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The amendment that changed the world

A year after women won full voting rights, these women joined in the St. Patrick's Day Parade on Fifth Avenue on March 27, 1921 (Credit: New York Times/Paul Thompson via commons.wikimedia.org) On August 26, 1920, the 19th Amendment took effect in the United States.  The amendment was passed by Congress on June 4, 1919, and submitted to the states for ratification.  On August 18, 1920, Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the amendment, creating the two-thirds majority needed.  Eight days later it went into effect.

Its text is simple: "The right of the citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.  Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation."  However, the process that led to its adoption was both complex and inspiring.

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Topless dancers picket a church: 3 thoughts

Jesus Said Love volunteers pose for a photo with care packages for dancers outside a San Antonio night club (Credit: Jesus Said Love via Instagram) In the 14 years I've been writing the Cultural Commentary, I've never seen a story like this one: strippers and church members are picketing each other.

New Beginnings Ministries in Warsaw, Ohio has been campaigning against the Foxhole North gentleman's club for nearly a decade, picketing on weekends and taking photos of guests' license plates.  According to the pastor, "I take very seriously the responsibility as a pastor to see to it that the gospel of Christ is lifted up, that Christ himself is lifted up, and that evil is confronted."

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American beheaded by Islamic State: how to respond

A masked Islamic State militant holding a knife speaks next to man purported to be U.S. journalist James Foley at an unknown location in this still image from an undated video posted on a social media website. (Credit: Reuters via Reuters TV)James Foley was a teacher in Phoenix who later taught reading and writing to inmates in Chicago.  He chose to pursue a journalism career and embedded with American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.  In 2012 he began reporting on the civil war in Syria.  In November 2012 he disappeared.

Now his story is global news after a video was published on Tuesday showing an Islamic State jihadist beheading him.  President Obama was right: "Jim was taken from us in an act of violence that shocks the conscience of the entire world."  His mother explained why her son went to Syria: "He had incredible heart, and he always cared about people who were suffering."

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Palestinians give tear gas advice to Ferguson protesters

A protester dons a gas mask on West Florissant near Ferguson, Missouri August 18, 2014 (Credit: Reuters/Lucas Jackson) Turmoil in Ferguson, Missouri continues today in the aftermath of the August 9 shooting of Michael Brown.  U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder visited the town yesterday, as a grand jury considers whether to indict Officer Darren Wilson.  One version of the tragedy is that Officer Wilson was attacked and shot in self-defense.  The other is that the shooting was unprovoked and that Ferguson police discriminate against black citizens.

Clearly, many in Ferguson believe the latter.  Street protests in the days after the shooting turned violent; at least 20 police cars have been damaged and stores have been looted.  Reportedly, some protesters have shouted, "Kill the police."  However, marchers have also accused police of using disproportionate force in responding to mostly peaceful crowds, and claim they helped protect stores from looting.

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Have you taken the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge?

Bill Gates accepts Mark Zuckerberg’s ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and nominates Elon Musk, Ryan Seacrest and Chris Anderson from TED to participate and raise awareness for ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease (Credit: Bill Gates via Youtube)Unless you're just returning to Earth, you've heard about the Ice Bucket Challenge.  The concept is simple: either donate $100 to charity, or douse yourself with ice, film it, and pass the challenge to others via social media.  Bill Gates, Taylor Swift, politicians and athletes have all taken the challenge.  The ALS Association, which raises funds to support research for Lou Gehrig's Disease, has used it to raise more than $22.9 million since July 29.

Unfortunately, not everyone taking the challenge makes its charitable purpose clear.  Some seem to be doing it just to be doing it.

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