By Moni Basu, CNN
(CNN) - Singer Petula Clark once raved about downtown as the place that took away loneliness and worries and made everyone happy.
"The lights are much brighter there
You can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares and go
Downtown, things'll be great when you're
Downtown, no finer place for sure,
Downtown, everything's waiting for you"
Clark sang that ditty decades ago after which some American downtowns fell into gloom and doom. But Thursday, new census data showed that downtowns were officially back as happening places.
In many American cities, people are moving back into downtowns, defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as within a two-mile radius of City Hall. Data from the 2010 census (PDF) said that 16 million people, or about 6% of America's 258 million metro-area population, were living in downtowns.
Metro areas with 5 million or more people experienced double-digit population growth rates within their downtown areas, according to census numbers released Thursday.
The Windy City topped the list. Downtown Chicago registered 48,000 new residents over 10 years. Also on the list were New York, Philadelphia, Salt Lake City and Washington.
Demographers cite gentrification and people's a desire to live closer to their jobs as two main reasons for moving downtown. FULL POST
By Moni Basu, CNN
(CNN) - Before 2000, you had to pick one: White, black, Asian, American Indian, Alaska Native or some other race. But now you can tick multiple boxes on the U.S. Census Bureau's race category.
The 2010 census provided the first glimpse of trends in multirace reporting since it was the second time such an option was available. And what it shows is that people who say they are a mix of races grew by a larger percentage than people who reported a single race, according to the data released Thursday.
People who reported a background of mixed race grew by 32% to 9 million between 2000 and 2010. In comparison, single-race population increased 9.2%.
In all, the U.S. population increased by 9.7% since 2000. Many multiple-race groups increased by 50% or more.
But that does not necessarily mean there are many more children of interracial couples. FULL POST
By Herndon Graddick, Special to CNN
Editor's note: Herndon Graddick is the president of Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.
(CNN) - This week, Jennifer Tyrrell and her family went to the headquarters of the Boy Scouts of America in Irving, Texas, to deliver a petition of 300,000 signatures asking the organization to end its ban on gay Scouts and gay Scout leaders.
The BSA's policy of "not granting membership to open or avowed homosexuals" is a travesty.
It led to the dismissal of Jennifer, who was the den leader of her own 7-year-old son's troop in Bridgeport, Ohio. By reaffirming its anti-gay policy this week, the BSA is telling the entire nation that maintaining its legacy of discrimination is more important to them than strengthening the bond between a mother and her son.
The BSA clearly has its priorities backwards. In spite of calls for change from its own board members, from high-profile Eagle Scouts and from Americans of all stripes, it refuses to budge. Other organizations, such as the Girl Scouts, 4-H clubs, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and even the U.S. Armed Forces, have put an end to such discrimination.
It might not be easy for an organization to admit it is wrong. Especially since the BSA has had this policy for decades; it has even gone all the way to the Supreme Court to try to preserve it.
But just because you have a right to discriminate doesn't mean it is right to discriminate.
By Lisa Respers France, CNN
(CNN) - Kerry Washington knows you have been waiting.
The star of the hit ABC series "Scandal" is fully aware that there is a legion of "gladiators in suits" (as fans call themselves) eagerly awaiting the return of the series. She, too, is pretty excited to be back playing Washington, D.C. insider and crisis management expert Olivia Pope. Pope is a "fixer" who formerly worked for her lover, Republican President Fitzgerald Grant.
When told that there are many women who try to emulate both Pope's sense of fashion and take-charge personality, Washington laughs.
"I do, too," she said.
The series ended its first season with the revelation that the character Quinn Perkins, an employee of Pope's (and played by Katie Lowes), was not actually Quinn Perkins.
Perkins calls Pope after she is jailed for the murder of her boyfriend, a reporter who was digging into the secrets of President Grant's administration.
Did we mention that said president also happens to be in love with Pope?
Season 2 answers the "Who is Quinn" question in the first episode, but Washington said there will be plenty of other surprises and mystery this season that even she isn't sure about.