August 14, 2011

Mountaintop Mining Documentary on CNN August 14

The battle over mountaintop mining for coal has mostly been fought in the U.S. Appalachian region to date, but the issues resonate throughout Indian Country: people fighting for the integrity of their environment and their community members’ health. And the battle over whether or not it’s ok to reduce a mountain to rubble in the name of coal and jobs is being fought everywhere, in some form or another.

In the CNN special, Battle for Blair Mountain: Working in America, which airs tonight at 8 p.m. eastern time, Soledad O’Brien interviewed people on all sides of the debate, focusing on Spruce Mine No. 1, a longstanding subject of controversy. She told the Huffington Post that it was “an eye-opening experience” and sees the town as “a microscopic representation of the economic and environmental tension that exists all over the country, especially in coal mining states.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency revoked the mine’s water permits last January, citing conflict with the Clean Water Act. The move sparked protests all the way to Washington, and now researchers at West Virginia University (WVU) are studying watersheds in southern coalfields to gauge the ecological effects on mountaintop mining.

See CNN’s preview of Battle for Blair Mountain.

Read more @ Indian Country Today Media Network.comPoll: Sonoma County Residents Against Advisory Role for Graton Rancheria - Indian Country Today Media Network.com.

January 10, 2012

One Man Aims to Translate the Web Into Every Major Language

Luis von Ahn Duolingo Language Learning 270x132 One Man Aims to Translate the Web Into Every Major Language

Luis von Ahn is the founder and former CEO of ReCAPTCHA, Inc., and an associate professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University.

How is one man going to get 100 million people to translate the web into every major language for free? According to his January 8 post on CNN.com he is giving them something in return.

Luis von Ahn, the founder and former CEO of ReCAPTCHA, Inc., and an associate professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University, recently introduced the world to his newest project—Duolingo, where web users can “learn a language for free, and simultaneously translate the Web.”

But let’s back up a bit; what is CAPTCHA? It’s when you have to type randomly selected characters into a box to access a site. As von Ahn explains in the video below it’s so the computer knows you’re a human, not another computer trying to submit the form millions of times.

What about ReCAPTCHA? This is the concept von Ahn came up with after realizing that 200 million CAPTCHAs are typed every day, and wondering if that time could be put to good use.

CAPTCHA Example 270x183 One Man Aims to Translate the Web Into Every Major Language

An example of a one-word CAPTCHA

On some sites now, when you see a CAPTCHA there are actually two words: one of them is a word to prove you’re human and the other is a word that a computer translation program had trouble understanding when it scanned it from a book. So, web users are helping digitize books on a number of popular sites including Facebook, twitter and ticketmaster.

Von Ahn took this another step when he asked one of his graduate students how he could get 100 million people translating the web for free. Because more than five million of us have spent more than $500 for language learning software, we want to learn.

This is where Duolingo comes in. Users are “learning by doing,” von Ahn says in the video. The site gives beginners simple sentences in whatever language they want to learn, and as the user translates them they learn what the words mean and are subsequently given more advanced phrases to translate.

“The crazy thing about this method is it actually, really works,” he says. “People really can learn a language with it and they learn it about as well as the leading language software.”

Another benefit he says, is it’s “way more interesting” because people are “learning with real content.” It’s working for him, on his twitter page on December 21 he posted: “I learned Pronouns: Possessive Accusative in German! http://duolingo.com via @duolingo.”

Not only will Duolingo help people learn a new language for free, it also provides a fair business model for language education because, as von Ahn points out, right now the student pays. That’s unfair to the poor since about 95 percent of the world’s population can’t afford it.

“Since people are creating value while they are learning they don’t have to pay with their money, they pay with their time,” he says in the video. “The magical thing here is that they are paying with their time but that is time they would have spent anyway learning the language.”

But could von Ahn’s research have any affect on revitalizing Native American languages? ICTMN has contacted him about the possibility of translating the web into languages such as Navajo and Cherokee to find out.

Read Luis von Ahn’s full opinion piece on CNN.com and visit his new site, Duolingo.com to sign up.

See Luis von Ahn’s introduction of Duolingo here:

Click here to view the embedded video.

Read more @ Indian Country Today Media Network.comAPTN's Rez Drama Blackstone Returns - ICTMN.com.

January 19, 2012

CNN Special ‘Narco Wars’ Focuses on Central America as the Murder Capital of the World

Mexico may be known for it’s drug trafficking and cartels, but in Central America there are countries known for their murder rates. Welcome to the most violent region on earth according to an October article at CNN.com.

Specifically, Honduras which is the current murder capital of the world according to a graph by The Washington Post.

On January 22, CNN will be airing a special report titled “Narco Wars,” that was filmed on the streets of Honduras and Guatemala, two countries that have a higher per-capita murder rate than Mexico in 2010, along with El Salvador, Belize and Panama – All Central America countries.

The special report focuses on these two countries because they have become the cocaine corridor for the United States where the majority of murders are connected to drugs and go unsolved.

The special will be premiering at 8 p.m. on CNN Presents.

Read more @ Indian Country Today Media Network.comState Department Reports Little Economic Benefit to Rejected Keystone XL Pipeline - ICTMN.com.

February 24, 2012

Addressing the Major Disconnect On Border Issues

In a column by LZ Granderson at CNN.com, the issue of securing the border is addressed in an interesting angle.

The column ran just in time for the Arizona debates, a state with a vested interest in border issues and that has implemented HB 1070-the immigration law.

Granderson addresses how the GOP candidates would address the issue during the debate on February 21 while pointing out the major differences between the United States border with Mexico and the border with Canada.

Read the full column here.

Read more @ Indian Country Today Media Network.comAboriginal Leaders Agree With TRC, Want Action - ICTMN.com.

March 10, 2012

An Open Letter to CNN and Anderson Cooper

CNN Editorial Board:

Anderson Cooper’s 2/21/2012 story regarding an Oklahoma Cherokee, Iraq veteran father who stopped a would-be adoption of his daughter was an example of poor and dangerous journalism. It was poor quality for its lack of fact checking and dangerous because it puts innocent children and families at risk. We demand that CNN give time for the truth to be told in hopes that the potential damage done by Mr. Cooper’s careless and cavalier reporting can be mitigated.

A closer examination of the facts in this case, had Mr. Cooper chosen to adhere to the ethics of his profession, would have revealed that questionable practices by some parties, not the laws or the father, are the culprit. The case has many layers, including the father’s rights, laws protecting parents serving in our armed forces, state adoption laws, and American Indian law. CNN has jumped to conclusions without regard to the facts, and worse yet, fabricated a biased opinion based on questionable claims of one side rather than present a balanced news story.

The court decision to unite the father and daughter are consistent with both Oklahoma and South Carolina state laws on adoption. It involves law that protects military personnel defending our country. Nonetheless, there have been numerous attempts in the media to criticize the relevant federal law, the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA)—a law that was enacted to stop the abuses that often occur in placements of American Indian children which requires that adoptive placements are done in an open and clear manner. If one accepts CNN’s reporting of this case, two obvious violations of the Indian Child Welfare Act occurred before the child was even two weeks old, yet were completely ignored by their legal expert. Instead of covering any of the real issues, Mr. Cooper and CNN’s legal expert chose to attack a loving father and ICWA.

We believe the court decisions in this case will clearly identify the missteps and violations that occurred and that this adoption attempt was unlawful. This incident is a perfect example of why adherence to and enforcement of existing adoption laws is critical. When those that facilitate adoptions ignore the law, they put children and families at high risk.

We have all heard about the outcomes of the questionable practices in this case in the media; there is no doubt that they are agonizing. No family should ever have to go through this kind of experience. If private adoption agencies and attorneys adhere to the law, illegal adoption attempts and the trauma inflicted on children, biological families, and adoptive families will no longer be perpetuated.

CNN’s coverage of this story appears to support—and even advocate for—breaking state and federal laws. We believe this is a breach of professional journalism ethics and that Mr. Cooper should apologize and set the record straight.

National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA); North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC);National Congress of American Indians (NCAI); Child Welfare League of America (CWLA)

The National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) is the most comprehensive source of information on American Indian child welfare and the only national Indian organization focused specifically on the tribal capacity to prevent child abuse and neglect through training, research, public policy, grassroots community development, and compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978.

Founded by adoptive parents in 1974, the North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC) helps reform systems, alter viewpoints, and change lives through advocacy, education, adoption support, and leadership development in the United States and Canada.

The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), founded in 1944 in response to termination and assimilation policies that the United States forced upon tribal governments in contradiction to their treaty rights and status as sovereigns, works to inform the public and Congress on the governmental rights of American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) is a powerful coalition of hundreds of private and public agencies serving vulnerable children and families by advancing policies, best practices, and collaborative strategies that result in better outcomes.

Read more @ Indian Country Today Media Network.comGrimes Holds Silent Auction to Benefit Sisters in Spirit in NYC - ICTMN.com.

October 4, 2012

Obama Follows Presidential Debate With Speech at University of Wisconsin at Madison

In an effort to redeem himself after what many considered a loss at last night’s debates, President Barack Obama gave a spirited speech at the University of Wisconsin at Madison today.

According to CNN, 58 percent thought Republican candidate Mitt Romney was stronger during the first presidential debate, held October 3 at the University of Denver in Colorado.

In the typically Republican state of Wisconsin, Obama is currently leading 51.4 to 43.8, reports RealClearPolitics.com.

The beginning of Obama’s speech was a lot of rebuttal to things Romney said during the debate including repeatedly referring to him as “the guy on stage last night.”

He spoke about the economy and how it “grows from the middle out” meaning from the middle class, so if taxes for the middle class are cut they spend more money, leading to businesses hiring more people.

Obama discussed renewable energy and wanting to control more of this countries energy including wind and solar power as well as improving the gas mileage of vehicles and wanting to cut oil imports by 2020.

He also talked about education and said “education is the only reason I’m standing on this stage.”

He, of course, addressed Romney’s reference to cutting funding public television and made a joke saying “Thank goodness somebody is finally getting tough on Big Bird, it’s about time. We didn’t know that Big Bird was driving the federal deficit. But that’s what we heard last night,” Then when someone in the crowd yelled “Elmo,” he replied, “Elmo too? Elmo’s gotta watch out.”

Read more @ Indian Country Today Media Network.comObama Follows Presidential Debate With Speech at University of Wisconsin at Madison - ICTMN.com.

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