From Chicago comes a somber reminder that shootings and gun deaths are a regular feature of American life -- particularly in communities of color. On Wednesday alone, a 23-year-old man was shot and killed and five others injured by gunfire in Chicago.
Sen. John Kerry, who has been nominated to serve as the nation's next Secretary of State, wasn't very successful when he tried to resolve a 2010 international incident, the Miami Herald reports. Kerry, "held a secret meeting with Cuba's foreign minister in 2010 in a failed bid to win the release of jailed USAID subcontractor Alan Gross."
And from Port au Prince, Haiti, the Miami Herald laid bare Tuesday the sad state of post-earthquake development three years after the disaster. Many families housed in crime and disease-infested tent cities after the earthquake have been moved by development officials to the capital city's slums. Promises of a renewed Haiti have not been fulfilled in these communities.
The daily number brought to us by the Pew Research Center: In 2012, about 31 percent of Americans over the age of 25 have a bachelor's degree. That's right, less than a third Americans have a college degree going into their prime earning years. Overall, situation is improving though. In 2012, for the first time ever, 33 percent of the nation's 25- to 29-year-olds had completed at least a bachelor's degree. Also, a record share of the nation's young adults ages 25 to 29 -- 90 perent -- had finished at least a high school education. Still only about 14 percent of Latinos and 20 percent of blacks have bachelor's degrees. Given which segments of the population are growing, some sort of focus on minority students seems almost essential to any plan to expand the number of Americans with college degrees.
Russia decided not to implement it's all out ban on US adoptions until 2014. But international adoptions from Central American countries such as Guatemala remain severely restricted due to concerns about fraud, child theft and the absence of protections for children and their birth parents. Let's not forget that there are also many children in need of homes here in the United States. In fact, there are so many that the federal government operates a Facebook like site that allows prospective parents to "check out" and eventually connect with kids.
Obama will use bibles belonging to Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr. during his swearing in ceremonies.
In the Miami area, Cuban-American actor and impressionist Armando Roblán died of lymphoma early Wednesday. Roblán, 81, was one of the world's best-known and apparently convincing Fidel Castro impersonators.
The storied Lenox Lounge, a Harlem night spot where the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane and Billie Holiday all performed, has entered an odd moment in its history. The club location with the history closed Dec. 31 and is expected to reopen with new owners and a facelift this year. Two blocks away, the man who owns the Lennox Lounge name will open a second club under the Lenox Lounge name.
Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln", a window on what Lincoln and other white politicians and abolitionists did to pass the 13th Amendment -- the measure outlawing slavery -- secured 12 Oscar nominations Thursday. The film has been criticized for, among other things, silencing and even ignoring the role of black activists, abolitionists and slaves and rendering Lincoln in far too simple a fashion.
Finally, bloggers debate the propriety and impact of reality shows such as TLC's "The Best Funeral Ever", The New York Times published this account of the long-time Harlem funeral disrector who coordinated end of life services for luminaries like Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Paul Robeson, Etta Jones, Coleman Hawkins, Gil Noble and Alvin Ailey. Family and friends will lay George Bernard Benta, 91, the funeral director, to rest today. His family printed 700 programs for expected mourners.