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12-year-old tackles 'gross' problem
Friends of Kelsey Hirsch, 12, think talking about sexual violence is "gross." But the tween activist is undeterred.
June 21st, 2013
03:16 PM ET

12-year-old tackles 'gross' problem

By Emma Lacey-Bordeaux, CNN

Follow on Twitter: @CNNEmma

Editor's Note: Listen to the full story in our player above, and join the conversation in our comments section below.

Kelsey Hirsch was 11 years old when her parents sat her down and told her about a scandal gripping their beloved alma mater. Charles Hirsch and his wife graduated from Penn State University and like many alumni, they felt a strong connection to the place. So when allegations surfaced that coach Jerry Sandusky abused boys in his care, the Hirsch's knew they'd need to explain the story to their children.

[1:25] "We made the decision as parents that it was important that our children knew first hand what was going on versus hearing it from their friends and kind of getting misinformation."

They explained what happened and how to spot red flags in her own community, they live just outside Atlanta. Kelsey listened, and couldn't imagine why someone would harm another person that way. She wanted to help.

[0:32] "I decided to do Bands for RAINN, " she says fiddling with one such blue and white band for the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network on her own wrist.

Each band sells for $3. The proceeds help fund the RAINN online hotline, a resource for those impacted by sexual violence.

[0:50] "It helps them like feel like feel like survivors instead of victims," Kelsey says.

So far, the project has raised $18,000. That's enough to provide support to 1,800 survivors, Kathrine Hull a RAINN spokeswoman said. That's impressive for someone not yet in high school.

Hull also praises Kelsey's commitment to raise awareness. They call her frank pitch on the bracelets "a gamechanger." That's because sexual violence, though widespread, is still taboo.  That's something the pint-sized activist has run into.

[3:29] "Some people are just really horrible about it," she says. Some of her classmates, they ask her to stop talking about sexual violence entirely.  Why? "I just think that they feel uncomfortable about it. So like, they think it's gross."

But that's just the minority, she says, and she's not deterred. She's set a new goal of $100,000 which means a lot more talking. Her dad supports her the whole way.

[3:57] "I think Kelsey's right, the more you talk about it the better. It shouldn't be a taboo topic."

With each blue and white band and the sales pitch behind it they're chipping away at that taboo.

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The heart of James Gandolfini
James Gandolfini in the 2012 film, "Violet & Daisy," directed by Geoffrey Fletcher.
June 20th, 2013
01:35 PM ET

The heart of James Gandolfini

By Michael Schulder

Follow Michael at: www.wavemaker.me

Editor's Note: Listen to our full interview with director Geoffrey Fletcher, with whom Gandolfini recently worked.

(CNN) - Imagine James Gandolfini as a man who is weary of the world – resigned to the fact that his remaining days will be filled with regret and longing. And yet, despite the resignation to his unhappiness, he still has embers of his humanity burning. He is not passive. He is trying to make things right until the very end.

This is not the James Gandolfini of HBO's "The Sopranos." It is the James Gandolfini of the new movie, "Violet & Daisy," one of his last projects.

He plays a character with no name – who spends much of his time in a comfortable chair waiting to be killed. FULL POST

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Filed under: CNN Profiles • Culture • Entertainment • Profiles • Stories • Voices
Black pastors disagree over gay marriage
L. Bernard Jakes, the pastor at West Point Baptist Church in Chicago, supports gay marriage.
June 20th, 2013
01:08 PM ET

Black pastors disagree over gay marriage

By Nova Safo, CNN

Follow on Twitter: @nova_safo

Chicago, Illinois (CNN) - L. Bernard Jakes, the pastor at West Point Baptist Church, has come out in support of a gay marriage bill in the Illinois legislature. He has the support of a majority of his congregation, but not of his fellow pastors.

[2:15] “I’ve definitely been criticized. There are many that have bastardized me, said that I was going to hell on social media. There was even one radio station that encouraged their listeners to call here to the church and tell me I was going to hell.”

The Illinois senate approved a gay marriage bill in February, but it has gotten stalled in the house, where it is short of having enough votes to pass. Legislators are expected to take up the measure again in the fall, and the traditionally liberal black caucus in the state house has emerged as an important voting block.

Caucus members are facing pressure from black pastors both in favor and opposed to gay marriage, even though only two of the caucus’ legislators have so far come out in support of gay marriage.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Culture • Same-sex marriage • Soundwaves • Stories
Big banks, big pharma and now, big travel?
A child hams it up at Ankor Wat in Cambodia. The ruins attract millions of tourists every year.
June 20th, 2013
08:51 AM ET

Big banks, big pharma and now, big travel?

By Emma Lacey-Bordeaux, CNN

Follow on Twitter: @CNNEmma

Editor's Note: Listen to the full story in our player above, and join the conversation in our comments section below.

(CNN) - Elizabeth Becker's latest book was in part, born out of frustration. The seasoned journalist, who got her start as a war correspondent, began to notice a growing global economic force; a sector of the global economy changing whole societies and ecosystems but one relegated to the lifestyle section of most major papers.

So she decided to write a book about it and give it the attention it deserves:

[1:19] "My new book is Overbooked: The Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism," she says.

FULL POST

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Diplomatic trafficking: the story that won’t go away
Dema Ramos, a Filipina woman allegedly trafficked by Kuwaiti diplomat assigned to the U.N. looks at family photos.
June 19th, 2013
06:00 AM ET

Diplomatic trafficking: the story that won’t go away

By Libby Lewis, CNN

Editor's Note: Listen to the full story in our player above, and join the conversation in our comments section below.

(CNN) – The story of diplomats bringing domestic workers to the United States and treating them like slaves is not new, but it keeps coming back.

It keeps coming back because diplomats believe they have life-long immunity from prosecution – even when they break the law.

Just last month, immigration agents helped two Filipina women escape a house rented by high-ranking members of the Saudi military just outside Washington DC. The women said their Saudi employer held them captive and abused them.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Crime • International • Justice • Soundwaves • Stories
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