.
May 24th, 2013
08:12 AM ET

Boy Scouts to allow gay youths to join

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.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Age • How we live • Sexual orientation
May 23rd, 2013
01:43 PM ET

'Attractive & Fat' ad spoofs Abercrombie

By Sarah LeTrent, CNN

(CNN) - Jes Baker is cutting retailer Abercrombie & Fitch down to size.

Baker, who blogs under the name "The Militant Baker" and wears a size 22, changed the brand's A&F logo to "Attractive & Fat" in a mock, black-and-white Abercrombie ad to challenge the line's branding efforts.

The photos come as a provocative response to contentious comments Abercrombie CEO Mike Jeffries made in a 2006 Salon article about the multibillion-dollar brand's target audience.

"In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids," Jeffries said. "Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don't belong [in our clothes], and they can't belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely."

The divisive remarks resurfaced earlier this month after a series of protests went viral, from Greg Karber's video of himself giving homeless people Abercrombie clothing to a Change.org petition for larger sizes by a teenage eating disorder survivor.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: How we look • What we think • Women
Boy Scouts to vote on lifting its ban on gay youths
A member of Scouts for Equality holds an unofficial knot patch incorporating the colors of the rainbow, a symbol for gay rights.
May 23rd, 2013
08:12 AM ET

Boy Scouts to vote on lifting its ban on gay youths

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.

FULL STORY
Immigration reform clears key Senate hurdle
Members of the Senate's bipartisan "Gang of Eight".
May 22nd, 2013
08:58 AM ET

Immigration reform clears key Senate hurdle

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.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: How we live • Immigration • Politics
5 things you should know about immigration reform
Mariana Rivas urges changes in the immigration bill, protesting in front of Sen. Marco Rubio's (R-FL) office in Doral, Florida.
May 22nd, 2013
12:00 AM ET

5 things you should know about immigration reform

By Alan Silverleib, CNN Congressional Producer

Washington (CNN) - Advocates for comprehensive immigration reform won their first major legislative victory this week when the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 13-5 to approve the bipartisan "Gang of Eight" plan.

If enacted, the measure will create a 13-year path to citizenship for most of the country's 11 million undocumented immigrants.

It aims to strengthen border security while raising the cap on visas for high-skilled workers and establishing a new visa program for low-skilled workers on America's farms and elsewhere.

Immigration reform clears key Senate hurdle

Here are five key things to know about the state of play on this issue:

1) There's still a long way to go

The Judiciary Committee's 13-5 vote was significant partly because three Republicans - Arizona's Jeff Flake, South Carolina's Lindsey Graham, and Utah's Orrin Hatch - joined the panel's Democrats in backing the measure. Now, however, attention turns to the full Senate, where the level of GOP support remains an open question.

Assuming every member of the Democratic caucus backs the bill, five Republicans will be needed to ensure it receives the 60 votes needed to pass the 100-member chamber. The bill's backers have been hoping for as many as 70 votes, in order to give the proposal significant bipartisan momentum heading into the tougher GOP-controlled House.

And make no mistake - serious momentum will be needed in the House, where conservatives remain deeply skeptical about any measure offering a path to citizenship. A lot of conservatives consider that to be amnesty, which may as well be a four-letter word in this debate.

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Filed under: Immigration • Politics
Opinion: We love and fear the Oklahoma skies
This sign warned drivers to slow down for Plaza Towers school, destroyed when Monday's tornado hit Moore, Oklahoma.
May 21st, 2013
06:16 PM ET

Opinion: We love and fear the Oklahoma skies

Editor's note: Nathan Gunter is the managing editor of Oklahoma Today magazine, the state's official magazine. A graduate of Westmoore High School in Moore, Oklahoma, he holds degrees from Wake Forest University and the University of Oklahoma.

By Nathan Gunter, Special to CNN

(CNN) - Oklahomans have a special relationship with the sky. We know how to look up. On the prairies of western Oklahoma, the skies are so big, and so full, it is easy to feel you may begin to fall upward, or even fly. To live underneath this unbroken expanse of heaven can be at once inspiring and terrifying.
Every Okie has seen those skies turn scary, and every Okie accepts that atmospheric instability is a part of our legacy. In school and from our trusted local meteorologists, we learn from an early age what to look for in a sky, in a radar map and in a safe place.
Green-tinted clouds are never a good sign; a hook echo on a radar - the telltale swirl at the edge of a storm pattern indicating strong rotation - means take cover. Underground is best, in a basement or storm shelter. But a small, ground-floor room with no exterior walls will do if the tornado isn't too strong. Cover up with a mattress or thick blanket to avoid debris; don't open all the windows in the house, contrary to now discredited advice; don't hide under an overpass.

FULL STORY
May 21st, 2013
01:23 PM ET

New York slaying considered hate crime

By Chris Boyette, CNN

New York (CNN) - Police are investigating the slaying of a 32-year-old man in the Greenwich Village neighborhood early Saturday as a hate crime because the gunman made multiple anti-gay comments, they said.

It is at least the fourth violent attack in two weeks believed to be motivated by anti-gay bias, police said.

The suspect's anti-gay remarks were noted before the shooting took place, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said. The man was seen urinating on the street outside a bar before going inside and making anti-gay comments to the bartender and brandishing a silver handgun.

A little after midnight, the gunman and two other companions confronted the victim, Marc Carson, and another man he was with on the street. The suspect reportedly made anti-gay remarks and asked them whether they were "gay wrestlers," Kelly said.

Carson and the other man turned toward the taunts, but backed down and kept walking away. They didn't know it, Kelly said, but the suspect followed them.

The gunman confronted the two men again, before shooting Carson in the face, police said.

Carson was pronounced dead on arrival at Beth Israel Hospital.

FULL STORY
The Geography of U.S. Hate, Mapped Using Twitter
May 20th, 2013
12:37 PM ET

The Geography of U.S. Hate, Mapped Using Twitter

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.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Discrimination • History • How we live • Technology • Where we live
May 20th, 2013
08:34 AM ET

High school prom, 50 years later

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.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: History • How we live • Race
'Star Trek's' Zoe Saldana on racism: 'I’m not going to talk about it'
May 17th, 2013
06:31 PM ET

'Star Trek's' Zoe Saldana on racism: 'I’m not going to talk about it'

(CNN) - Zoe Saldana is one of Hollywood's leading actresses, and she's making headlines as Uhura in "Star Trek Into Darkness." She crossed barriers as the lead in "Avatar," the highest grossing movie of all time. But how does being a woman of color impact her career choices and options? The actress, who is of Puerto Rican and Dominican descent,  spoke about it in an interview with Ebony magazine's Kelley L. Carter:

EBONY: Speaking of color, it doesn’t seem to limit you. And it almost appears seamless. Is that true? Or have there been bumps along the way because you’re a woman of color?

Zoe Saldana: Nothing in life is just one layer. It’s one-layered (but) it’s multifaceted, and there are various factors that take place into making a decision or something happening. So the one thing I will say is, what has not changed is what I feel and think of myself and how I interact with the world, how I handle myself. I feel like I’m very confident. I’m going to have my moments of weakness, but I like who I am and I don’t want to be anybody else. I don’t want anybody to tell me to change when I don’t want to change.

So that’s just who I am. And when I approach something—whether I’m fighting for a role or I’m being offered a role—I’m not thinking whether or not anybody is doing me a favor or if I’m doing somebody else a favor. I’m just thinking, as an artist and as a woman, “is this something that best represents the craft that I want to be known for?” Or is this an accurate representation of what a woman is supposed to be?

And do I like this story? Do I like this director? Do I think the studio is going to manage and sell it properly. That’s where my head is at. I’m not thinking, “Oh, I’m a woman of color, are they gonna want me?” I don’t give too much energy to that, because my time is very valuable, and something that exists to others is not going to exist in my world. That’s how I think I get by, by not giving it any validation by wasting more time investing into thinking about it. FULL POST

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Filed under: Ethnicity • Pop culture • Race • Who we are
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