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Child poverty burdening more U.S. counties
A girl visits a food pantry in Pennsylvania. One third of U.S. counties have child poverty rates above the national average.
November 29th, 2011
07:59 PM ET

Child poverty burdening more U.S. counties

More counties are showing an increase in the proportion of children living under the poverty line, according to United States Census Bureau estimates released Tuesday.

More than a fifth of all counties in the United States – 653 out of 3,142 – saw a statistically significant increase in the number of school-age children living in poverty between 2007 and 2010. Only eight counties saw a significant decrease in the same time period.

Federal guidelines generally determine a family of four to be in poverty if their before-tax earnings are less than $22,314 per year.

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Filed under: Age • Census • Economy • How we live • Social justice
November 29th, 2011
02:04 PM ET

Family says undocumented student killed himself over fears he'd never go to college

By Rafael Romo, Senior Latin American Affairs Editor

(CNN) - Joaquin Luna was only 18. The senior at Juarez Lincoln High School in Mission, Texas, dreamed of going to college. But since he was in the country illegally, that was nearly impossible.

Luna was quickly losing hope of ever going to college, his family says. The Friday after Thanksgiving, Luna put on a suit, kissed his family members, went into the bathroom and shot himself in the head, according to family members.

"He didn't see no other way or no other option," his brother Diyra Mendoza told CNN affiliate KGBT.

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Engage: Tyler Perry to Penn State accuser: 'What you have done is so courageous'
Tyler Perry recently wrote an open letter to the boy whose allegations spurred the investigation into a Penn State football coach.
November 29th, 2011
01:58 PM ET

Engage: Tyler Perry to Penn State accuser: 'What you have done is so courageous'

Engage with news and opinions from around the web about under-reported, untold stories from undercovered communities.

Tyler Perry to youth in Penn State scandal: 'I am your brother!'
Tyler Perry, who has spoken publicly of being molested as a child, writes an open letter to the young boy whose allegations spurred the 2008 criminal investigation of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky: "I must tell you, what you have done is so courageous. The strength that it must have taken for your 11-year-old voice to speak out about such a horrible act is something that I didn’t have the strength or courage to do at that age."  - Newsweek/The Daily Beast

Study: The high price of low social status
Does one's perceived social status impact how much one will pay for a product? Stanford researcher Daisy Grewal writes about a recent set of studies that investigate how one's perceived social status, the more some are willing pay for services, products and healthcare. - Scientific American FULL POST

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Filed under: Engage
November 29th, 2011
11:59 AM ET

Girl in a Coma: 'We're the girls next door, we're your sisters, we're your tias.'

By Gil DeLaRosa, CNN

(CNN) -   Members of the all-girl, Mexican-American rock band Girl in a Coma are unabashed about their tattooed look and hard-edged sound. But they're also childhood friends who grew up in San Antonio, listening to a mix of Tex-Mex, Tejano - and punk.

With their fourth album, "Exits & All the Rest," released this month on Joan Jett's Blackheart Records, they're trying to prove that rock can come from anywhere, and in many forms.

"We're females. We're trying to prove to everybody that, you know, we can rock, too,"  bassist Jennifer Alva said. "We're Latinas, we're representing our culture. Two-thirds gay. We have a lot on our plate. We're trying to do a good job of representing all three." FULL POST

Opinion: Defending ‘All-American Muslim’ against Muslim complaints
TLC's new show "All-American Muslim" showcases families in Dearborn, Michigan, including Samira Amen.
November 29th, 2011
06:00 AM ET

Opinion: Defending ‘All-American Muslim’ against Muslim complaints

Editor's Note: Khurram Dara is the author of "The Crescent Directive: An essay on improving the image of Islam in America," coming this winter (Tensile). He tweets @KhurramDara.

By Khurram Dara, Special to CNN

For the last decade, Islam has been under a lot of scrutiny, and understandably so. When you’ve got terrorists all over the world declaring war on America and the West in the name of Islam, it’s only natural that people will have questions.

But this reasonable concern has rapidly turned into irrational suspicion, with anti-Muslim groups seizing on the opportunity to paint all Muslims in America as radical-loving, violence-approving foreigners.

The problem is that the response from American Muslims has been about as effective as Herman Cain’s PR strategy in the face of sexual harassment allegations. Instead of pooling our resources to combat radicalism, or taking a more active role in our communities so that other Americans better understand us, we’ve resorted to defense tactics.

Read Khurram Dara's commentary