Corey Dade

Although he's been a public figure for three decades, the Rev. Al Sharpton is more visible these days than ever, often in ways even he wouldn't have dreamed when he was leading protests on the streets of New York in the 1980s.

If you watched the inauguration ceremony for President Barack Obama, you probably saw the dais behind him filled with the usual lot of past presidents, members of Congress and so on. You also may have caught sight of a new, and improbable, addition: Sharpton.

The new Congress will hold its first hearing on overhauling immigration laws on Tuesday, and some pro-immigrant groups and Democrats already are grumbling that the makeup of witnesses scheduled to testify before a House panel is weighted toward conservatives who oppose citizenship for illegal immigrants and support a limited flow of newcomers.

Critics are concerned that the witness list signals that Republican lawmakers' post-election embrace of immigration reform may not materialize. None of the pro-immigrant groups is represented among the speakers.

Years of criticism and even a U.S. Supreme Court challenge couldn't force the Boy Scouts of America to admit openly gay members and leaders. But money talks, and after the defections of major donors, the 103-year-old organization is poised to lift its national ban.

Just last summer, the Boy Scouts reaffirmed the ban after a lengthy internal review. Several incidents since then have tarnished the organization's image and fueled an aggressive nationwide protest led by an Eagle Scout.

President Obama's highly anticipated speech Tuesday outlining his blueprint for an overhaul of the nation's immigration system was perhaps most notable for the big issues left unaddressed.

A bipartisan Senate plan unveiled Monday to overhaul the U.S. immigration system frames a pitched debate expected in Congress around the areas of border enforcement, a path to citizenship for those already in the country and the future flow of new arrivals.

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