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March 29th, 2012
04:43 PM ET

'Vets Wanted?' documentary touches on veteran unemployment

Editor's note: Overseas, they fight for freedom. In America, they fight for jobs. “Voters In America: Vets Wanted?” is the first part of a CNN In America documentary series on American voters. Narrated by J.R. Martinez. Re-airing May 19th at 8 p.m. ET on CNN.

By David Matthews, CNN

(CNN) – The Georgia National Guard's 877th Engineering Company spent most of 2011 building bridges and clearing roads in Afghanistan. But when these soldiers returned home before Christmas, they came back to uncertainty: about half of the 877th Company was unemployed. Unlike active duty soldiers who come home to a base and a military paycheck, National Guard soldiers are expected to come back to their pre-deployment jobs. But for many National Guard soldiers, these jobs don't exist.

From Georgia and Florida, to Ohio and Alabama, National Guard units are coming back with many of their soldiers facing unemployment.  The former chief for Employment and Education Outreach for the Guard believes it is a problem the military is just now coming to grips with.  National Guard soldiers report difficulty in finding work in a tough economic climate and believe that their service puts them at a disadvantage.

Our CNN In America documentary follows the soldiers of the 877th on their journey back to their civilian lives.  After the soldiers' reunions with their families, we chronicle their search for jobs and their reconnection with loved ones.  We will be there with them as they attend job fairs and interviews, and examine the challenges facing our veterans coming home. FULL POST

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Filed under: 2012 Election • Disabilities • Discrimination • Documentaries • Economy • Veterans
March 29th, 2012
02:50 PM ET

Stiff security at Tucson school board meetings angers Latinos

Editor's Note: Roberto Rodriguez, the Mexican-American Studies professor who took the photo of Nicolas, has written an opinion piece.  It can be viewed here.

By Thelma Gutierrez and Traci Tamura, CNN

Tucson, Arizona (CNN) - It was the evening of March 13, people lined up outside the Tucson Unified School District office in Tucson, Arizona, to attend a school board meeting. Nine-year-old Nicolas was in line with his teenage sister Juliana, waiting to enter the meeting. Juliana, who is in high school, was there to voice her support for the Mexican-American studies program, which was dismantled this year after it was banned by the state.

One by one, each person had to first go through security screening. It wasn’t until Nicolas, wearing a yellow Batman t-shirt, standing with his legs and arms spread apart while being wanded by an armed security guard, that Roberto Rodriguez, an associate professor of Mexican-American studies at the University of Arizona, took notice of the process. Rodriguez grabbed his phone and took two photographs of Nicolas going through security.

Rodriguez, who is also a syndicated columnist, says he sent one of the photographs to several colleagues. Before he knew it, the picture went viral. It seemed to strike a nerve with some people, particularly within the Latino community, who say the pictures symbolize what Rodriguez calls an anti-Latino, anti-immigrant atmosphere in Arizona.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Education • How we live • Latino in America
Trayvon Martin's death leaves town divided, struggling with stigma
Beyond Sanford's historic downtown is a town where nearly everyone has a different viewpoint on the Trayvon Martin case.
March 29th, 2012
02:16 PM ET

Trayvon Martin's death leaves town divided, struggling with stigma

Editor's note: The killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin has sparked a national dialogue on race; now CNN wants to hear from you. At 8 p.m. ET Thursday at CNN studios in New York, Soledad O'Brien is hosting a town hall meeting called "Beyond Trayvon: Race and Justice in America." The special will air at 8 p.m. ET Friday on CNN.

Join the conversation in a live blog of the broadcast starting at 8 p.m. ET Friday on CNN's In America blog.

By Mallory Simon, CNN

Sanford, Florida (CNN) – Nearly everyone in Sanford agrees on one thing: The death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin is a tragedy.
But his death has taken on a whole new meaning here, where media outlets from around the world have descended, to figure out just what happened more than a month ago when neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman shot and killed Martin.

This once-quiet and quaint town is now the center of a controversy that has put residents in the position of examining just what the racial undertones of the case say about their hometown. And it makes them wonder whether they will forever be known as the a place where an unarmed black kid heading home from the store with Skittles and tea was killed by a Hispanic man claiming self-defense.

For some, the case has become a rallying cry, a chance to air what they believe are years of grievances and cases of injustice between the police, the courts and the black community. For others, it has forced them to defend their town as a place that is not an inherently racist, a place where a young black man cannot be killed without consequence.

Read the full story

Engage: Senator Rubio endorses Mitt Romney
Marco Rubio endorsed Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
March 29th, 2012
12:26 PM ET

Engage: Senator Rubio endorses Mitt Romney

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

Marco Rubio endorses Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney - The Miami Herald

FBI allowed agents to "bend or Suspend the Law'; now, that language has been removed from training materials - The New York Times

Augusta National Golf Club has not invited a woman to the course in eighty year history. Could a sponsor's female CEO break into the "boy's club"? - Bloomberg

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, the first Latina governor, at odds with some Latinos - National Public Radio

Census analysis: "more than half of older women in America are unable to pay for their basic needs" - The Daily Beast

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Filed under: Engage
Group sought wedge between blacks, gays to fight same-sex marriage
"The strategic goal ... is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks," says an internal National Organization for Marriage memo.
March 29th, 2012
11:17 AM ET

Group sought wedge between blacks, gays to fight same-sex marriage

By the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) – A national group opposed to same-sex marriage aimed to fight it by driving "a wedge between gays and blacks" and identifying "glamorous" Latino artists and athletes to advocate traditional marriage, according to newly released confidential memos.

The strategies were among several pursued by the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), which has actively campaigned against same-sex marriage efforts.

The Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights organization, said it obtained the documents, part of a civil action in Maine, on Monday and published them on its website.

"This court-ordered disclosure shows NOM fighting a losing battle with strategy and tactics that are racially and ethnically divisive, filled with false political calculations, and out of touch with the majority of fair-minded Americans," Human Rights Campaign said in a statement.

Most of the memos were written in 2009. The president of NOM did not dispute the authenticity of the memos, saying in an online statement, "Gay marriage is not a civil right."

Read the full story

Obesity rate climbs for Mexican-Americans, study says
"Mexican-Americans get sucked into our fast food culture," said CEO of a Latino health organization, Venus Gines.
March 29th, 2012
07:00 AM ET

Obesity rate climbs for Mexican-Americans, study says

By Jennifer Bixler, CNN

(CNN) – Hispanics are one of the fastest growing ethnic groups in the United States.  By the year 2050, the U.S. Census Bureau projects Hispanics will compose 30 percent of the population.  Most are Mexican-American.  A new government study drills down on the changing way Mexican-Americans adults are eating and its effect on their health.

Researchers at the National Center for Health Statistics compared statistics from 1982-1984 and 1999-2006.

Among the findings:

  • Obesity is up.  In the early 1980s 21% of Mexican Americans were obese.  By the middle of the last decade, the number had climbed to close to 35%.
  • More Mexican-Americans also have diabetes.  Close to 14% have it now – versus just under 10% 25 years ago.
  • The group's consumption of carbs is also up from just under 46% in the 1980s to just over 51%.

Read the full post on CNN's The chart blog