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Homecoming queen Scarlett Lenh puts transgender issues front and center

transgender homecoming queenAt Sand Creek High School in Colorado Springs, Colo., over the weekend, Scarlett Lenh was named homecoming queen – no doubt a high point in the 16-year old’s life so far.

What makes the event newsworthy is that until recently Scarlett was known as Andy Lenh, a biological boy who identifies as a girl.

Transgender issues now touch virtually all aspects of American society – public and higher education, news media and entertainment, politics, and the armed forces.


Django Unchained actor alleges racial bias after being held by LA police

Daniele Wattsn actor who starred in the Oscar-winning movie Django Unchained has claimed she was handcuffed and detained by police officers in Los Angeles who assumed she was a prostitute, because she was kissing her white partner in his car.

Daniele Watts, who is black and who played the slave CoCo in Quentin Tarantino’s acclaimed 2012 film, said she was “humiliated” by the incident, which she said occurred in the Studio City neighbourhood on Thursday.


Etsy bans sale of items with Redskins name, imagery

Redskin sales bannedEtsy, the online marketplace for all things cutesy and handmade, announced this week it's banning the sale of all items depicting the Washington Redskins name or logo, calling them "disparaging" to Native Americans.

A blog post on the Etsy website by policy team manager Bonnie Broeren said the move was inspired by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office decision in June to cancel six trademarks held by the NFL team.


Toyota recalling more than 130,000 trucks because of air bag issues

Tundra truckToyota recalled 130,000 Tundra CrewMax cab and Double Cab trucks.

Toyota said the trucks may be equipped with a "center pillar garnish." That's a plastic panel on the interior. If it's installed wrong, it could keep a side panel airbag from opening or functioning properly.

According to the company, they are not aware of any crashes, injuries or deaths caused by the problem.


The Nation's Biggest Abortion Battle Is Playing Out in Tennessee

Abortion battle tennesseeThe most contentious political battle raging in Tennessee this year has nothing to do with control of the US Senate or the governor's mansion—it's taking place over a ballot measure that would make Tennessee the next hot zone in the war over abortion rights.

The referendum, called Amendment 1, would amend Tennessee's constitution to read: "Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion," including for pregnancies "resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother." If the amendment succeeds, it would allow state lawmakers to pass the kinds of draconian abortion restrictions seen in neighboring states. And pro- and anti-abortion rights groups are raising millions to swing the outcome.


NRA Hosts "Killer Cop" Competition Amid National Outcry Over Police Violence

NPSCIn previous years the National Rifle Association's (NRA) National Police Shooting Competition (NPSC) included events with names like "Head Shots Only," in which the event's course description contends that police officers need to practice shooting directly at people's heads.

Courses like this are only one of the many reasons why, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, activists and family members of police shootings victims call the annual NPSC the "killer cop contest."


Pennsylvania challenged over execution drugs secrecy in federal court

Lethal drugsThe secrecy imposed on the identity of the compounding pharmacy that supplied lethal drugs to Pennsylvania for use in executions is challenged on Thursday in an emergency legal motion lodged with a federal court.

The ACLU of Pennsylvania has asked judge Yvette Kane of the US district court in Harrisburg to unseal a set of legal documents that contain hidden details about the source of the state’s lethal injection drugs. In tune with many other death penalty states, Pennsylvania has shrouded its execution procedure in secrecy in the hope of keeping supply routes to the medicines open in the face of a tight international boycott led by the European Commission.


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