(CNN) - With two former winners among the contenders for the 2013 Women's Prize for Fiction, this year's shortlist highlights the literary world's top female power players. Formerly known as the Orange prize, the £30,000 ($45,000) award for best female writing in English across the globe will be announced Wednesday.
CNN takes a closer look at the six women going head-to-head for one of the most celebrated literature accolades.
By Michael Chen, KGTV
(KGTV) – It's a first in the history of the military, as the Pentagon officially recognized a local Navy veteran's change of gender.
Born a male, Autumn Sandeen said as a teen, she identified as a female.
She joined the Navy, lived as male and kept her secret for two decades before retiring.
"If I would have been myself, I would have been kicked out," said Sandeen.
According to military guidelines, gender identity issues are a mental disorder and detrimental to good order and discipline.
In 2011, as the ban on gays and lesbians was lifted, the transgender ban remained.
"The best way to explain it is I felt like a bridesmaid, never a bride," said Sandeen.
Twenty months later, a step down the aisle toward acceptance.
"I felt tremendous, like I accomplished something, not just himself, but for the broader transgender community," said Sandeen. FULL POST
By Annalyn Kurtz @AnnalynKurtz, CNNMoney
(CNNMoney) - Moms are the sole or primary breadwinner in four out of 10 households with children, a record high according to an analysis of U.S. Census data by the Pew Research Center.
But that doesn't mean Americans approve.
Pew researchers surveyed about 1,000 Americans last month and found that 51% believe children are better off when a mom stays home with the kids and doesn't hold a job. Only about 8% say the same about fathers.
Half also said the increase in the number of women working for pay has made it harder for marriages to succeed. On the other hand, two thirds said it has made it easier for families to live more comfortably.
Curiously, 79% rejected the idea that women should return to their "traditional roles."
By Jamie Gumbrecht, CNN
(CNN) - On Saturday, 68 seniors will graduate from Wilcox County High School in South Georgia, leaving behind a legacy that could last long after they’ve said their goodbyes: Next year, for the first time, their high school will host a prom.
It’s a new tradition in their small rural community, one they hope will eliminate their county’s custom of private, racially segregated proms.
A small group from 2013’s senior class sparked the idea of an integrated prom this year, bucking 40 years of high school tradition.
When their county’s racially segregated schools combined in the early 1970s, the school called off its homecoming dance and prom; it was a volatile time at the newly integrated school, alumni said, and parents and school leaders were wary of black and white students attending the same dance. Like in many other Southern communities, Wilcox County students and parents stepped in to plan private, off-site parties, complete with formal gowns, tuxedos, DJs and décor.
But long after outward racial tension died down, the private, segregated parties in Wilcox County remained – a quiet reminder of racism, students said.
This year, a few white and black seniors organized a prom open to all Wilcox County High School students, whether white, black, Latino or Asian.
By Phil Gast. Greg Botelho and Devon M. Sayers, CNN
(CNN) - Openly gay youths will be allowed to join scouting, a historic decision the Boy Scouts of America says will keep it unclouded by "a single, divisive, and unresolved societal issue."
More than 60% of the group's 1,400-member national council voted Thursday at an annual meeting in Grapevine, Texas, for the change, which takes effect Jan. 1.
"No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone," says the resolution.
The BSA, however, will maintain its ban on gay adult leaders.
"The resolution also reinforces that Scouting is a youth program, and any sexual conduct, whether heterosexual or homosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting," the 103-year-old organization said in a statement after the vote.
The BSA said there are no plans for further review of the issue.
By Devon M. Sayers and Phil Gast, CNN
(CNN) - The eyes of the country will be upon Texas on Thursday.
That's where 1,400 members of the Boy Scouts of America's national council are expected to vote on whether to end the 103-year-old group's outright ban on gay youths.
The outcome, to be announced late afternoon, follows months of intense debate among interest groups and within the ranks of scouting itself.
It comes down to a single sentence at the end of a resolution.
"No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone."
If the policy change is approved, the BSA will maintain its ban on openly gay adult leaders.
By Alan Silverleib, CNN Congressional Producer
Washington (CNN) - The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bipartisan "Gang of Eight" immigration reform bill on Tuesday, sending the measure to the Senate floor for consideration and giving the bill's backers their first major legislative victory.
Members of the Democratic-controlled panel voted 13-5 in favor of the measure.
If enacted, the plan would constitute the first overhaul of the nation's immigration policy since 1986.
"The dysfunction in our current immigration system affects all of us and it is long past time for reform. I hope that our history, our values, and our decency can inspire us finally to take action," Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, said.
Spectators cramming the committee room applauded and cheered loudly following the vote.
The panel's 10 Democrats were joined in supporting the bill by three Republicans: Arizona's Jeff Flake, South Carolina's Lindsey Graham, and Utah's Orrin Hatch. Flake and Graham are two of its four Republican authors.
Both party leaders in the Senate appeared supportive of the effort, a positive sign for backers hoping to win a solid majority in the full chamber.
By Matt Peckham, TIME
(TIME) - Skim the zoomed-out surface of Humboldt State University’s alarming “Hate Map” and you’ll encounter angry clouds of bright red framed by smears of gloomy blue, as if some giant freak storm were raining down hell across the the United States.
What you’re looking at is actually a map created by pairing Google‘s Maps API with a hailstorm of homophobic, racist and other prejudicial tweets. It’s part of a project overseen by Humboldt State University professor Dr. Monica Stephens, who, along with a team of undergraduate researchers, wanted to test for geographic relationships to hate speech.
Above the map, the words “homophobic,” “racist” and “disability” define alternate “hate storm” views, each describing a range of highly offensive terms. Click on the keywords or any of their subcategories and the map shifts, the splotches reorganizing to reflect occurrences of the selected term: Bright red areas describe the “most hate,” while light blue ones describe “some hate.”
Creating a map like this is essentially about data-plotting: In this case, HSU says the data was derived from “every geocoded tweet in the United States from June 2012 – April 2013″ that contained keywords related to hate speech. How’d HSU collect all of that Twitter data? Through DOLLY, a University of Kentucky project that maps social media according to geography, allowing researchers to then comb through the data for patterns or correlations. But what about tweets that used the keywords in a positive (that is, “critical of them”) sense? HSU’s researchers read through the tweets manually, categorizing each as positive, neutral or negative — the map only displays the tweets categorized as negative.
By Mariano Castillo, CNN
Birmingham, Alabama (CNN) - The class of 1963 crowded in a rectangle on the dance floor, the memories of high school fresh on their minds as the band played in a sea of pink and blue hues.
Aretha Franklin. Etta James. The Temptations. Just what you would expect to be playing at a 1960s prom. Yet the song that drew the most bodies to the dance floor was "The Wobble."
Until this hip-hop song emptied the chairs, it felt as if the auditorium had been transported back 50 years.
But it's 2013, and despite the full-court nostalgia for the 1960s, that decade was one of the most difficult times in Birmingham's history.
Societal tensions over race were so high in 1963 that the city canceled senior prom for five of the city's segregated high schools for blacks.
Today, a half century has passed since the seminal civil rights protests that changed Birmingham and plotted a path for the nation away from segregation and toward equal rights.
Just like that path, the healing process has been a long one.
The Historic 1963 Prom, held Friday and hosted by the city of Birmingham, closed one chapter for these Alabamans.
(WUSA) - After 17 years, two long-lost sisters meet by accident at a high school track race.
What defines you? Maybe it’s the shade of your skin, the place you grew up, the accent in your words, the make up of your family, the gender you were born with, the intimate relationships you chose to have or your generation? As the American identity changes we will be there to report it. In America is a venue for creative and timely sharing of news that explores who we are. Reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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