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After the announcement of American Alan Gross being released from a Cuban prison, President Obama announces an end to an approach he says "for decades has failed" U.S. interests.
June 12th, 2014
03:38 PM ET

5 Epic lip synching videos that won the web

By now, you've probably seen this incredible version of Celine Dion's "All By Myself"  recorded by a guy stuck (alone) in the Las Vegas airport. But it's not the first time someone won the Internet by lip synching.

Here are our five favorites.

"I Want It That Way" -- Backstreet Boys (2005)

Using a low quality web cam in their dorm room, the Back Dorm Boys, a Chinese duo, recorded this version of the Backstreet Boys classic.

 

"I Want It That Way" – Backstreet Boys (2009)

A different take on the same song, five office dwellers (and one stick-in-the-mud) show us just how fun work can be.

 

"I Gotta Feeling" - Black Eyed Peas (2009)

In 2009, schools began challenging other schools to lip dub contests. This version of the Black Eyed Peas party classic – performed by dozens of students, all over the school – went viral almost immediately.

 

"You Make My Dreams" - Hall & Oates (2009)

Different school. Different song. Same awesome result. And they did it in reverse.

 

"You Bring Me Joy" - Anita Baker (2009); "Can't Tell Me Nothing" - Kanye West (2009); "Not About Love" (2009) - Fiona Apple

Whether he's covering Baker, Kanye or Fiona Apple, Zach Galifianakis' music videos are always fresh, funny and memorable.

What do you think of our choices? Any great ones we missed? Which song would you do? Which song do you think Erin Burnett should try? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Filed under: Entertainment • Music • OffBeat • OutFront Extra • OutFront Staff
American couple stuck in Ukraine after adopting four orphans: "I could see the glow of fire"
Jenkins family
February 25th, 2014
06:44 PM ET

American couple stuck in Ukraine after adopting four orphans: "I could see the glow of fire"

(CNN) - Trapped. That's how Don and Lisa Jenkins of Topeka, Kansas are feeling as they hunker down in an apartment in the Ukraine. They are trying to adopt four children amid a revolution - and it hasn't been easy. Their biggest challenge? Getting government records and the sign-offs they need in a country that is essentially without a government. Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has fled the country and interim officials say a new government will not be put in place before Thursday.

So Don and Lisa Jenkins wait.

The American couple first visited Kiev around the time the protests started, in November, to jumpstart the adoption process. After picking up the children from an orphanage in a small Ukrainian village earlier this month, they arrived in Kiev for a second time to sort out the remaining paperwork. What they didn't know is the situation on the streets was about to take a turn for the worse.

Diplomatic gears moving as new Ukrainian government takes shape

For a week, the Jenkins family has been on the frontline, holed up in an apartment a half-mile from Kiev's Independence Square. This is where the most violent clashes occurred last week - where buildings and people were lit on fire, hostages were taken, limbs and lives were lost. All they had to do was look out of their window to see just how close to the violence they were.

"If I looked out the bedroom window, I could see the glow of fire,” says Don Jenkins. “At that point, we're scared to death. That one morning, like at 4 o'clock, it really got out of control and they started throwing firebombs in the buildings."

There have been many anxious moments. One day, his wife Lisa and the girls were going out, and as they stepped out of the apartment building, they were met with as many as 75 protesters. “The kids ran back in,” says Jenkins. “At that point, we’re just going to stay in.” His wife came back up and filmed the protesters going by from the window.

“This is supposed to be a very happy time in their life,” says Jenkins. “All they wanted was a family. So we’ve been celebrating the whole way, and then we come up to Kiev and on the first day we’re here, we can’t go outside in fear of our lives because we don’t know if the protesters are going to expand. We were told they were attacking government buildings, but all the buildings are pretty dilapidated and it’s hard to tell a government building from a regular building. We're trying not to look frightened in front of the kids because we don't want them to be worried.”

But they are worried. One child asked Lisa, "Does this mean we're not going to America?"

The children have already been through a lot. Two girls had two previous adoptions fall through. “Even when we told them we were going to adopt them, there was still a lot of doubt,” Jenkins says.

'We were trapped': Eyewitness to the massacre in Kiev

They are also adopting an 8-year-old boy named Roman. He has microcephaly, a rare neurological condition in which a child's head is significantly smaller than normal for his age. Before landing at the orphanage, authorities found Roman living in deplorable conditions. "At the age of 5, he was living in a dog house," Jenkins says. “Everything he ate, he dug up out of the ground himself. He’d never been taught to eat off of a plate. Never bathed himself. The parents would be gone all day and when they would come home they would give him a smoked pig’s ear to chew on. That was his meat for the day.”

Since being at the orphanage, Roman had greatly improved - so they were conflicted about adopting him and interrupting his progress. “Our thought was, is it really wise to pull him out and take him to a country where he’s going to have to learn a new language,” Jenkins says. “We prayed about it, and we asked for a sign. We wanted God to let us know what the decision should be.” During a second visit to see Roman, they hadn’t gotten the sign they were looking for – until Don was saying his goodbyes. “I got down on my knees because he’s so tiny,” he says. “Someone said, ‘give papa a hug’ and he ran to me and leapt into my arms and would not let me go. I lost my composure, my wife’s crying, the teachers are crying, the kids are crying. I thought, ‘this one’s coming home with us because there’s no way I’m telling him no after this.’”

The Jenkinses may be saviors to these children, but in Kiev, they feel helpless as parents. “Here we’re taking these kids into our family and I don’t feel we can adequately protect them,” Jenkins says. For a couple of days, all they had to eat was the junk food they’d had in a knapsack: potato chips, chocolate, and soda. To pass the time, the kids would play on their iPhones. Now that the situation has eased, the family can venture out to the supermarket, and they even took the kids to the mall to give them a reprieve from feeling like they are under siege. When they go out, they let the children gab in Ukrainian so that they fit in.

Alabama couple journeys into Ukraine's bloody riots - to adopt four orphans

The family is slowly making progress with the Ukrainian government. They have two passports for two children and are hoping to get the remaining two this week. Back home in Kansas, they have two grown sons waiting for their return. They’ve missed two months of work at Burlington Northern Railroad and are not getting paid. Don is already using up his last vacation days for 2014. “We’re here spending money to sit in a room and do nothing,” Jenkins says. “We’ve been putting things on credit cards... but you know, I would do it all over again. These kids are priceless.”

When the Jenkinses finally do get back to Kansas, the first thing they’re going to do is have Christmas for the kids. “We left the tree up,” says Jenkins.

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Filed under: International • OutFront Extra
Bard Prison Initiative
February 18th, 2014
12:49 PM ET

College-in-prison grad: 'You can have swagger and be a mathematician'

By Katie McLaughlin, CNN

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced this weekend his state will launch a college-education program for prisoners at 10 facilities.

The program will offer both associate and bachelor's degrees by bringing college professors to the prisons from educational associations that provide accredited programs. Cuomo hopes it will reduce recidivism rates and the overall size of the prison population.

The program is based on an existing one - called Bard Prison Initiative - which provides college education and a Bard College degree to incarcerated individuals at six prisons in New York State.

CNN's Katie McLaughlin attended Bard Prison Initiative's graduation to file the following report.
_______________________________________________________________

A man who spent 17 years behind bars on a manslaughter conviction is back in prison. But not for the reasons you might expect.

Anthony Cardenales traveled to Eastern Correctional Facility in Napanoch, New York to attend Bard Prison Initiative’s 10th graduation ceremony. The program allows incarcerated men and women to obtain degrees from Bard College.

Anthony Cardenales is a graduate.

In 2003, when Bard arrived at the medium-security Woodbourne Correctional Facility in Woodbourne, New York, Cardenales had already been incarcerated for more than a decade and had completed every educational program available at the prison. Knowing that the job prospects for an ex-con were dismal at best, he wanted to make himself as marketable as possible upon his release.

The application process required Cardenales to deliver an essay response to a piece of literature. BPI is highly-selective and only admits about 15 students for every 100 applications received.

Cardenales believes it was his ambition and passion for learning that helped him secure a spot in the program.

“I’ve always been a driven person, I was just driven in the wrong direction,” Cardenales told CNN. Once accepted, “I put all my efforts into getting that degree,” he said.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Education • OutFront Extra
December 25th, 2013
11:00 AM ET

17 signs the Pope is a Time Lord

He’s on the cover of TIME and loves the Lord. But is he a Time Lord?

Headline

1. He travels in a box…

pope.01

2. …with a companion…

pope.02

3. …who sometimes gets into trouble.

pope.03

4. He likes hats…

pope.04

5. …long scarves…

pope.05

6. …robes and sceptres.

pope.06

7. He carries a special book with him.

pope.07

8. And is known to make speeches in front of Romans.

pope.08

9. He occasionally uses the name John.

pope.09

10. He's fond of art...

pope.10

11. …and football.

pope.11

12. Christmas is always special.

pope.12

13. He's friendly with princes…

pope.13

14. …and presidents.

pope.14

15. Angels.

pope.15

16. It's a big deal when there are two of him.

pope.16

17. And there’s always a new one ready to go.

pope.17

“The Time of the Doctor” airs tonight at 9pm ET on BBC America.

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Filed under: OutFront Extra • OutFront Staff • Pope Francis • Religion
Romance writer Megan Mulry takes a risk on self-publishing
November 27th, 2013
08:53 PM ET

Romance writer Megan Mulry takes a risk on self-publishing

This Friday when romance writer Megan Mulry officially releases her latest book entitled "In Love Again," she will be taking a risk. Mulry’s previous two books in her fictional “Unruly Royals” series were published by Sourcebooks , and landed her on the USA TODAY Bestseller list. But for book number three, Mulry decided to self-publish.

“I had a wonderful three-book deal with Sourcebooks, with a one-book option clause," Mulry tells OutFront. But Mulry says her new protagonist didn't fit into the Sourcebooks vision for the series of high-flying British royals and the Americans who love them. The star of her new novel is pushing forty, a departure from her traditionally twenty-something characters that catered to a younger audience. “After my editor, Deb Werksman, and I talked about the option clause," she says, "we both agreed it might be an opportunity for me to self-publish.”
FULL POST

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