) and the Crystals (He’s a Rebel).

Numbers
$290 Current price for a Russian-made AK-47 assault rifle in Baghdad
$112 Price in February, before an attack on a Shiite shrine launched a wave of reprisals and instability

20,000 Estimated number of people killed or disfigured by land mines or unexploded ordnance per year, down from 26,000 in the late 1990s
200,000 sq km Amount of land still contaminated by mines or unexploded ordnance

$100 million Value of U.S. insurance firm AIG’s sponsorship deal with soccer club Manchester United, to have its logo appear on team jerseys for the next four years
$8.5 billion Amount spent by fans in the five biggest European markets on soccer shirts and merchandise in the past year

9,000 Years since humans first had holes drilled into their molars, according to analyses of nine bodies found in Pakistan, adding four millennia to the known history of dentistry
160 Estimated number of years that dentists and doctors have been using anesthetic

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