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WOMEN IN SPORTS
No. 32: Female referees have always officiated NBA games.
Violet Palmer broke barriers in 1997 when she became the first woman to referee an NBA game. She withstood plenty of scrutiny from her first tipoff, proving she could handle players' complaints and histrionics with professionalism. She has officiated playoff games and the 2014 All-Star Game.
In 2012, Shannon Eastin became the first woman to be an official in an NFL regular-season game when she was the line judge in a Rams-Lions matchup. Bernice Gera became the first woman to work in baseball's minor leagues in 1972 as an umpire in a New York-Penn League game. Pam Postema umpired major league spring training games in 1989 and Triple-A baseball for six seasons.
DEBATE OVER EBONICS
No. 42: "African-American vernacular English" has always been recognized as a distinct language in Oakland, California.
A school board in Oakland sparked a national debate when it suggested that black English was a separate language. Although the board later dropped the suggestion amid criticism, it set off a discussion over whether African American vernacular English, also known as Ebonics, was a language, a dialect or neither.
The board's initial resolution called for conducting some instruction in Ebonics in recognition of its students' needs and upbringing. It eventually passed an amended resolution saying African-American languages were not mere dialects of English.
Congress debated the question hotly in 1997 but the issue faded away after a few months.
AIDS DEATHS VS. HIV INFECTIONS:
No. 39: While the number of Americans living with HIV has always been going up, American deaths from AIDS have always been going down.
More than 1.1 million Americans are believed to be infected with HIV, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number is increasing, in part because medical advances are helping people live longer.
More than 650,000 have already died since the AIDS epidemic began in the U.S. in 1981. The number of deaths peaked in 1995 at 50,877, but declined the following year as multidrug therapy and other treatments became available.