Obituaries in the news

AP News
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Posted: Nov 24, 2009 3:41 AM

Albert Taylor Scroggins Jr.

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) _ Albert Taylor Scroggins Jr., a World War II veteran and former dean of the University of South Carolina's journalism school, has died. He was 89.

Dunbar Funeral Home confirmed Monday that Scroggins died Saturday after an extended illness, but did not provide specifics.

Scroggins served in the South Pacific in the Navy during World War II. He led journalism and campus publications programs at the University of South Florida, and at Southern Illinois and Samford universities. He retired from the University of South Carolina in 1985 after 20 years as its journalism dean.

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Konstantin Feoktistov

MOSCOW (AP) _ Russian spaceship designer Konstantin Feoktistov, the only non-Communist space traveler in the history of the Soviet space program, has died at the age of 83.

The Russian Space Agency said in a statement Sunday that Feoktistov died of unspecified causes late Saturday in Moscow.

In 1964, he traveled aboard the Voskhod spaceship as part of the first group space flight in history.

Feoktistov played key role in the development of the Voskhod.

Approval of his flight met resistance from the Politburo since Feoktistov was not a Communist Party member at the time.

Until 1990, Feoktistov helped design Soviet space ships and stations such as Soyuz, Progress and Mir.

He criticized the idea of manned space flights to other planets as a "stupid" waste of money.

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Ali Kordan

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) _ Former Iranian Interior Minister Ali Kordan, who was dismissed after being accused of faking a law degree from the University of Oxford, has died, reports said Monday. He was 51.

Kordan died of heart failure Sunday after weeks of treatment for pulmonary and pancreatic problems, according to reports in Iranian newspapers and news agencies.

Iran's parliament dismissed Kordan in 2008 after questions arose over his credentials from Oxford. The university denied it awarded him an honorary doctorate of law.

Kordan claimed his impeachment was a conspiracy by Iran's foreign enemies, including the U.S. and Israel.

His alleged Oxford diploma, dated June 2000, was imprinted with a purported Oxford seal but was riddled with spelling and grammar mistakes.

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Samak Sundaravej

BANGKOK (AP) _ Samak Sundaravej, a firebrand right-wing politician and TV cooking show host who briefly served as Thailand's prime minister and considered himself a proxy of ousted leader Thaksin Shinawatra, died of cancer Tuesday. He was 74.

Samak died at Bumrungrad International Hospital in Bangkok after a long battle with liver cancer, hospital official Navachamol Sangkaew said.

Known as a straight-talker with a penchant for the profane, Samak's political career spanned four decades including an incarnation as an anti-communist rabble rouser, but many supporters remembered him best for his TV show called "Tasting and Complaining," a mix of traditional Thai cooking and rants on pet subjects.

Among the first Thai politicians to express their condolences was former Prime Minister Thaksin, who was forced out in a 2006 coup and tweeted about Samak's death from self-imposed exile.

Samak's tenure as prime minister coincided with one of the worst political crises in Thailand's history and followed the September 2006 that ousted Thaksin. Samak rose to power and became the focus of street rallies by anti-Thaksin protesters who demanded his resignation.

A court ruled in September 2008 that Samak's appearance on his TV cooking show while prime minister _ and the fact that he had accepted money _ constituted a conflict of interest. The hasty decision prompted speculation that the court ruled to curtail protests and end Samak's divisive tenure, amid fears of another coup.

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Yang Xianyi

BEIJING (AP) _ Renowned Chinese literature translator Yang Xianyi has died, China's official Xinhua News Agency said Tuesday. He was 94.

Yang died on Monday in Beijing after a long illness, Xinhua said. He had reportedly been hospitalized for several weeks with throat cancer and a lung infection.

Together with his British wife, Gladys Taylor, Yang translated classics such as the 18th century "A Dream of Red Mansions" as well as more modern works by 20th century writers such as Lu Xun.

Born in the northern port of Tianjin in 1915, Yang was sent by his wealthy family to study classics at Oxford University in 1936, where he met Taylor.

Returning to China in 1940, the two married and embarked on a decades-long career in translation against the backdrop of war, communist revolution and waves of political campaigns.

Their later work, including foreign classics translated into Chinese, was mostly published through Beijing's Foreign Languages Press, becoming standard texts for generations of China scholars.

Although he had secretly aided the communist underground during the 1940s, Yang was later accused of being a British spy and jailed for four years during the 1966-1976 Cultural Revolution, a decade-long rampage of violence and radical communism led by Mao Zedong's youthful Red Guards.

Yang was then expelled from the Communist Party after criticizing the government's bloody June 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations in Beijing's Tiananmen Square.