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March 7th, 2013
12:45 PM ET

Sheryl Sandberg:"Don't hate her because she's successful"

(CNN) - CNN Anchor Soledad O' Brien speaks to TIME's Executive Editor Radhika Jones about the magazine's cover story on Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.

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Filed under: How we live • What we think • Who we are • Women
February 13th, 2013
09:30 AM ET

CNN Fact Check: Illegal border crossings at lowest levels in 40 years

By Ann Colwell and Tom Watkins, CNN

(CNN) - During Tuesday night's State of the Union address, President Barack Obama touted his administration's efforts on reducing illegal immigration.

The claim:

"Real reform means stronger border security, and we can build on the progress my administration has already made - putting more boots on the southern border than at any time in our history, and reducing illegal crossings to their lowest levels in 40 years."

That's a big claim, so CNN decided to take a closer look.

The facts:

In fiscal year 2011, there were 18,506 U.S. Border Patrol agents in the Southwest Border Sectors - up steadily from 3,555 agents in 1992, according to Customs and Border Protection figures.

A Pew Research Hispanic Center study finds that Border Patrol apprehensions of all unauthorized immigrants are at their lowest level since 1971. "In spite of (and perhaps because of) increases in the number of U.S. Border Patrol agents, apprehensions of Mexicans trying to cross the border illegally have plummeted in recent years—from more than 1 million in 2005 to 286,000 in 2011—a likely indication that fewer unauthorized migrants are trying to cross," it concluded.

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End of an era
February 12th, 2013
12:00 PM ET

Unbeaten in 10 years, wheelchair tennis ace Esther Vergeer retires

(CNN) - After 10 years unbeaten, and an incredible 470 successive victories, Esther Vergeer is hanging up her racket.

The 31-year-old has dominated wheelchair tennis for more than a decade, winning seven Paralympic gold medals, 13 world titles and all 21 of the grand slam singles events she entered, plus 23 in doubles.

"A special day: officially stopping tennis," Vergeer wrote on her Twitter page Tuesday.

She won 169 singles titles overall - 120 of them consecutively - plus 159 in doubles, and helped the Netherlands win the World Team Cup 12 times.

"I am impressed I got this far. I sometimes still cannot believe that in all these years I did not have a breakdown. But for now it's enough," Vergeer told reporters.

She was hailed as an inspirational figure by the head of the International Tennis Federation, Francesco Ricci Bitti.

"Esther Vergeer is a tremendous ambassador not only for tennis but also for disability sports," Ricci Bitti said.

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Filed under: Disabilities • Sports • Who we are • Women
February 1st, 2013
05:43 PM ET

Americans with Disabilities Act opens pools to disabled swimmers

By Mike M. Ahlers and Tory Dunnan

Washington (CNN) - Some 23 years after Congress used federal muscle to open jobs, public transportation and public accommodations to disabled Americans, another venue is coming under the federal mandate - swimming pools.

Beginning this week, most public swimming pools, wading pools and spas must be accessible to disabled people to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Facilities that don't meet the standard may face civil penalties of $55,000.

The move has been in the works for several years. The Justice Department published standards for accessibility in 2010 and announced a March 2012 deadline for compliance. But confusion over the standards became so contentious that pool operators threatened coast-to-coast pool closures last spring, a scare dubbed "Poolmagedden."

In response to the uproar, the Department of Justice moved the deadline to Jan. 31, sought to clarify the rule and grandfathered in some equipment that was purchased by pool operators during the debacle. The Justice Department also reiterated that pool operators need to provide access to existing pools only if it is "readily achievable," meaning it does not involve significant difficulty or expense.

Advocates for the disabled say there is "no excuse" for public pools not to be accessible.

"They've had plenty of time" to find a suitable way to accommodate disabled swimmers, said Patrick Wojahn, a public policy analyst with the National Disability Rights Network. "It's time to make this happen so that people with disabilities don't have to go through another summer without being able to go swimming with their families."

The new rule applies to all public swimming pools, hotels, motels, health clubs, recreation centers, public country clubs and businesses. It also applies to community pools associated with private residential communities if the pool is made available to the public for rental or use.

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January 31st, 2013
12:08 PM ET

The American secretary who became king: A woman's journey to royalty

By Isha Sesay and Teo Kermeliotis, CNN

(CNN) – When Peggielene Bartels went to bed on a summer night in 2008, she was an ordinary administrative assistant living in a modest one-bedroom condo just outside Washington D.C.

But a few hours later, when a persistent ringing phone woke her up in the dead of the August night, the 55-year-old found out she was much more than simply a secretary.

Read more: The Lady King of Otuam

At the other end of the line was Bartels's cousin, from Otuam, a small fishing village on the coast of Ghana. Excited and humble, he congratulated her on being the new king of Otuam.

"I said, 'listen, it's 4 o'clock in the morning in the U.S., I am very tired, let me sleep,'" remembers Bartels. "I thought he was trying to really play games with me."

But this was no time for games.

The previous king of Otuam, who was Bartels's uncle, had just died. The village elders, who remembered Bartels from the times she'd visited with her mother, had decided to anoint her as their new ruler.

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January 30th, 2013
10:25 AM ET

Voices for and against immigration reform proposals

By CNN Staff

(CNN) - The sudden momentum toward a bipartisan plan to reform the U.S. immigration system has sparked a torrent of discussion about this politically charged and emotional issue. Here's a sampling of voices from across the spectrum of viewpoints:

"Anything other than having these people going home and apply through our regular immigration system that successfully admits over 1 million people every year is amnesty," said a CNN commenter using the screen name ninesixteen. "Allowing them to wait in the U.S. is a reward. Our immigration is deliberately constructed to not let in unlimited numbers. These people violate our laws yet expect to be allowed to stay and work when others wait patiently in their countries. Legalization is wrong."

"Illegal immigration has already put massive and unaffordable burdens on the welfare state and with 20 million or more applying for Amnesty, this will simply accelerate this process," said Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips, who argues that the real number of undocumented immigrants in the United States is higher than the frequently cited 11 million figure.

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January 29th, 2013
06:03 PM ET

'Now's the time' to move on immigration, Obama says

By Dan Lothian, Jessica Yellin and Tom Cohen, CNN

Las Vegas (CNN) - President Barack Obama threw his full support behind a comprehensive overhaul of U.S. immigration laws on Tuesday, saying "now's the time" to replace a system he called "out of date and badly broken."

Speaking at a majority Hispanic high school in Las Vegas, Obama said "a broad consensus is emerging" behind the issue across the country, with signs of progress in Congress.

However, he acknowledged a fierce debate ahead on an issue he described as emotional and challenging, but vital to economic growth and ensuring equal opportunity for all.

"At this moment, it looks like there's a genuine desire to get this done soon. And that's very encouraging," Obama said, later adding: "This time, action must follow. We can't allow immigration reform to get bogged down in an endless debate."

The president spoke a day after eight senators - four from each party - introduced a framework for overhauling the immigration system that would provide an eventual path to citizenship for most of the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants in America.

While touted as a breakthrough by its drafters, the plan was similar in many aspects to previous immigration reform efforts that have failed in recent years.

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Obama lays out his plan to overhaul immigration
January 29th, 2013
02:50 PM ET

Obama lays out his plan to overhaul immigration

(CNN) - CNN.com has a live blog during the President's speech on immigration, and you can watch the president speak here and on CNN TV.

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Filed under: iReport • Politics • Where we live • Who we are
January 29th, 2013
08:16 AM ET

Immigration Q&A: Amnesty or path to citizenship?

By Ted Barrett, Dana Bash and Deirdre Walsh, CNN

Washington (CNN) - A bipartisan group of senators on Monday introduced a plan for overhauling U.S. immigration policy a day before President Barack Obama was to lay out his plan.

Obama to pitch immigration reform

The eight senators say their plan will secure the border and provide a path to citizenship some undocumented immigrants already in the country.

Critics say the citizenship component is granting amnesty for those who entered the country illegally.

Here are some frequently asked questions on immigration reform:

Q: What's behind this latest immigration reform plan?

A: The new push for immigration reform follows devastating poll results for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who in November won just 27% of the Latino vote. That's down from 44% for President George W. Bush in 2004 and 31% for Sen. John McCain four years ago.

The dramatic slide jolted key Republicans to act quickly on the complex and emotional issue that has divided the parties for years.

Republicans long have argued that Latino voters, many of whom are Catholic and pro-life, would find a home in the GOP if not for the harsh rhetoric some Republicans use to debate illegal immigration.

Democrats also are under pressure to reach a deal. Many Latino voters were disappointed that President Barack Obama didn't work harder in his first term to pass a bill. Immediately after his election, Latino leaders pushed the president to make sure it would be a priority for his second term.

As a signal of how important the issue is for Senate Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced last week an immigration reform bill would be labeled S-1, meaning it's Senate bill No. 1 of the new Congress - and clearly a top priority.

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Senators outline bipartisan immigration plan
January 28th, 2013
10:30 AM ET

Senators outline bipartisan immigration plan

By Political Unit, CNN

Washington (CNN) – A bipartisan group of senators plans to announce Monday an agreement on reforming the nation’s immigration system, which President Barack Obama has called a priority in his second term in office.

The eight lawmakers’ proposal includes provisions for a path to citizenship for immigrants already living in the United States, and guest worker and employment verification systems.

What's in the plan?

The proposal in the Senate and Obama’s trip Tuesday to Las Vegas, where he’ll press for immigration reform, signal the largest movement in years for major reforms to the county’s immigration system.

Aides say the president's Tuesday remarks will touch on the blueprint he's detailed in the past: improving border security, cracking down on employers who hire undocumented workers, and creating a pathway to "earned" citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

Those align closely with what the eight senators laid out in a framework of their legislation, though specific details have yet to be hammered out. According to the framework obtained by CNN, the lawmakers will push four “legislative pillars” containing mainly broad stroke measures:

Read the full post on CNN's Political Ticker blog
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