Archive for the ‘liberal bias’ Category

A Time For Thanks?

November 28, 2009

Written By: Kelly Opdycke
(Editor,
KO Zine)

This Thanksgiving may be one of the toughest for many of us. Some may not be able to afford to travel the distance to see their family. Others may not even have the money to recreate the traditional Thanksgiving dinner enjoyed year after year. Without the family or food of the holiday, some would say this holiday is nothing. Here’s something for you to think about, even if you have very little.

According to the History Channel, Thanksgiving was traditionally created following a particularly rough winter that killed many Pilgrims. After forming an alliance with some local American Indians, the Pilgrims were able to rack up enough food for the upcoming winter. Thanksgiving was a three-day feast to celebrate what they believed would be a less harsh winter.

You knew this already, right? Well, after being asked if Thanksgiving was an American holiday last week, thought I should do a little recap. Canada actually celebrates Thanksgiving, but it’s separate date with a whole different history.

While thankfulness is an important factor of this holiday, another aspect should be considered in the world of politics. The American Indians, native to what would become the United States, were willing to help their new neighbors, despite the fact that they had come from some unknown place. Today, many immigrants are simply pushed aside, left to do the jobs that many of us find menial.

When will this country finally start treating all immigrants with respect? Not just those who excel in math and science. – In June, President Barack Obama promised his commitment to “comprehensive immigration reform.”

He plans to “clarify the status of millions who are here illegally.” He believes those who wish to become citizens would be required to pay a penalty, learn English and go to the end of the line behind those who came here legally.

The president has asked Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), Chairman of the Senate Immigration Subcommittee, to develop immigration reform legislation that was said to be announced this fail. Some of the 7 main points he plans to include are an employer verification system, a path to citizenship for those already in the country and better control of the borders.

All of this sounds great, but will it ever happen? I know, health care must be first and the government also must deal with growing unemployment, global warming, the list is never ending.

Those of us lucky enough to have Thanksgiving dinner this year probably have so many different dishes to prepare. We have to cook everything at once, getting as close to perfection as possible.

The government has the same problem, only they’re dealing with millions of lives. Tackling each issue takes patience and debate. If immigration must be put on the back burner, I hope it’s not forgotten.

More Info:
CBS News
New York Times
Senator Schumer Government Wensite
History Channel

Hollywood Non-Profit Helps Troubled Youth

November 18, 2009

Written By: David Carr
Photos By: Michael Kass

My Friend’s Place: A non-profit finds, help, hope and a home for troubled youth in Hollywood.

The homeless situation in Los Angeles is still a pervasive issue. Many organizations along with community representatives and volunteers have tried to make a dent into this on going problem. One organization making a difference is My Friend’s Place. My Friend’s Place has created a comprehensive approach to dealing with homeless youth in Hollywood by providing shelter, a safe environment and in some instances a pathway to education and a better life. Michael Kass is the Director of Development at My Friend’s Place and he sat down with me to talk about the organization and how they are tackling this crisis.

David Carr: How long has My Friend’s Place been in operation and how long have you worked there?

Michael Kass: MFP was founded in 1988 and I have worked here for 2.5 years.

DC: At this point in time how many youth would you say are currently being helped at My Friends Place?

MK: We see nearly 2,000 youth per year. They access services ranging from basic needs (food, clothing, showers, etc.) to educational opportunities, health education, and clinical case management.

DC: What is the percentage of homeless youth in Hollywood right now?

MK: There are approximately 11,000 homeless youth in Los Angeles County. I’m not sure what the exact count for Hollywood is, but I can tell you that our area is one of the few in which the number of homeless youth is increasing. Hollywood has always been a magnet for homeless youth and the current economic conditions have not changed that.

DC: In your opinion what is the main catalyst that puts kids on the streets? Is it broken homes? Drug abuse? Teenage runaways?

MK: It runs the gamut, David. We are seeing an increasing number of youth who have aged out of the foster care system–they hit age 18 and are expelled from the system, often without the skills or resources to live independently. A significant percentage of the youth we see are escaping from mentally or physically abusive homes and/or families. As the economic crisis has gone on, we have seen more and more youth whose families simply cannot afford to care for them right now. Sometimes the entire family is living in a shelter and the youth just need a place to go to be safe during the day.

DC: Is there anyway to breakdown percentage what kind of situations these kids are coming out of?

MK: A needs assessment conducted last year by The California Endowment and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles revealed that 57% of the youth at MFP were victims of childhood physical abuse, 75% have been involved with the criminal justice system in some form, and nearly one third are dealing with depression and/or bipolar disorder.

DC: How does My Friends Place help these youth?

MK: The idea of building trust and strong relationships is at the core of all MFP programs. Our model is low-barrier–any homeless youth between the ages of 12 and 25 (and their children) is welcome into our space as long as they are able to maintain our safe haven. Our mission is to assist and inspire homeless youth to build self-sufficient lives. Within this broad framework, we offer services in three general areas:

1. Basic Needs: Food, clothing, showers, hygiene products, communication, referrals to outside services, etc… Often, a young person on the streets has not eaten for days. Extreme hunger can make it impossible to focus on anything other than getting food. By meeting these most basic of needs, MFP makes it possible for a youth to begin focusing on longer-term plans.

2. Transformative Education: This includes workshops ranging from employment skills, resume preparation, and GED preparation to Creative Arts (theater, circus arts, creative writing, and visual arts). The creative arts programs function as a mental health intervention–young people achieve breakthroughs in writing or even circus arts that would not be possible in a more traditional mental health setting.

3. Health and Well-Being: Includes health education (OD prevention, STI prevention, emotional well-being, violence prevention, etc.) and clinical case management.

In addition to services our staff provides, we have partnerships with over 70 organizations that allow us to offer services such as basic onsite primary medical care, mental health therapy, and legal services.

DC: I know as a development director your primary job is to raise money but do you ever get involved with the program side of the organization?

MK: I do get involved with some creative arts programs when time allows. I’ve facilitated the theater workshop a few times, facilitated a film festival jury (a group of young people served as the “Youth Jury” for the environmentally focused Jules Verne Film Festival), and have worked to expand our Circus Arts program

DC: How can people get involved with your organization? What can folks do to do help?

MK: We have tons of volunteer opportunities, and we are always looking for in-kind donations and people can donate online to help support our services. A complete rundown of volunteer opportunities can be found here: http://www.myfriendsplace.org/howtovolunteer.html

DC: Michael thanks for taking the time to chat with me about what’s going on at My Friend’s Place.

MK: Not a problem David.

For more information on how to get involved with My Friend’s Place log on to www.myfriendsplace.org.

Non-Profit Gives Young People A Way to Cope With Pain

November 17, 2009

To Write Love On Her Arms: A New Non-Profit Gives Young People A Way to Cope With Pain

Written By: David Carr

The World Health Organization estimates that 121 million people suffer from depression and 18 million of these cases are happening in the US. Another report claims that 2/3 of those suffering from depression never seek treatment and instead tend to self medicate with drugs, alcohol or cutting. A non-profit organization based in Florida is trying slowly but surely to reverse those numbers and they are using popular social networks to talk with young people openly, and honestly about their issues. To Write Love On Her Arms is a non-profit, based in Orlando, Florida, dedicated to creating a safe space for young people to talk about their issues. The organization’s staff and interns are able to refer troubled youth to professionals who can get them the treatment they need. Jamie Tworkowski is the founder of TWLOHA and he sat down with me for a lengthy discussion about his organization.

David Carr: Jamie, what prompted you to start this type of non-profit and how long has the organization been up and running?

Jamie Tworkowski: We have been operating for three years. The organization grew out of me trying to help a close friend. My friend Rene was really suffering from depression. She had tried to commit suicide. She had actually cut herself and carved “fuck up” on her arm. When we tried to get her into a hospital, the fact that she had ingested drugs meant that she actually had to wait five days before they could see her. I was with her for the five days, and while I was with her, I used things like My Space, Facebook and Twitter to reach out to people for help.

I knew that she could not afford treatment so I asked for donations. People started responding and helping; folks started to donate money but then other people started e-mailing about their issues with depression…other folks needed someone to talk to. It just seemed to grow from there. While my friends and I helped Rene we started helping other people in need.

DC: How big is your organization now?

JT: We have ten people on staff, and six interns. So far we have answered over 100,000 e-mails from people who needed to talk to someone and we have spoken to youth from over 100 different countries.

DC: Walk me through exactly what you do? Is your staff mostly talking to high school-age kids?

JT: Our message is a simple one. We basically set up a safe place either on My Space, Facebook, and/or Twitter, or over the phone for folks to talk to us and to share their story about dealing with their specific issue. Our goal is to meet them wherever they are and get them to the next step in their recovery. We are not the solution. Our role, after getting them to open up to us, is to get them to open up to a friend or counselor in their community. The age range of who we serve is pretty diverse. We end up talking to a lot of high school age kids, college kids, some adults…we have parents who talk to us about their kids. It’s a unique mix.

DC: What would you say is the number one issue many of the kids who reach out to you are facing?

JT: It’s depression. I mean, they just need ways to cope with different forms of depression. They get hooked on drugs or alcohol or they end up cutting themselves because they cannot figure out another way to deal with depression. The kids we work with don’t know how to cope with their pain.

DC: On average how many e-mails would you say you get a day from kids?

JT: We get anywhere from 500 to 1000 e-mails per week. We are also sending our staff to college campuses and interacting with young people face to face now.

DC: I know you had a booth at the Warped Tour this past year. How has music played a role in what you do?

JT: Two out of the five days I spent with Rene were at shows. Music was a huge part of her life. It was the only thing at the time, she felt connected to. When I reached out for help a few musicians responded. Young people feel a serious connection to the music and bands they are into, so I knew music had to be a part of this. We have been on the Warped Tour three times and Kevin (Lyman) and his people make it very easy for non-profits to set up and go on tour and reach out to young people.

DC: Are folks mainly stopping by during the tour to give a donation or do you have kids coming by to talk?

JT: All of the above. Some folks buy a T-Shirt, others want to really know what we are about but we do have kids at the shows who really want to have a serious conversation about what is going on with them. Sometimes they come to the booth in order to feel safe. They see it as a comfortable, safe place to be.

DC: How can people get involved and support the work you are doing?

JT: They can get on the website. They can donate money or just buy a shirt. We are working with a couple of great organizations right now to expand the kind of help we provide. We will be doing more peer to peer/face to face interactions with folks real soon. If folks are serious about helping us out all they have to do is hit the website.

DC: We started our conversation with you telling me about how helping your friend Rene was the catalyst that got you involved in creating this organization. How is Rene doing now?

JT: I’m happy to say that Rene has had three years of sobriety. Like any other person who has an addiction, she is taking each day as a challenge to stay sober. Some days have been better than others, but she’s in a better place now, and she’s in treatment getting the help she needs.

DC: Jamie thank you for chatting with me and good luck with all of the great work you’re doing.

JT: Thanks, David.

If you are someone you know is suffering from depression, log on to http://www.twloha.com/index.php and get the help you or your friend needs.

Health Care Reform Passed?

November 15, 2009

Written By: Kelly Opdycke
(Editor, KO Zine)

The House has finally passed a health care bill. Everyone in America can now jump for joy at this remarkable victory. But with one particularly big issue compromised and the dooms day that’s to come when the Senate tries to pass a similar version, I’m not sure the time has come for celebration.

Before I bring everyone down, let’s start with the positive: Democrats won a major victory with the inclusion of a public option in the bill. This will make health insurance accessible for those who aren’t covered by their employer and simply can’t afford it by allowing a government option at a much lower cost.

While this sounds great, one amendment that was attached to the bill stands out as a huge problem for those of us pro-choicers. The Stupak amendment prevents federal funding for any woman seeking an abortion. Now it’s nothing new for the government to refuse funds for an abortion except in the cases of rape, incest or harm to the mother (see the Hyde amendment), but this amendment is still the first of its kind. It also prevents abortion coverage for certain small businesses and families who qualify to receive a government subsidized insurance plan through private insurance agencies.

According to Mother Jones, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that 18 million will utilize government subsidies to acquire health care for their family by 2019. Women may purchase their own abortion coverage, but like so many say, “Who really plans for an unplanned pregnancy?”

Pro-choice Senate Democrats have threatened to block any plan that includes this amendment.
On Nov. 9, President Barack Obama responded to critics by saying, “This is a health care bill, not an abortion bill.”

Next on my agenda is one specific opponent of this health care bill: Joe Lieberman. While I believe dissent is always a good thing, I think Lieberman deserves a good kick in the ass. Just because you label yourself an ‘independent,’ doesn’t mean you can ruin this moment for your former party.

So you want to filibuster the bill? Interesting, because in many other cases you have been an opponent of the filibuster, even for bills you did not support. You actually think this issue is worth standing up there and reading out of the phone book (or whatever) for who knows how long, more than say a high-tech fence to protect our borders (something you gave a nay, but it ultimately passed because you didn’t agree with wasting the Senate’s time).

Lieberman, you may not remember this, but last year you almost lost your committee chairmanship because you supported Sen. John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential candidate. Because of the newly-elected president’s wish that you would not be punished, you were allowed to keep your position of power in the Senate.

President Obama choose to do this because he wants government to be more bipartisan. Politicians like you, who seem to be unwilling to compromise, prevent this bipartisanship dream from coming true. Mr. Independent, its time for you to start compromising.

Overall, this bill still has a long way to go in the Senate. All I know is I have a lot of friends who haven’t been to the doctor in years, including myself. I’m not happy with the abortion compromise and I hope it’s eventually killed in the Senate. But, unlike Lieberman, I’m willing to compromise a little for the greater good.

More Info:
Mother Jones
Huffington Post
CNN

Issues of Diversity on a Volatile School Campus Part II

November 13, 2009

A First Year Teacher in the World of Difference and Same (Part 2)

Written By: David Carr
Photo By: Colin Bootman

View Part I here.

So there I was and there we were, those sixty pairs of eyes staring at me, wondering what would come next. As I turned to the chalk board sweat starting to work its way on my brow, I started to write down a list of questions on the board. I turned to the sixty students and said in a commanding voice, “I need everyone to take out a sheet of paper, a pencil or pen and write these questions down right now.” These were not tough questions by any stretch of the imagination. “What is your name, where do you live, do you live in a house or an apartment, when is your birthday?” These were the questions I had the students write down.

“What do we do after we write these down?”

Good question, I thought to myself but before I even knew it, I had the answer. I told the class that the Spanish I kids were going to have to ask my Hispanic students these questions in the best Spanish they could muster. My kids, the ESL kids were going to have to try and answer the questions in English. “When you are finished, I stated you will simply switch. My students will ask the questions in English and the Spanish I kids will answer back in Spanish.”

“What will happen when we finish?” another student asked. “Don’t worry; I replied there will be more questions.” A funny and somewhat peculiar thing happened after I gave the directions. The students actually did what I said!! I almost fell over. At that time in my short career lesson plans were still tough for me to write but I had mastered the art of sounding like I meant business no matter what! I watched as the students asked each other the questions. I listened as the students stumbled through the answers and I looked on as the students tried to help each other with the assignment. This was truly the first time I had seen a large group of African American and Latino students working together on the campus. Even in classes where the two groups were mixed they often sat apart from each other and never interacted.

It was an anomaly to see the two groups now forced to work with each other. They finished the assignment by the time the class was over. They repeated the same assignment on Tuesday and I came up with new questions as I promised. By Wednesday the students were coming up with their own questions and I had become a non-entity in the room and to top it off, the kids seemed to be having fun.

The following week the Spanish I teacher was back at school. She was a bit perturbed at me for not having executed her lesson but she seemed interested in what had gone on in my class, because her students remarked that they had, had a good time with my kids. As fourth period began in my room my students seemed to lack focus. Finally one of my students asked, “Mr. Carr where are the students?” “Which students I asked?” “You know Mr. Carr los…los…los Africano Americanos, where are the friends?” This was the first time I had heard one of the immigrant students try to find a word other than ‘mayate’ to describe the Black students on the campus.

Now it seemed they had built some type of relationship with these students. However fleeting the relationship was they had no choice but to try and refer to the Black students with some sense of humanity and dignity. I suspect the same thing was happening in the Spanish I class. The Black kids had learned that not every Latino child on our campus was Mexican and that all they really had to do was ask and they would find out where some of the kids were from. At that moment I realized something about the champions of diversity and multicultural education.

These “do-gooders” often want to get kids of various ethnicities together to do one of two things. Either they have the kids talk about their differences to no end or they have the kids dialog on what it means to be “oppressed.” The former in my mind is a mute point. The kids know they are different. They can see the differences as plain as day! The latter again in my humble still makes no sense. The kids know they are different and depending on where they live they know that their communities have been hard hit. They live it everyday.

What these folks never have kids do is get them to talk about what they actually have in common! How about that for a novel idea? Now my kids did not do that at all in that fourth period class, what they had to do was work together in order to finish an assignment. They had an assignment and they knew (or at the very least they believed) they had no choice and they needed to finish it. The only way that was going to happen was for them to work together.

I am not naïve enough to think that in one week you can solve racial issues on a high school campus or in a community. The problems that existed in my school and community still went on after that week. But what I do know is that if multi-ethnic communities are going to thrive and not just survive then we have to do more than just talk about our differences. We will have to find the ties that bind, find common ground and then work together to get things done.

I often look back on that week as the moment when I finally became a teacher. Kids were working together, checking each other’s work, correcting each other while I merely looked on and coached. That was the week I learned of possibilities. It was the week I started to feel like a teacher and it was a week in which both teacher and student discovered hope…

Afghanistan: Crime and Corruption With Our Tax Dollars

November 11, 2009

Written By: Sara Ledesma

Our colossal, on-going military and financial expenditure in Afghanistan was intended to yield democracy and stability. Despite throwing exorbitant financial and military resources down the bottomless ditch we call “the war on terror,” Afghanistan is no more stable than when we sent our first brave soldiers and wrote our first blank check. Why, with all the military might and formidable financial wherewithal of the number one superpower in the world, have we yet to make any progress toward the goals of stability and ‘democracy?’ Military resources are exhausted to the point of endangering national security, spending is so out of control we are bankrupting our national reserves and we are losing our mothers, fathers, sons and daughters in escalating numbers. Yet, we are still no closer to declaring our goals met and ending the massive hemorrhaging of our national treasury and our soldiers’ blood.

Since billions of our tax dollars are funding this epic fiasco, we have a right, and a patriotic duty, to ask what return we are receiving on our tragic investment. Violence levels mock our goal of stability. The recent sham of an election in Afghanistan is a glaring indicator we have failed miserably to institute any semblance of ‘democracy.’ By taking a closer look at our military strategy in Afghanistan, we can discern why we have yet to make a single step toward progress despite years of appalling waste.

Afghanistan is run by two brothers, both of whom enjoy unwavering U.S. military, political and financial support. Hamid Karzai is the official president of the country and controls the political state. His brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai is a tribal warlord who controls Southern Afghanistan with a mafia-like, iron fist. Reports from our own CIA, narcotics officials and military personnel describe a history of government collusion with Wali Karzai, including eight years of pay-offs from the CIA. Our government agencies pay Wali for such services as: intelligence, the orchestration of meetings with insurgent groups we want to convert to our side, and the renting of his properties to house U.S. military.

Despite the existence of long-held knowledge that Wali Karzai is involved in the 3 billion-dollar- a-year Opium trade, U.S. tax revenue is used to protect and enrich Wali. In addition to being a known heroin trafficker (the illegal drug made from Afghanistan’s Opium), allegations against the leader of the southern half of Afghanistan include: orchestrating mass election fraud to keep his brother illegitimately in power and playing both sides of the fence with U.S. and insurgent forces. Wali takes money from our CIA and military, then turns around and accepts bribes from Taliban smuggling their heroin through his territories. No doubt he then allows them to pass back through those same routes to smuggle weapons paid for with profits from that heroin. Wali Karzai uses his control of the bridges and pathways in Southern Afghanistan to profit off the heroin dealers who must pay to transport their contraband through the territory he rules. He has used his control of areas such as the Khyber Pass (to Pakistan) to create great wealth off those who traffic in contraband.

Wali Karzai has used the military crackdown on the heroin business in Afghanistan to increase his own influence and power. When our narcotics agents make an arrest of an Afghani drug trader, Wali himself steps in to fill the void, thus increasing his own share of the multi-billion dollar drug trade. Is it any wonder that with all the resources we are dedicating to stamping out the opium trade in Afghanistan, it still amounts to 15% of the nation’s GDP?
The drug trade is so entrenched in Afghanistan politics, the Obama administration recently pressured President Karzai to purge those with drug ties from his government and depose hi s brother from Southern Afghanistan. Not surprisingly, President Karzai has yet to do either. In fact, Ahmed Karzai’s running mate in the recent election, Mohammed Fahim, is a former warlord accused of drug trafficking.

Advocates of our current Afghanistan policy argue no one in Afghanistan is untainted by the drug trade or corruption. They claim it is a country run on an informal, back-channel system of survival of the fittest. From local police demanding bribes, to high-level political corruption and election fixing, conspiring with thugs and warlords is routine and customary. Everyone in Afghanistan is somehow compromised. Two cunning brothers, colluding to play our government for a fool and profiting by any means available—legal or illegal—are the perfect poster boys for politics in Afghanistan.

We partake in a corrupt system, reinforce it with our resources and complicity, and then have the audacity to wonder why we make no progress toward a legitimate, stable government in Afghanistan? If we participate in a soiled, perverted system, we cannot expect results that are free from taint and perversion. We say we are committed to destroying the lucrative drug trade which funds the death of our soldiers and undermines every goal we have in Afghanistan. Yet, Wali Karzai takes advantage of our hard work by capitalizing on any advances we make in prosecuting drug leaders, to enhance his own status as a drug king pin. Wali’s grip on the South (stronghold and sanctuary of Taliban forces) means anyone who passes through does so with his consent—which of course comes with the prerequisite kickback. Who is to stop him when he has the backing of the U.S. military and Drug Enforcement, as well as the political immunity granted him by his brother, the President of the country?

We are palling around with drug lords and corrupt politicians who care nothing for democracy, make a mockery of free elections and democratic principles and only value wealth and power. Our government is being manipulated by a pair of thuggish brothers who take our money, extol the virtues of democracy and diplomacy, then turn their backs and spit on everything democracy stands for. They engage in such widespread corruption, with well-known drug leaders and thugs, that there is no chance to earn the legitimacy that political and social stability requires.

In Other Words…the problem in Afghanistan is crime and corruption pay, and they pay with our tax dollars.

Viral Marketing: A Social Media Experience

November 10, 2009

Written By: Khadeeja Coonrod

Ever heard of anything such as word of mouth? Ever heard of Viral Marketing? Welcome to Viral Marketing, a marketing technique that uses social networks to increase brand awareness by word of mouth delivery or network effects of the internet. Viral promotions come in the forms of: E-books, images, text messaging, video clips, brandable software, advergames, and interactive Flash games.

In the 1990’s the producers of Mystery Science Theatre realized that their best marketers were the show’s few but faithful audience and so they encouraged the show’s viewers to videotape their copyrighted shows and pass on to friends. This was the beginning of a new way for word of mouth to spread.

Flashforward to 2002, three years before YouTube, BMW reported that over 11 million viewers tuned in to watch The Hire, a series of eight short films made specifically for the internet starring Clive Owen. 2 million of those viewers registered to the BMW website and within four years, the videos were viewed over 100 million times.

The proof now exists that viral marketing is a good technique. YouTube acquainted viral marketing to social media. Now we have more tools than we know what to do with: YouTube, Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, PayPal, Flickr, Ning, and the list goes on.

Let me give an example of how I’ve seen viral marketing do way better now than personal face to face contact has. I was working with an owner to promote his club and he wanted a street team to put promotional flyers for his club on cars parked around the club area. Do you want to know what everyone did? Most got to their cars and took it off, made sure it’s not a parking ticket, and then threw it on the ground. Many of them looked annoyed or angry that there was some paper on their car in the first place only promoting yet another club that may or may not last. The street team I was working with kept saying, “This would be easier if the owner used Facebook or Myspace to send out club invitations and there, people can look at more information and see who’s attending the events held.”

Friendly faces aren’t enough these days. People want to see results. People want to make sure someone they know will be there, they want to discuss details. They want to know through the web. The internet is the place to do that since it uses marketing tools to help promote their companies from online contests to online banner ads.

Blogging is another huge tool in social interaction. One of the first ways people will openly discuss something they saw or experienced that they liked or didn’t like is to blog about it. Once it’s out in the open, you get a reaction. Someone will either agree with you or disagree with you but now you have a list full of comments by readers or fans who are adding in their two cents worth. This is an effort in contribution.

To make viral marketing work, you must be able to build a solid relationship and how’s that done? Communication, communication, communication. It’s all about what the consumer wants. It’s all about what’s being mentioned by everyone. The consumer gets the last word. But just because someone tells you to buy a certain laptop doesn’t mean you’re going to go out and purchase it. You want the one that goes with you. You may not even want a laptop, you may want a PC or; you may not even know what you want. It could turn out that you may need to talk to someone who can assist you in trying to figure out what you need, what you don’t want, and try to then know exactly what works best for you. It’s about listening and paying attention to what websites are being used, what isn’t going well for people, and what could be improved.

Viral marketing is about catering to the crowd and influencing what’s in demand for the masses.

Issues of Diversity on a Volatile School Campus

November 9, 2009

A First Year Teacher in the World of Difference and Same (Part I): Dealing with REAL Issues of Diversity on a Volatile School Campus

Written By: David Carr Photo By: Barbara Penoyar

I can remember it like it was yesterday. There I was, a first year teacher at Compton High. I was idealistic, young, a bit naive and in over my head. It was the month of October and September had seemed like the longest month of my life. I was teaching English as a Second Language at the beginning, intermediate and advanced levels. The woman who taught Spanish was going to be gone for an entire week and she had asked me if I could take her 4th period class into my classroom while she was gone. She had a lesson plan and work for the students to do. It seemed like a slam dunk.

All of my students were recent Latino immigrants. All of her Spanish students were African American. Back in the early 90’s the demographics of places like South Central, Watts, and Inglewood had seen a huge shift. During the 80’s these aforementioned places were 90-95% African American. By 1993 these areas were now 50% Black and 50% Latino. With the shift in demographics came racial tension. The tension on the street with the gangs was fierce. The tension also manifested itself politically. These areas were now half Latino but were being governed by a virtually all African American political elite. At times, the Black political establishment found itself at odds with its new found community members.

Compton had seen the biggest shift out of all of the neighborhoods. Compton was now 60% Latino and our high school reflected that demographic in terms of the student’s population. The tension on school campuses was also an issue that needed to be dealt with. There were many fights and full-scale riots at big inner city high schools. I had found myself in the middle of two of them on my campus. All of these issues swirled in my head as I told the Spanish I teacher I would take all of her kids in my class for a week during my fourth period.

The following week, as I began the drive to Compton High, I started thinking to myself about the fact that on this Monday, my fourth period my classroom would have 30 Latino kids and 30 African American students in it. My students usually just kept to themselves on campus. On the campus the racial divide was thick. The Black kids played basketball at lunch. The Latinos played handball. The sports teams were not racially mixed at all. Unless they were forced to do so, you rarely saw any interaction between the Black and Latino students. The racial divide in my mind was a huge issue that someone had to deal with at the school and in the community.

As I pulled on to the campus I decided that my fourth period would be the place where change would begin. I didn’t care about what the Spanish I teacher’s lesson was. I simply threw it away and as soon as her kids came into my class I was going to be the one to bring these two factions together! So I threw her lesson away and as I taught periods 1-3 I feverishly tried to figure out what I was going to do with these two groups of kids once they hit my room. I knew I wanted to do something, but I didn’t have a clue as to what that “something” would be. As the first break after third period ended, I began to sweat. At that point, I was wishing I didn’t throw away that lesson plan!

As the bell rang, my students walked in and took their seats. I was given the typical greeting I had quickly become accustomed to in both English and Spanish (Hola Mr. Carr, hi Mr. Mr. Carro…my favorite was que onda Meeeester.) My kids took out their notebooks and started copying down their first assignment. “Maybe I lucked out and the Spanish I kids won’t show,” I thought to myself. No such luck.

All thirty of the Spanish I students arrived. I quickly tried to seat them throughout the room next to my students. As I did this you could hear the racially volatile questions coming out of the mouths of both groups of students. “Damn, why are their so many Mesakins in this class? How come you don’t teach any Black kids?!!?” It seemed, that for the African American students, if you spoke Spanish, you were Mexican. At times they were just not aware of the diversity within the Latino community in the neighborhood.

“Hay porque los mayates esta en este classe?” I had heard some of the Latinos use this word to describe the Black students on campus. The literal translation of the word “mayate” is a small disgusting black bug. I learned quickly that this word was the Spanish equivalent of the word ‘nigger.’ The students passed these phrases between each other with the greatest of ease on campus and now they were doing it in my classroom. After I situated the students I went to the front of the classroom. You could cut the tension in the room with a knife. The thirty pairs of eyes I usually had staring at me were now sixty pairs of eyes, all wondering what we were going to do. They all seemed to be wondering what would come next. Interestingly enough, I was also wondering what we were going to do and what would come next…

Piracy, The Future Money Maker?

November 7, 2009

Written By: Khadeeja Coonrod
Photo Credit: Michael Cogliantry

**Editor’s Note: Before you read this article, read “Why Selling Records is Like Picking Up Women, and How The Big 4 Failed

Illegal file sharing may turn out to be the next big sale. DigiRights Solutions (DRS) from Damstadt, Germany is passing around a presentation to future possible clients offering plans for how they might make more money by overtaking illegal file sharing instead of regular, legal sales. The interesting part about all of this is the fact that DigiRights Solutions is an anti-piracy body.

There’s a mysterious number to the DRS strategy: one figure would ask for 25 per cent of people who get a letter, warning of legal action, if they prefer to pay the settlement fee without question. So that would be up to 150 times what a legal download brings in.

DRS says presently it can go after 5,000 illegal downloaders a month so their approach comes from the amount of legal sales compared to the amount of threatening letters DRS can send out for a client.

The plan is simple, DRS is going to force money out of lawbreakers by encouraging illegal music to be downloaded. The idea is simply genius.

If Shawn Fanning, the creator of Napster heard about this, I would be curious in what he had to say since Napster was one of the biggest popular peer-to-peer file distribution systems and was different from previous networks since it focused exclusively in music in the form of MP3 files. Napster also provided a wider selection of music that could be downloaded and copies of older songs, unreleased recordings, and bootleg recordings from concerts could be shared through Napster. After a few lawsuits which the first done by Metallica due to a leak of their demo and later the company had another lawsuite this time coming from Dr. Dre after he had sent a letter asking his works to be removed and then it not being done. Napster later shut itself down in July 2001 and declared itself bankrupt in 2002. It started June 1999 and paved the way for major filesharing companies such as Limewire and I-Tunes which are major names in filesharing providers along with Kazaa, Imeem, and Pandora; to name a few.

DRS is thinking forward and one’s thing’s for sure, it’s paying close attention to what’s happening in the technology industry and how to gain more money.

FCC Net Neutrality Doesn’t Go Over Well

November 5, 2009

Written By: Khadeeja Coonrod

It seemed like a brilliant plan to the FCC (Federal Communications Commissions) when FCC chairman Julius Genachowski announced in September 2009 his plans to develop formal rules prohibiting internet providers from selectively blocking or slowing Web content and applications. Then 44 companies sent a letter to the FCC saying new regulations could make the process of the development of the Internet more difficult.

The letter stated; “Until now, the innovators who are building the Internet and creating the advancements in telemedicine, education and the vast array of other online products and services have done so in an environment driven by competition and innovation. We believe government’s role in the Internet should be to support investment, jobs and new technologies, especially if they increase the opportunity for all Americans to connect online. Public policy should encourage more investment to expand access to the Internet, whether it is access through a cell phone, a laptop, a PC or any new device that we have yet to imagine. If the FCC takes a prescriptive approach to new regulations, then it could place itself in the position of being the final arbiter of what products and services will be allowed on the Internet.” The letter was signed by Cisco Sytems, Alcatel-Lucent, Corning, Erricsson, Motorola, and Nokia.

The companies believe the new rules could prohibit broadband providers from offering advanced and well-managed networks. The day before these companies sent in their letter, a group of 18 Repulican U.S. senators also sent in a letter also raising concerns about net neutrality regulations. “Broadband is growing while other segments of the U.S. economy are struggling, and there have been only a couple of examples of broadband providers blocking or slowing Web content,” told the letter spearheaded by a Kansas Rebublican senator, Sam Brownback.

The net neutrality backers say new rules are necessary to protect the open nature of the Internet. “The FCC in 2005 relaxed rules requiring network providers to share their networks with competitors and without a net neutrality rule, powerful, large broadband providers could shut out Web sites or applications,” net neutrality advocates say.

“Net neutrality rules would protect innovators and small businesses that want equal access to broadband networks from large companies that can enter into deals with network providers,” said Art Brodsky, communications director for Public Knowledge, a digital rights advocacy group. “Broadband providers and others opposed to net neutrality are engaged in a coordinated effort to stop the FCC effort in its tracks. Arguments that net neutrality rules will stop telecom investments in networks are nonsense and insulting. All some industries do is threaten and bully. It’s like they’re saying, ‘If we don’t get what you want, then you’re not going to get your network.’ Telecom providers operated under network neutrality-like rules for more than 70 years and investment continued. Telecom providers and their allies have all the resources, Democrats and Republicans, that they’ve traditionally called upon, and it will obviously be incumbent on those of us who want a free and open and nondiscriminatory Internet to make the case.”

The consumers should have the biggest say on what is blocked or can be viewed on their computers. The FCC should make sure nothing too manipulative is happening behind the scenes but the end result should be that everyday people should be able to have a say on what’s blocked or isn’t blocked just like they have a right to get an anti-virus protector for their computer. Competition between companies do create more jobs.

If huge companies and Government lawmakers don’t agree with the FCC on this, then who knows what the rest of America will decide. Could it be that big corporations and lawmakers are just trying to remain powerful in the rights or will the FCC’s new Net Neutrality rule really be problematic until of a problem solver? Only time will tell.