'Selena' co-star Lupe Ontiveros dies at 69
July 27th, 2012
12:30 PM ET

'Selena' co-star Lupe Ontiveros dies at 69

By Lisa Respers France, CNN

(CNN) - Actress Lupe Ontiveros, who co-starred in the hit films "Selena" and "As Good As It Gets," has died, CNN confirmed on Friday. She was 69.

Her publicists told CNN the cause of death was liver cancer.

The Mexican-American actress built her career playing domestic workers, and in a 2009 interview with NPR said she had appeared as a maid more than 150 times in roles on shows like "Who's the Boss." Her near constant gigs made her one of the most recognizable Latina actresses in Hollywood.

Read the full post on CNN's Marquee blog

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Filed under: Latino in America • Who we are • Women
July 27th, 2012
10:00 AM ET

Woman who had gay slurs carved in her body speaks out

By Chris Welch, CNN

Omaha, Nebraska (CNN) - An alleged victim of a hate crime in Nebraska spoke out for the first time Thursday, the same day that more than a thousand people rallied in support of the victim that police say was assaulted by masked men who carved homophobic slurs into her body.

"I can't adequately express how much it has meant to me that people are standing with me and people are standing for me," Charlie Rogers, 33, said in an interview with CNN affiliate KETV.

Three masked men allegedly bound Rogers and carved the words into her skin Sunday, police in Lincoln, Nebraska, said. The incident has been classified as a hate crime because derogatory terms for lesbians that were used, said Officer Katie Flood, a spokeswoman for the Lincoln Police Department.

Rogers said she had tried to keep her identity secret after the incident. But she decided to go public Thursday because there have been allegations that the attack did not happen.

"For people to think this doesn't happen here, it does. It did," Rogers told the affiliate.

Rogers' attorney, Megan Mikolajczyk, told CNN Rogers wanted to make it clear it was not "a hoax." Asked if there was anyone specific they were addressing, Mikolajczyk said there was not, but that she wasn't surprised there were naysayers.

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Overheard on CNN.com: Revisiting battlegrounds of the sexes
Many commenters this week have been talking about gender-related issues. Can men and women find common ground?
July 26th, 2012
08:43 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Revisiting battlegrounds of the sexes

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

The war of the sexes is still up for grabs. But are there really battles to be fought? Can men and women reach a truce? Here are a few different areas where readers haggled out their views.

1. Strength of friendships

A story about a group of men who are friends and take pictures of themselves together every five years - for 30 years - has gotten a very positive response from readers, who told us about their own friends and their favorite photos. One thing we noticed was several people discussing which gender is better at being friends. You be the judge.

Five guys take same photo for 30 years

Many readers said they think men have the edge with friends.

Stolat: "Finally CNN, a feel-good story that doesn't make me want to support xenocide on the opposite sex. Good read. I agree, women are less successful in placing priority on friendships."

But some are envious of women's good times.

boarddog: "My wife is in her mid-40s and is still close friends with three of her friends from high school. (They all still live in the same town). My friends have changed with time. (I moved away from the home town in my early 20s). I now have just a couple of "close" friends, but I think we'll all be in each other's lives from here out. Sometimes I wish I had those long time friends like my wife ..."

A woman on a different thread was less optimistic.

ImIrish: "We are b--es often, jealousy is a problem, and women don't forget. If guys have problem with each other, they get it out, and that's it. Women hang onto stuff forever (again, sadly, I am including myself). I do have a very dear friend that I grew up with (we were 1 1/2 when we met!), but she lives out-of-state, has a busy life, so we mostly keep in touch by e-mail. I love her to death, but I wish we were geographically closer. Sometimes, I feel very alone and sad. My husband is great, but talking to another woman is different."

This person wondered how the response to the story would have differed if the group were female instead of male.  FULL POST

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Five arrested, accused of terrorizing Jewish camp in Pennsylvania
From left: Tyler Cole Spencer, Mark Trail and Cassandra Robertson are accused of terrorizing a Jewish camp in Pennsylvania.
July 26th, 2012
06:39 PM ET

Five arrested, accused of terrorizing Jewish camp in Pennsylvania

Editor's note: Note offensive language.

By Julia Greenberg, CNN

(CNN) - Three adults and two juveniles were arrested Wednesday for allegedly terrorizing a Jewish camp in Pennsylvania. Authorities say Tyler Cole Spencer, 18, Mark Trail, 21, Cassandra Robertson, 18, and two juveniles intimidated Jewish campers and staff at Camp Bonim on three separate occasions on July 14 and 15. Spencer allegedly drove a white Ford pickup truck "recklessly" through the camp, "narrowly missing several campers and staff" and damaging fields, yards, buildings and fences, the police criminal complaint said. The group also allegedly used paintball guns to shoot Jewish campers and staff, hitting one 18-year-old camper leaving a synagogue, according to the complaint.

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Filed under: Discrimination • Ethnicity • How we look
July 26th, 2012
01:21 PM ET

Bronx native John Orozco an unlikely gymnastics star

By Jason Carroll and Vivienne Foley, CNN

New York (CNN) - John Orozco won his first medal in gymnastics when he was 9. But he didn't hold onto that medal for long, giving it to another boy in the competition who was in tears after being teased for a bad performance.

"He walked over to the kid that they were making fun of, and he said, 'Here you go,' and he took his medal off and put it around the kid and said, 'One day you'll be better than I am. Don't cry,' " says his mother, Damaris Orozco, who still gets choked up recalling that gesture.

"That's John. That's what he does. It's who he is."

That same Puerto Rican boy from the Bronx is now 19 and has made it all the way to the London Olympics. His heart is set on winning a gold medal - this one for his country. He may be the best hope for a U.S. gold medal in gymnastics in 2012.

Damaris Orozco says that she and her husband, William, are thrilled but not surprised their son made the Olympic team. "When that little boy told us when he was 10 years old, 'I want to go to 2012,' we believed him."

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Opinion: Respect Sally Ride's decision not to come out
Sally Ride appears in an offical NASA portrait in January 1983.
July 26th, 2012
09:00 AM ET

Opinion: Respect Sally Ride's decision not to come out

Editor's note: Capt. Joan E. Darrah served for nearly 30 years as a Naval intelligence officer, serving as chief of staff and deputy commander at the Office of Naval Intelligence, among other offices. After retirement, she was a leading advocate in the fight to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and testified before the House Committee on Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel. Darrah lives with her partner of 22 years, Lynne Kennedy, in Alexandria, Virginia.

By Joan Darrah, Special to CNN

(CNN) - When I heard the news that Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, died after a long battle with pancreatic cancer I was shocked and saddened.

She was a woman clearly ahead of her time, blazing trails for all of those behind her, showing other women that it was possible to be smart, to care about science and to be an astronaut. After her death, it was revealed that she was gay, but it didn't totally surprise me.

Being a lesbian myself, I admit I was proud to learn that such an accomplished American pioneer and role model was on "our team." Some are saying that she let the gay and lesbian community down, that she should have been more visible and should have publicly declared her sexual orientation. She could have made a contribution to gay rights. She could have inspired many young people struggling with their sexuality.

But it isn't that easy. Especially for women like Sally and me, who grew up in the '50s and '60s.

I retired from the Navy in June 2002 as a captain after nearly 30 years of living under "don't ask, don't tell" and its predecessor. Once I retired, I knew that I needed to add my voice to the fight against DADT, to be a visible example of a gay service member. However, outing myself beyond my close circle of friends wasn't easy. I was proud of my accomplishments but a big part of me wanted to keep my personal life private.

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July 25th, 2012
08:16 PM ET

Opinion: Sally Ride opens a new frontier for others

Editor's Note: Ainissa G. Ramirez, Ph.D., is the director of the award-winning science lecture series for children called Science Saturdays at Yale, and hosts a video series, "Material Marvels. "Technology Review named her one of the world’s 100 Top Young Innovators for her contributions in transforming technology. Follow her on @blkgrilphd. This piece was written in association with The Op-Ed Project.

By Ainissa G. Ramirez, Special to CNN

(CNN) - Sally Ride was a fantastic physicist and astronaut, and later a science education reformer.

I was surprised to learn of her passing on Monday. I was even more surprised to learn that she was a lesbian.

Sally Ride, first American woman in space, dies

She left us with one last gift — she came out publicly.

In just one line, the obituary issued by her company shared her love with the world: “In addition to Tam O’Shaughnessy, her partner of 27 years, Sally is survived by her mother, Joyce; her sister, Bear; her niece, Caitlin, and nephew, Whitney; her staff of 40 at Sally Ride Science; and many friends and colleagues around the country.”

With that, another dimension has been added to her remarkable life, inspiring those who are different, especially gay children.


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The changing color of our neighborhoods
Dwayne Williams has lived in the Clinton Hill section of Brooklyn for 38 years. He feels gentrification is pushing him out.
July 25th, 2012
12:42 PM ET

The changing color of our neighborhoods

Listen: The changing color of our neighborhoods
By Steve Kastenbaum, CNN

(CNN) – The complexion of some of America’s cities is changing. According to the last census, four of the 25 fastest gentrifying zip codes are in Brooklyn, New York. Upwardly mobile families are moving back into urban centers, reversing a trend of the 1970’s commonly called "white flight."

[:57] “To me, gentrification is when a certain group of people move into a neighborhood and they totally take it over. They bring in all their values and their lifestyle,” said Michele Payne, a long time resident of the Clinton Hill section of Brooklyn, NY.

Middle and upper middle class people are lured by affordable prices and an underutilized housing stock into communities within an easy commute of work centers. They are changing the dynamics of neighborhoods that were once considered unappealing because of high crime rates, low performing schools and a lack of services. According to the last census, four of the 25 fastest gentrifying zip codes are in Brooklyn, New York.

[6:39] “If you own, then you’re property has appreciated. If you rent, your rent has gone sky high. Some people who were here for 20 or 30 years have sour grapes because they rent and they resent the prosperity they see in other people coming in,” said Grant Taylor, a long time home owner in Clinton Hill.

That resentment comes from a belief that poor people are being forced out of neighborhoods by the newcomers. Rising rents and property values make it difficult for some families to stick around according to Valery Jean, Executive Director of Families United for Racial and Economic Equality, or FUREE.

[4:31] “It puts families in like this weird space. So not only are families being displaced but it’s also saying in a sense that the city doesn’t value you as a human being based on your color. So in a way it has translated into what we feel is economic segregation,” said Jean.

Read the full post on CNN's Soundwaves blog 

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Filed under: Economy • History • How we live • Where we live
July 25th, 2012
10:51 AM ET

Sherman Hemsley: A tribute to the great George Jefferson, and more

By Ken Tucker, EW.com

(EW.com) - Sherman Hemsley, the man who brought George Jefferson to vivid life, has died at age 74. The accomplished stage actor achieved his widest fame in a role he raised to comic greatness: George Jefferson, the egotistical, strutting centerpiece of The Jeffersons.

Hemsley took a part that could have been clownish and exaggerated — George Jefferson, the braying entrepeneur striving to, as the show’s theme song said, “move on up”  — and made George a vital, three-dimensional character, and an important advance in the depiction of black characters in sitcoms. George’s ego and selfishness were often brought into line by his wife, Isabel Sanford’s Louise Jefferson (George’s beloved “Weezy”), but the force of the character derived from the tremendous ambition, frustration, and anger George felt toward the world.

You can credit producer Norman Lear for helping to conceive the character, first in All in the Family and then as a spin-off in The Jeffersons, but it was clearly Hemsley’s performance that fueled its power. Hemsley had come up through the theater, in straight dramas as well as musicals (he came to George Jefferson initially fresh from a run in the raucous, Ossie Davis-derived Broadway musical Purlie), and Jefferson brought a rhythmic musicality in the way George moved onscreen. His erect posture conveyed George’s pride, his perpetually affronted expression was a mask against the injustices, correctly perceived or imagined, by George; his harsh voice was the sound of a man who would not be denied his place in the world. Watching George Jefferson was to witness a man comfortable in his own skin — and that that skin was black was significant. From Hemsley’s performance, you could build an entire philosophy of the man he played. As a black man of his generation, George was as likely to have taken his civil rights cues from Malcolm X as from Martin Luther King, Jr. And while his business acumen placed him squarely in the capitalist tradition, George was a Black Panther-inspired figure of action, emboldened to make his opinions heard, his actions felt in the world around him. FULL POST

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'Jeffersons' star Sherman Hemsley dies at 74
Sherman Hemsley, who played the brash George Jefferson on "All in the Family" and "The Jeffersons," died Tuesday at 74.
July 24th, 2012
11:21 PM ET

'Jeffersons' star Sherman Hemsley dies at 74

By the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) - Sherman Hemsley, who played the brash George Jefferson on "All in the Family" and "The Jeffersons," died Tuesday at 74, his booking agent said.

Hemsley played Jefferson, a wisecracking owner of a dry cleaning business, on "All In the Family" from 1973 until 1975, when the spinoff "The Jeffersons" began an 11-season run on CBS.

Police in El Paso, Texas, where Hemsley lived, said there was no evidence of foul play. The cause of death will be determined through an autopsy, according to a news release.

For the first few years on "All in the Family," George Jefferson was not seen, only referred to by his wife, Louise, played by the late Isabel Sanford.

He told Archive of American Television in 2003 that he was told by the show's producers that Jefferson should be "pompous and feisty."

Jefferson was every bit as big a bigot as his neighbor, Archie Bunker, played by Carroll O'Connor. Jefferson often referred to white people as "honkies."

He was also mean and condescending to his neighbors, his son Lionel and, when he moved to a ritzy apartment on Manhattan's East Side, to his maid. But his character was still wildly popular with TV audiences.

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Filed under: Black in America • History • How we live • Pop culture
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