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FILE - In this May 8, 2010 file photo, a tattoo on the back of U.S. Army Sgt. James Wilkes of Rochester, N.Y., is seen through his torn shirt after a foot patrol with 1st Platoon, Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, of the 5th Styker...

In foreign policy debate, politics the likely victor

10/22/12 08:53PM

In a many ways it's fitting that Melissa Harris-Perry began Sunday's show, on the eve of the presidential debate on foreign policy, with a brief obituary to the late George McGovern, who died earlier that morning at the age of 90. In the 24 hours since his death, McGovern, the erstwhile Democratic presidential candidate and South Dakota Senator known for his brutal honesty and opposition to warmongering, has been reintroduced to a new generation of Americans not so much as the man who lost in a landslide to Richard Nixon in 1972, but as a breed of Democrat quickly becoming extinct. read more

Graduating students listen to U.S. President Barack Obama speak at the University of Michigan commencement ceremony in Ann Arbor, Michigan in this May 1, 2010 file photograph (Photo: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)

In education-reform debate, where are the specifics?

10/22/12 04:47PM

Education is the last issue you would expect to hear at Monday night's final presidential debate, but it's an important topic that has yet to really be discussed over the course of the campaign. Both President Obama and Mitt Romney penned op-eds last Friday for Time about their views on higher education. The President wrote about his record so far when it comes to education reform, and Governor Romney wrote about the need to provide better opportunities for children without bankrupting the country. read more

A sign along the highway near Grand Isle, La., on July 11, 2010, lays out the problem many struggling fishing families now face: With their fishing grounds closed by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, they are forced to find something other than...

An open letter to President Obama, before the last debate

10/20/12 01:11PM

I watched Tuesday's' debate in my own living room. And I'll be honest, I took a moment to stand on my couch and give our nation's leader a well-deserved round of applause for a job well done at the second presidential debate. But I thought I would go one step further and put pen to paper for our commander-in-chief. Dear President Obama, It's me ... Melissa. I just wrote to say thanks. Thank you for bringing your A-game on Tuesday. read more

Father Michael Lapsley with Bishop Desmond Tutu (Ret.) last month in Cape Town, South Africa.

Meet Father Michael Lapsley, 'Foot Soldier'

10/20/12 12:11PM

The "Foot Soldier" for Melissa Harris-Perry this week is Father Michael Lapsley, an Anglican priest and social-justice activist who serves in South Africa. As a young man, he was called to the priesthood, but was not particularly political. Then he found himself in the maelstrom of South Africa's apartheid, serving as a chaplain for the African National Congress. Losing both of his hands and the use of one of his eyes to a letter bomb did not deter Father Lapsley from continuing his work, including here in America. I spoke to him about that earlier this week. read more

Virginia Health Commissioner Karen Remley resigned Thursday (Photo: AP/Bob Brown)

Va. health commissioner resigns over abortion clinic restrictions

10/19/12 02:13PM

Virginia's health commissioner resigned from her post on Thursday, citing the state's GOP-fueled regulations on abortion clinics as the reason for her departure. Dr. Karen Remley abruptly ended her five years of service as commissioner, illuminating the national political battle over women's reproductive health within Republican-led state legislatures. In an email to stakeholders obtained by NBC News’ local affiliate, Remley directly attributes her departure to the harsh regulations on abortion clinics adopted by the commonwealth. Remley writes:
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Romney's marriage pitch shortchanges parents, the safety net

10/18/12 06:47PM

In response to a question about banning assault weapons, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney shared this piece of information with the rest of the country during Tuesday night's debate: "If there’s a two parent family, the prospect of living in poverty goes down dramatically." That may seem rather obvious, particularly if both parents are working. But Romney also offered this "secret": "The opportunities that the child will -- will be able to achieve increase dramatically." This rings true because money too often buys better schools, better programs, and more opportunities. read more


Why a 'binder full of women' isn't a bad thing

10/17/12 04:47PM

You have  to move quickly on the Internet, especially during social-media's top political event of all time. Tuesday's debate will hold that title for likely about another three weeks, when Election Day likely breaks Twitter. But last night, when Mitt Romney uttered the words "binders full of women" in his town hall debate with President Obama, it came off as just the kind of absurd neologism that inspires laughter, ridicule, and hastily constructed Tumblr blogs. So within minutes-- and I'm not kidding, minutes-- of Romney's utterance, came into being. read more

George Takei is one of several LGBT celebrities endorsing President Obama in a new campaign ad

LGBT celebrities endorse Obama in new ad

10/17/12 01:48PM

A number of LGBT celebrities are endorsing President Obama in a new ad released Tuesday by the Obama campaign. Among the bold-faced names are Jane Lynch, Zachary Quinto, Wanda Sykes, and George Takei. The five-minute ad highlights the progress made during Obama's first term for LGBT rights, such as the 2009 signing of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the 2011 repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and his statement in favor of marriage equality. read more


Florida isn't expecting as much from its black and Hispanic students

10/16/12 01:42PM

The Florida Board of Education approved new benchmarks last week that will set math and reading standards for its K-12 students based on race and ethnicity. The Sun Sentinel reports that the state's new plan sets different targets for students according to their heritages: "By 2018, the state wants 90 percent of Asian students, 88 percent of white, 81 percent of Hispanics and 74 percent of blacks to be at or above reading grade level." Opponents of the state's plan argue that the practice of setting different goals based on race is "insulting and feeds racial stereotypes." read more

Ryan Andresen was recently denied his Eagle Scout award because of his sexuality (Photo: courtesy of the Andresen family)

Denied Eagle Scout badge, gay teen receives support

10/15/12 04:04PM

Ryan Andresen, a gay Californian teen, was denied an Eagle Scout badge earlier this month despite having completed every task necessary to achieve the award. Now, a fellow Eagle Scout across the country is planning to send him his badge in a show of solidarity. Dr. Andy Zerbinopoulos of Jacksonville, Fla., told First Coast News that he planned to send Andresen his Eagle Scout award. "If I can make him feel like he has some support out there, it's worth it to me to send him a piece of ," he said. Zerbinopoulos has held his medal since 1996. read more

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Meet Aesha Rasheed, our Foot Soldier (part 2)

10/14/12 06:27PM

You'll find below the second half of my interview with education activist Aesha Rasheed, whose parents' guide has become an invaluable tool for New Orleans families caught in the maelstrom of the ever-growing crop of charter schools. I asked our Foot Soldier about the guide midway through our conversation last week. LR: All right, so -- the Parents' Guide. Did you come up with this? read more

New Orleans education activist Aesha Rasheed.

Meet Aesha Rasheed, Foot Soldier (Part 2)

10/14/12 05:27PM

You'll find below the second half of my interview with education activist Aesha Rasheed, whose parents' guide has become an invaluable tool for New Orleans families caught in the maelstrom of the ever-growing crop of charter schools. I asked our Foot Soldier about the guide midway through our conversation last week.LR: All right, so -- the Parents' Guide. read more