Blog : January 2011
Overheard on Readers shake salt habit »


COMMENT OF THE DAY: I believe this is yet another attack on our rights as salt-fearing Americans. Slowly but surely the government is trying to take away our right to enjoy as much salt as we please; what comes next, our right to own land?! I say we should all band together as a nation, and eat nothing but salt. Buy giant bags of salt, open it up, and pour it down your mouth. Show our 'comrades' in Washington who's really in charge!" --umbrella1


Federal dietary guidelines target salt, saturated fats


Readers shared opinions on salt use, as well as tips for reducing use. Many complained that there weren't enough options when eating out and suggested cooking your own food.


grofys noted, "Many people would be surprised what real food tastes like, sans all the salt and sugar. I'm lucky enough to have a vegetable garden and am still amazed at the distinct flavors in herbs, vegetables and fruit. Salt just tastes like salt." Euridice said, "I've been on a reduced-sodium diet for over two years now and have gotten used to it, though sometimes I have a craving for salty food. The one food I never eat anymore is Chinese" ... "when dining out. I put nutritional yeast and no-sodium Spike on popcorn, and I season vegies, poultry, eggs, and meat with pepper and a salt alternative called No Salt. I am always seeing more and more foods in the supermarket labeled low-sodium or reduced sodium."


Mjollnir wrote, "I read an article, it might have even been here at CNN, that people who love salt are supertasters. Their taste buds and working overtime and they can taste things that others cannot." This commenter is correct about the article; check out this link: Love salt? You might be a 'supertaster'


soul357 said, "When I see grocery stores having playgrounds and clowns and give toys away with vegatables or fruits in its produce section I'd say we're on to something." Gilasevi responded, "Will never happen. Right now, since the Super Bowl is around the corner, almost all major supermarkets have these elaborate setups that reach up and all around you the minute you walk in promoting sodium filled chips and alcoholic beverages, in cases, stacked... along with chips..."


Federal judge tosses out sweeping health care reform act


The discussion about health care reform was mostly spirited, and maybe a little ugly at times. Almost 1,500 comments poured into CNN's This Just In blog post before the main story posted on It is interesting to note that the comments on the story and blog post have proven to be somewhat different in tone and viewpoint. Overall, the conversation was pretty even, but increasingly began to skew toward opposing the health care plan.


Hannibal7 penned a well-liked post: "Wonderful and amazing! A judge that honestly interpreted this health care law in the context of the constituion and ruled, based on what he read in the Constitution rather than what he thought the law ought to be. Diogenes, you may put away one of your lamps. Judge Roger Vinson is the honest man." TexByers said, "This is a beautiful thing. The federal government does not have the right to mandate the purchase any product or service. They better go back to school on Obamacare. It is a half-baked law." annsrum wrote, "I feel it was irresponsible of the legislature to pass this law without addressing the constitutional issue first. When it comes to law, you can't just say, 'Well it's the right thing to do.' Judges do have some leeway for interpretation but they cannot legislate from the bench either."


Some of those in favor of the Obama plan said people are already paying for health care, but in a different way. Lebowski1776 noted in a reply to another commenter, "You WILL eventually get sick whether you mean to or not. You WILL eventually die whether you mean to or not. You WILL affect my premiums whether you mean to or not." The commenter also wrote, "Let's repeal federal military while we're at it. I'm not afraid of other countries or terrorists. Why should I have to pay for someone else being scared and unable to protect themselves?"


Federal judge says key parts of health care reform unconstitutional


Brent wrote, "Taxpayers already pay for illegal immigrants. They go to the emergency room. The bill gets passed on to tax payers. The sub-prime mortgage crisis was created from lack of government. Clinton took off regulations that made available the biggest pyramid scheme ever." kevin said, "Ironic that the older, less-healthy americans who stand to benefit the most from a mandate are the ones against it. How often do you see 20-somethings raising helk about this program? Young people are the ones who will have to buy health insurance and not need to use it. my employer and i pay $12000 in premiums, and my wife and I only use about $3,000 for medical expenses each year. We young people are the ones making this insurance system work, no different than social security, etc. (It's just the opposite with car insurance though...)."


Some discussion took place about Canada's health care system, and exactly how much people are charged for it was the subject of some debate. Someone From Canada wrote, "Canada Healthcare is one of the main reasons people live in Canada. The concerns there are more about burden and responsibility on healthcare professionals and services, but not the patients. Here in the U.S., it's the patient that gets the hit from every direction." Alan said, "There two sides to that coin. For everyone that says Canada's system is great there is someone saying it not. The fact of the matter is that the United States is a lot more diverse than Canada. No single solution is going to work for the entire country. The regulation, law, or whatever mechanism the government uses needs to be tailored to the needs of each area. This is why we have state and local governments. They should be the lead on this, not the federal government."


Dano said, "Why can't we have two health care systems in the US? One for Republicans and one for Democrats? There was a reason 'no' health care bill has passed in this country for over 40 years. If we can't have two separate health care systems, I say we repeal this one to shut everyone up and just live the rest of our lives like the idiots we are and not pass anything. The next candidate that even mentions 'health care' will not have my vote!"


Jonathan Knight: I was never in the closet


Countless readers told us were brokenhearted that Jonathan Knight would release an announcement with so many exclamation marks in it. They'd expected better from the former New Kids on the Block member. Some other commenters had things to say about the fact that he's gay, but for the most part, no one was all that surprised.


Fred broke in with an important update: "And in other news, oranges are orange in color." Another commenter, Snoopdog, had a news flash of his own: "In other late breaking, shocking news there was an escalator outage on the Washington Metro Rail today!" Or, maybe it was Deena who said it best: "I about died laughing to see this one the front page of CNN this a.m.; as a fan of these guys this is something the majority of us already knew. Jon is a great guy, and should be known more for speaking out about bullying, The Trevor Project, and the other issues he likes to help out."


But ... "Why did he use so damn many exclamation points?" asked i love. For some, it really was about the punctuation. Tmber wrote, "This! guy! uses! too! many! exclamation! points! He must be TERRIBLY excited all the time!" Perhaps, as Peter V. noted, "Nowadays everybody seems to rely on exclamation points to show happiness in what they write and not appear angry. My guess is the writer wanted to show that Jon was happy and that his words were not angry ones. Moreover, celebrity mags and websites overdose on exclamation points. Everything they communicate!!!!!! Please don't blame Jon for that."


There were a few implications that the exclamation marks were inserted into the text. But a message posted by Knight shows the marks there to begin with. ribblefizz said, "He wrote it, exclamation marks and all. Since he is not the one writing THIS article, his words (whether they were originally spoken or written) are represented in quotation marks. The exclamation marks are his, and the quotation marks indicate that. ... The only sentence of Knight's that doesn't have an exclamation point is the one where he's quoting an imaginary tabloid headline. (Which is a bit ironic...)"


YOUR TURN: Now that you've read what other people are saying, do you find that your views align with theirs? Think of this as a wishing well in need of your 2 cents. Post a comment below or sound off on video.


Compiled by the moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

Posted by:
// January 31, 2011
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Egyptians show solidarity around the world »

As anti-government protests continued throughout Egypt over the weekend, expatriates and others outside the country joined the chants for President Hosni Mubarak’s removal.


Rany Ibrahim moved to Canada from Egypt eight years ago to attend graduate school, then got a job and decided to stay. He organized a solidarity rally in Halifax, Nova Scotia, that drew about 150 people on Sunday.


“We are limited in what we can do to help the people underground in Egypt, but we can showcase the work of the people and support them,” he said.


Ibrahim has a brother in Cairo whom he was finally able to reach Sunday. “He’s saying there’s not a single police officer on the ground … Some people are trying to break into the banks. You hear this over the phone and it sounds scary.”


In conversations with CNN iReport, members of the Egyptian diaspora expressed frustration that they couldn’t do more for family and friends back home.


But one thing they could do was provide a megaphone for their cause.


"It's the least we can do while our families and other colleagues are  actually risking their lives, while we can't do much but lobby and show the world the reality behind what's happening," said Mo Elnadi, 40, a British Egyptian who joined and documented a demonstration in front of the Egyptian Embassy in London on Saturday.


Yusra Abou-Sayed, 24, attended a protest Sunday in Houston, Texas, because “as an American-Egyptian I am appalled at the atrocities happening to my fellow Egyptians who only want their freedom and are demanding their right for democracy.”


Boston University student Aly El Attal, also Egyptian, marched with other Egyptian-Americans from Harvard Square to City Hall Saturday.


"Just because we're in the United States doesn't mean we can't support them ... That's the best we can do while we're here." He said he and other Egyptians in the U.S. want President Obama to pressure Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to step down.



Impassioned demonstrators in Geneva, Switzerland, gathered in front of the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on Saturday to call for Mubarak's ouster. Arab media blogger Courtney Radsch reported that 100 to 150 people attended the protest, chanting in Arabic, French and English.


“Most of the chanting was focused on getting Mubarak out, saying the Egyptian people don't want him anymore,” Radsch said. “People felt they needed to make their voices heard."


Radsch, who is writing her dissertation on cyberactivism in Egypt, wrote on her blog that her “fingers are crossed that this time the protests will lead to substantial political change.”


More protests are scheduled throughout the world. If you’re there, share your story with CNN iReport.


-- CNN iReport’s Jordan Sarver contributed to this story.

Posted by: dsashin // January 31, 2011
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Overheard on Wounds of racial tension remain »


COMMENT OF THE DAY: "The driving force of the African American's perception of identity is an innate sense of loss and separation from our original ethnic and cultural identities caused by the forced exodus of our people during the slave migration. Segregation of any sort only reminds our people of this forced loss, and more importantly, highlights our inability to ever regain the stability from knowing, 'I am who I am, because I emphatically know my history.' Segregation in any way is wrong and has no place within any society." --hourxiii


Pennsylvania school experiments with 'segregation'


The junior class at McCaskey East High School in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, is voluntarily segregated by the students, who organize themselves "by gender, race and/or language," school spokeswoman Kelly Burkholder said. Readers were mostly opposed to the idea, but there were a lot of readers who thought a project of this sort could help students if done right.


riley352 said, "Here is my white boy point of view. I'm comfortable around black people. I live in an upper-class neighborhood that is actually very diverse and my next door neighbors are black (as well as about 10 other homes in a one block radius). ... We need our children and their teachers to interact with each others regardless of race so that we can all learn to live together and MOVE ON. ... How this doesn't have everyone, regardless of race, calling for this principal's resignation is beyond me."


wierdeddie said, "We need to ease up on the political correctness, and find some solutions. If this program raises the test scores (more than what would be predicted by Hawthorne effect, etc.) then do it."


rakelts203 said, "Here's what will work: Segregate the students who are unteachable from the ones who want to learn something. The greatest pressures pushing public education into the dumper are disruptive students and uninvolved parents." SheepDetectr said in response, "THIS I agree with. When you have rotten kids or slow kids, they should be taken aside and helped accordingly. Teachers waste far too much time on disciplining rotten kids with stupid parents than actually teaching those that WANT to learn. But seperating by the made-up construct of race is rediculous!"


What protesters in Arab nations do -- and don't -- have in common


This article on recent demonstrations got people talking about the weighty issue of people's relationship with their government. Emile Hokayem, with the International Institute for Strategic Studies in the Middle East, said, "They're all protesting about growing inequalities, they're all protesting against growing nepotism. The top of the pyramid was getting richer and richer."


Many commenters said the feeling is mutual all over the globe, and suggested that people in the U.S. are feeling similar angst. nwJpublic wrote, "People worldwide are tired of not being heard. Government leaders would be wise to step off their thrones and listen to the people. The unrest will only spread unless they wake up and realize the power of the common men and women."


Bloggulator said, "The Arabs are protesting about EXACTLY what is happening in America. They want freedom, an end to corruption, plutocracy and nepotism, and they are in the streets, angry as a swarm of bees. Meanwhile, here in the U.S., we are taking it up the proverbial backside, and doing nothing. What a bunch of wimps the U.S. public are, except they are probably so ignorant, because of broad corporate media brainwashing, that they think they are free."


Ragsntags said, "They're complaining about the same conditions we experience here in the good old USA." Gosolar96 said in reply, "Americans have more 'stuff' than almost everyone else in the world, and people still complain that its not enough. And you wonder why everyone hates us." callmetibbs wrote, "Coming soon to America..." heatsketch said this probably won't happen in America, but, "It'll happen across Europe by the end of the decade, though."


Firedog51 wrote, "OK, let me see if I have this straight, Middle class is a blocked elite, Growing inequalities, petrolium and food prices sky rocketing, disparity between rich and poor, labor movements left behind and not sharing in economic growth and manipulating media outlets, Sounds like this country after 8 years of the Bush administration and everything that the Boehner, McConnell, Cantor and Republicans stand for."


Gosolar96 responded, "You're right Firedog. The poor in this county are forced to watch TV on a 40-inch flatscreen while the rich watch TV on a 60-inch flatscreen. ... I am ashamed to live in a country that alows such inequality."


Remembering the Challenger disaster, 25 years later


There are those moments in history that, time and again, make people want to dig into their memory banks and recall where they were when something happened. The Challenger disaster is one of the best examples of this. Readers reacted with true sadness, and many said they couldn't bear to look at footage of the smoking shuttle again.


banasy recalled, "I was at work and we were all in our offices watching, and we literally all started wailing and crying. Yes, even the men. We closed the office. We were all just that upset. Even though 25 years have passed, I'll bet anyone who witnessed that will always remember that day, and the courage of our astronauts, (living and passed) for stepping into the unknown, good and bad. RIP. Their families should know that, in my opinion, they are heroes and epitomize why little boys and girls STILL want to grow up to be astronauts."


Grant said, "I was working at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California, on that day. The entire 5,000 employee staff and contractors were watching the shuttle launch on NASA-Select TV, in nearly every building on the base. Then the explosion. The entire community gasped. It was absolutely surreal. Everywhere on the base, people were stunned and in shock for the rest of the day. Very few people said much on that day. I cannot believe 25 years have since gone by. RIP."


Christa McAuliffe, a New Hampshire social studies teacher, had been selected to be the first teacher in space. Many of the most vivid memories of the launch were shared by people who were watching at school, and our CNN iReport blog post focuses on those stories from the classroom. Commenters in turn responded with even more stories of their own childhood memories.


SissyReads was on a field trip to watch the launch in fourth grade. "I remember that I forgot my camera on the school bus, because we were running late and we'd had to run from the parking lot to get a good spot to see it. Someone had a radio and as we watched it explode, we could not believe what we were seeing.  The adults around us were crying, but we didn't really get it.  We were supposed to go in and tour the Space Center, but after the explosion they could not push people out of there fast enough. ... I have these old, small photographs that I took once we got back on the bus and I found my camera.  The smoke and mist hung in the air for a long time, staying in that same shape until the wind blew it away. The memory will stay with me forever."


YOUR TURN: Now that you've read what other people are saying, do you find that your views align with theirs? Think of this as a wishing well in need of your 2 cents. Post a comment below or sound off on video.


Compiled by the moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

Posted by:
// January 28, 2011
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Children, now grown up, remember Challenger »

The explosion of Space Shuttle Challenger on January 28, 1986, became the “Where were you?” moment for a generation of schoolchildren who watched the shuttle launch live on TV.


Children and their teachers felt a special connection to the mission because the shuttle was carrying Christa McAuliffe, the New Hampshire social studies teacher selected to be the first teacher in space.


We asked the CNN audience to share their recollections of the tragedy 25 years later. Though people of all ages mourned the loss of the seven astronauts, we were especially touched by some of the memories of iReporters who witnessed the accident as children.


Clarence Searles – Age 8


All the schools on the McGuire Air Force Base were named for space shuttles, and Clarence Searles was a second grader at the Challenger Elementary School.


His class had another tie to the mission: Through a project with NASA, the young students had harvested tomato seeds from plants they had grown in class and sent them up with the astronauts to learn how the tiny plants would grow in space.


“We were all very excited to watch,” said Searles, 33, an IT supervisor in Albuquerque, New Mexico.


Searles, who loved planes and wanted to be an astronaut, remembers sitting with the other children in the classroom to watch the launch.


“Pretty much everything had stopped,” he said. “When the tragedy happened, it was a huge letdown to everybody. Being military families and everybody’s parents being Air Force, it was very close to us.”


Kathryn Stuart – Age 7


The Challenger liftoff was Kathryn Stuart’s first memory of a big news story. She was a student in Mrs. McLaughlin's second-grade class at Blankner Elementary in Orlando, Florida, about an hour’s drive from the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center. Her class watched the takeoff from the school playground.


She remembers looking up at the sky. Then another teacher turned to hers and said, “I have a bad feeling about this.”


“And then, I don’t know how many seconds later, it blew up,” says Stuart, 32, an event planner in Central Florida. “We were all trying to make sense of it. They took us off the playground as quickly as they could and we went back to class.”


Charles Atkeison – Age 15


Charles Atkeison was just a sophomore at Berkmar High School in Lilburn, Georgia, but he knew more details about the space shuttle program and Challenger than many adults. The young space buff had frequently contacted NASA’s Kennedy and Johnson space centers for documents to track shuttle flights, all of which he watched on TV. He even exchanged letters and spoke with Challenger mission specialist Judith Resnik several times on the phone.


That morning, his chorus class had a TV tuned in to CNN. The shuttle rose from the pad. Then applause broke out around him.


“It’s ascending into the deep blue skies … it was so beautiful watching,” said Atkeison, 40, now a freelance space journalist in Alpharetta, Georgia. “It was a normal looking shuttle launch all the way up, until it disintegrated.”


When the white cloud burst covered the screen, silence fell in the classroom.

He knew something was wrong – just not exactly what. He can still hear NASA public affairs officer, Steve Nesbitt, saying seconds later, “Obviously a major malfunction.”


He pulled his chair closer to the TV to get a better look. Then the bell rang, “and I’m not wanting to leave, but I had a math test. I don’t know how well I did. All I remember thinking was, ‘I’ve got to go home.’”


Atkeison says he hopes the 25th anniversary will be an occasion to think about how Challenger became “an inspiration for learning.” In the years following the tragedy, families of the crew began the Challenger Center for Space Science Education and created 48 learning centers that take children on simulated space missions, furthering the mission of the fallen astronauts.


“We should focus on how important it is to teach our children science and math, and not so much on mourning those lost,” Atkeison said. “Challenger's seven astronauts did not look for attention, but [were filled with] the excitement of what science and space can do to improve our way of life here on earth.”

Posted by: dsashin // January 28, 2011
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Posted in: stories
Overheard on Alternatives to color-coded threat alerts »


COMMENT OF THE DAY: "We are currently at threat level pastel orange." --skunky99


Color-coded threat system to be replaced in April
U.S. replaces color-coded terror alerts


The almost 9-year-old color-coded Homeland Security Advisory System is scheduled to be replaced with a new system that gives detailed advisories about specific threats. There was, of course, lots of thoughtful discussion in the comments area about the implications and value of the respective alerts.


The majority of readers' responses expressed happiness that the old color codes were on their way out. Interestingly, many readers said they could have done better, and shared some creative, mostly joking suggestions for security threat measurement:


* 'Candy-coded' threats? "They should replace it with a candy-coded system. Gummy Bears for low, Mars Bar for guarded, Butterfinger for elevated, Reeses Peanut Butter Cup for high and Mike & Ike for severe." --RMRCal
* More refined colors? "Vermilion, cerise, fuchsia, amaranth and magenta." --ALP65
* Albums? "How about using a warning system that goes from 'Blackwatch Plaid' to the cover of Rush's seminal album 'Moving Pictures'?" --DrivenTooFar
* Antoine Dodson? "New Code system: Level 1: Hide yo kidz. Level 2: Hide yo wife. Level 3: Hide yo husband. Level 4: They be rapin everybody out here." --adrian401
* Condiments? "The new system will be based not on color but on flavor. It is a 12-point system starting with Chocolate and ending with Tabasco. Today's threat level is mustard with a dash of cilantro and a touch of horse radish." --RalfTheDog
* Angry unicorns? "Alert level orange basically means it's a weekday. Next up, mythical animals. Shelter in place when we reach 'Angry Unicorn' level." --Mark9988
* Addams Family? "I think they're planning on replacing it with the Addams Family code -- Code Pugsly: Not much going on. Code Wednesday: Everything LOOKS ok, but we know somethin's not right. Code Morticia: 'nuff said. Code Gomez: Extreme terror threat to the nations railroads. Code Fester: Kabooom!" --JAdams1776
* Shapes? "How about a circle. A Square. A triangle. A rectangle." --dlarsen


Authorities seize catapult used to hurl pot into Arizona


Grainy video from the Department of Homeland Security shows three men priming the throwing arm of a medieval-esque mechanism designed to hurl bricks of Marijuana over a border fence. Two of the men step away, and when the remaining man lets go, the catapult chucks its wares over the fence.


Many of the commenters on this story got into a spirited debate over whether this was a catapult that utilizes elastic properties to fling objects, or a counterweight-powered trebuchet, like commenter John was saying. Commenters like Dan noted "the arm of the device is springy" in the video and thus elastic forces are at work.


We saw all the comments you posted and wanted to let you know that we've confirmed the device is being called a catapult. David Jimarez with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol in Tucson, Arizona, told CNN that the device was a catapult powered by an elastic band, and there was no counterweight, as a trebuchet would use. Of course, others like commenter Mike opined that the trebuchet is a type of catapult, and thus the whole argument is moot in the first place. Or do both fall under the category of siege weapons? What do you think?


Regardless, readers were impressed by the creativity involved. DarkLogic said, "Gotta admit, necessity is the mother of invention. That, and simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication." NewApp compared the device to the addictive game "Angry Birds." To some like Burbank, the story was a source of amusement. "I couldn't help laughing. I laughed so hard I almost fell out of my chair. I think it's time to just legalize it and stop all this nonsense. Next they'll be hurling illegals Evil Knievel style, just another weapon in the Mexican invasion."


Teen explains origins of mystery piano


Now we know. It was a teenager who admitted to hauling a piano out onto a sandbar in Biscayne Bay in South Florida. Some people were mad, some were amused, and others debated whether it's really art, as you'll see. But overall, there was a sense of killed buzz.


ELupeh said, "The story seemed a lot more interesting when no one knew where it came from. Now knowing the story, it seems more like a prank and less of an artistic expression. Oh well." loverpoint said, "If only there were an octopus out there that could play the piano." And if you thumb through the comments on the story, brace yourself for some puns:  "Doesn't anyone care that the sea will now be full of scales?" asked nightcelt.


An unsigned commenter wrote, "This is art if you consider its location and the statement behind it. Art is anything that makes a statement on its own, which this piano on a sand bar does. There is the piano alone, in the middle of the water." Among those who said it wasn't art, vannabanana wrote, "Only in America, the land of excess and waste, would such a prank be thought of as artistic, or at worst, littering. I'm not a 'green' fanatic, but the thought of taking such a valuable item and setting it on fire, or abandoning it in the ocean when it could have been donated to a school or needy organization?" redleg50 said, "Shoot, leave the kid alone. It could be worse with him roaming the streets with drugs or worse."


dtboco3 said, "Some of you people need to lighten up. Anyone who thinks this is somehow going to become a common occurrence has never moved a grand piano."


YOUR TURN: Now that you've read what other people are saying, do you find that your views align with theirs? Think of this as a wishing well in need of your 2 cents. Post a comment below or sound off on video.


Compiled by the moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

Posted by:
// January 27, 2011
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CNN iReport roundtable: Economy Tracker project »


We've got a special topic for today's iReport roundtable: CNN's Economy Tracker project. Throughout 2010, six iReporters – Miriam Cintron, Omekongo Dibinga, Chris Morrow, Mike Stouffer, Barbara Rademacher and Egberto Willies – helped CNN tell the story of America's economy by profiling someone in their community for an entire year.


It was a challenge, but all of the iReporters rose to the occasion. Through their monthly video updates, we got to know each of the people profiled and were given a glimpse of how the economy affected them.


Today, we're showcasing the culmination of their work on and also want to recognize the landmark project here at the roundtable.


Some of the Economy Tracker iReporters will be here to answer any questions you may have about being part of the project and, if there's time, we may even dream up future collaborations!


Join us back here at 3:00 p.m. ET when we'll begin the conversation. In the meantime, check out the Economy Tracker story on CNN to get familiar with the project.

Posted by: katie // January 27, 2011
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Posted in: community
Overheard on 'Sorry Italy' »



'Jersey Shore' cast heading to Italy

Comment of the day:

Dear Italy,

Sorry about this one.

Love, The United States of America – sarge08


MTV announced that Snooki, Vinnie, JWOWW and the rest of the “Jersey Shore" gang are heading to Italy, but many readers aren't excited about this American export. Some, such as pini1973, called them "a disgrace and an embarrassment" to Italians and said Italy shouldn't let them in the country. Others, such as bloofer, hoped Italy would keep them.


There were also concerns that the group would cause a diplomatic catastrophe and speculation that the cast either would end up partying with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi or in jail with Amanda Knox.


Should teachers grade parents?

A Florida bill that would require teachers to grade their students' parents sparked a big debate over who is responsible for children's education.


Reader herself says there are already laws requiring kids to go to school and that teachers should be under scrutiny: “When I get to grade my kids' teachers and there is actually some accountability, then I'll discuss having them grade me. This business of just sending homework for parents and teaching by work sheet is for the birds."


But sadie3850 says every teacher knows that parents are the key. "It's (a) three-legged stool folks -- commitment from teachers, parents and kids -- yes, kids need to be involved and responsible for their own learning -- not just sitting there like dopes waiting for knowledge to be pored in their heads. And the districts with the best scores are the districts with the most functional parents."


TripAdvisor names dirtiest hotels

Stains, smells and creepy-crawly roommates were just a few of the complaints about some of the worst-rated hotels in the United States, but missagatha said one hotel's ranking shouldn't have been a surprise.


"I have studied the life of Jack London and Jack London Inn actually sounds like it captures the spirit of Jack London, who spent large portions of his life in similar squalid conditions. Not that that makes it an enjoyable hotel experience."


Spankie1 always removes the comforter at any hotel because "I would rather be cold than sleep under a piece of linen that rarely, if EVER, gets washed. Freaking gross. Hotels are disgusting. … I cannot imagine walking barefoot on hotel carpet.”


Catharsis88 said removing the bedcovers probably is a good idea. "I had a friend who worked at a hotel one time and she told me they washed the bedsheets daily but the bedcovers got washed once a week. That's just plain nasty."


Compiled by the moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

Posted by:
// January 26, 2011
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Posted in: comments
iReporter in the mix at global summit »



The normally sleepy town of Davos, Switzerland, is bustling with world leaders, business executives, social activists and iReport wunderkind Trevor Dougherty. The 18-year-old is attending the World Economic Forum, an annual summit aimed at tackling the problems facing the world.


He’s going to be busy during the five-day conference. He's blogging for both "The Washington Post" and Reuters  and is scheduled to participate in a panel discussion on social network addiction. Plus, he'll be sharing his experiences with us here at CNN iReport.


Dougherty says the scene at the conference center is "pretty crazy," with people pounding away on their laptops and iPads and doing lots of networking.  "I've probably got 30 business cards in my pocket right now," he said. He even got to meet with forum founder Klaus Schwab on Wednesday afternoon.


He is the youngest American to attend the conference, but this isn't his first time on a big stage. He got our attention in 2008, when he worked his way the front row at the Democratic National Conventionand has continued to send amazing stories from all over the world ever since.


You can follow Doughtery on Twitter to get an insider's view of the forum.

Posted by:
// January 26, 2011
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Posted in: stories
iCandy: What-frost? »

Snowflakes and icicles are beautiful and well-known sights of winter. Less familiar, but equally beautiful, is what you see above: Hoarfrost.


Hoarfrost is essentially frozen dew. Droplets of dew form on plants when relative humidity in the air is above 100 percent. But when plants and outdoor objects are cooled to well below freezing, the liquid dew that forms on them turns to frost.


Hoarfrost can form intricate, feathery patterns, or it can cover enough of a plant or object to look like snow.


"It looked like snow, but more fuzzy," said Harry Ewart, who helped his wife shoot the above photo in Memphis, Tennessee. "When she stepped into the back yard, the crystal formations just stood out."


And, unlike the solid glaze of ice that can sometimes form on branches and leaves, the spines of hoarfrost can be very delicate.


"Even a slight breeze would cause them to break," said Ewart.


Is the winter weather creating beautiful scenery where you are? Share your photos with CNN iReport.

Posted by:
// January 25, 2011
 27 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: stories
Overheard on Is America ready to win? »


Comment of the day: “State of the Union address: "Tomorrow, tomorrow, the sun will come out tomorrow. We’re only a day away!" --bailoutsos


President Obama to address the nation


The focus of Tuesday night’s State of the Union address will be jobs and "America winning," one of President Barack Obama’s top advisers said. So what are viewers hoping to hear? Here are some of readers’ views:


wordswords said, “I'd love to see a plan to be out of debt to China ... and anyone else. We're the U.S. We shouldn't owe anyone anything.” mikeofiron said, “I hope he tells us how to stop gas from going to $4 a gallon by summer. The last time we hit that our economy went into a tailspin. Will history repeat itself?” Commander21 said, “Start a program for the common people who would love to own their own business (like me) but because of the current economy have not been able to save enough to do it.” fredastaire8 said, “Lower corporate taxes tied to new jobs created in the U.S. and held in place for five years or more.”


Some readers saw answers that seemed obvious to them. Taikon said, “Want to turn it around? Opt out of the free trade agreements we signed. With that the age of cheap products from China would be over. It really is that simple.” poiop said, “Easy. Cut all foreign aid and all foreign military 'adventures.’ Scale down to a real, tight efficient military force that can defend our country when necessary, not when someone needs some 'protection' for their overseas investments.”


Did you watch the State of the Union? If so, leave your impressions below.


And the nominees are?


The Academy Award nominations were announced Tuesday, and some readers shared their opinions about who made the list and who didn’t.


Readers were enthusiastic about “The King’s Speech.” Fred Hoffman said, “’The King's Speech’ and the actors in it deserve to zoom to the top. Incredible story well told.” Rob said, “’The King's Speech’ for all of it.” And nnenna said, “So happy Colin Firth is getting his second nomination, twice in a row. I hope he wins it.”


What did many readers say was the biggest Oscar snub? Christopher Nolan didn’t get a best director nomination for “Inception.” Marcus said, “Wish there was room for Christopher Nolan for best director since ‘Inception’ was the best movie of 2010, IMO.” ana montagne said, “It’s a shame Christopher Nolan is not nominated as best director. I hope ‘Inception’ wins all (its) nominations.” GCS said, “Christopher Nolan missing for best direction?!”


The movie most readers said they weren’t familiar with? The critically acclaimed “Winter’s Bone.” Pat said, “What the hell is ‘Winter's Bone?’ I've never even heard of it.” Mary said, “That's a shame. No one has heard of it since it didn't get a wide release.”


And “Black Swan” was the movie that readers seemed either to love or hate. Monique said, ‘Black Swan’ was a bizarre movie.” Lisa L said, “Not sure what the hype was about. ‘Black Swan’ was confusing and strange and seemed foreign.” But KRG said, “I have seen eight of the 10 films nominated for best picture. If I was an academy member, my vote would go to ‘Black Swan.’ It is a film that stays with you long after you leave the theater.”


Frank talk with terminal patients


The American Society of Clinical Oncology has released a new policy statement and a patient guide for conversations about the time when treatment options run out, prompting these readers’ comments:


musica1 said, “When my mom’s cancer got to a point her oncologist just said, ‘We can't cure this, but we can do things to extend your life somewhat and make you as comfortable as possible.’ Plain talk and didn't take hours. Then she and I talked about what she would like the end to be like.”


A nurse said, “Not only do physicians need to have these talks from the beginning of any serious disease, patients need to be empowered and search for factual information and learn what they are dealing with.”


C said, “This is so important. I am an ER (emergency room) physician and can't count the number of times that a patient with end stage cancer, or other terminal conditions, has come into the ER near death, and when I ask the patient and their family what their wishes are for end-of-life care, they just look confused and tell me that no one has ever asked them that before. Not their primary care physician, not their oncologist, no one.”


Richard said, “My 4-year-old son was DX (diagnosed) with recurrent Wilms Tumor and has a short time left. Over the course of three years the oncologists were very clear regarding the treatment options and prognosis. The words were often difficult to hear, but ultimately we are further ahead in this journey. I can still remember the doctors saying, ‘He could die at home or the hospital, it is your decision.’ I appreciate the doctors being open and honest.”


Do you feel your views align with these commenters' thoughts? Post a comment below or sound off on video

Compiled by the moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

Posted by: kgriggs // January 25, 2011
Posted in: comments
Overheard on Praise for an exercise icon »


Comment of the day: “Hey Jack, whip those angels into shape. R.I.P.” --6pt02x10to23


Jack LaLanne dies at age 96


America’s beloved fitness guru, Jack LaLanne died Sunday at his home in California, his agent said. He was 96. Many readers recalled how decades ago he either helped them, their mothers or their grandmothers get into shape, but mainly they hailed LaLanne for his lifelong devotion to staying healthy.


PoorTurkey said, “We will miss you, Jack. You squeezed out every drop that life had to offer.” Jim1956 said, “Jack left this world a better place then when found it. You can't do better in one lifetime." Guest said, “You have to have respect for anyone who can tow a 1,000 (pound) boat while swimming. From Alcatraz to SF harbor. Handcuffed. And shackled.” cpo7 said, “I remember Jack when I was a small boy and I'm older'n dirt. He will be missed by us old farts.”


Others shared how LaLanne impacted their lives. qqqqqjim said, “Jack turned me into a juicer years ago and I haven't been sick since, and I'm 73." PolarOP said, “Today's workout is for Jack. He has inspired me all my life." coffeebean2 said, “Goodbye Jack! I grew up with you, Howdy Doody, Roy Rogers, Tarzan, The Lone Ranger, Captain Kangaroo, Mr. Green Jeans, Mighty Mouse and Gumby. You, my friend, out lived them all!" butchwax said, “My mom had a crush on him. Saturday morning cartoons were off limits until he was done! R.I.P.”


Some readers commented on his physical prowess. MrBones said, “Honestly, I always pictured him going out while swimming the English Channel with a piano tied to him or something. Inspirational cat, this guy.” Codifex said, “Chuck Norris couldn't keep up with Jack LaLanne.” MisterSnow said, “Jack LaLanne once b**** slapped Chuck Norris, and Chuck Norris thanked him every day for a decade.”


Trooper punched drunk driver

Jarring video of a Utah Highway Patrol Trooper punching a woman multiple times failed to move readers. The woman in question was drunk, had led Utah police officers on a high-speed chase that ended when they blocked her car, and most readers had no mercy for her while a few felt the trooper crossed the line.


ATP1964 said, “They should have shot her!” run2jazz2 said, “She got what she deserved!" pike1346 said, “I think they tried to do what was necessary. This woman had her car floored while they were trying to get her out of the car. The cops could have been killed. They should be awarded, not prosecuted.” Soupperman sarcastically said, “I guess the right thing to do was let her run them over and hurt someone else in her path.”


HarvardLaw92 said, “I don't know about you, but several blows in rapid succession without stopping to ascertain effectiveness doesn't strike me as a measured response. It strikes me as an emotionally charged response that he is trying to justify after the fact.” Minkakross said, “If he could break her window reach in and hit her he could have reached in to remove her hands from the steering wheel and cuffed her or reached in and opened the door."


Afghan children and opium

A story about mothers in Afghanistan who feed their children opium elicited strong responses from readers, from empathy for the Afghan children to comparisons of similar problems in the United States.


beDecent said, “Ugh, what a vicious cycle. They don't even know what they're doing to their children and I am sure the majority of parents would stop if they knew what kind of effects any drug has on a brain, let alone a developing one. Education is the only way to help them at this point.” Bobby62 said, “It is very sad. This is also practiced in remote villages in Iran. Some children OD by accident as well. As parents we all love our children, unfortunately many in those areas can't do more.”


OuttaLuck said, “In America we just feed our kids Ritalin instead…Not much of a difference.” DeerLeg92 said, “Anyone comparing this to the use of Ritalin in the USA is completely ridiculous because those drugs are widely used and tested to effectively give kids with ADD/ADHD their attention back.” KritterKat said, “In some communities in America over 50 percent of children are functionally illiterate and are exposed to drugs before they are born. How are we any better? We don't even take equal care of our own people and we let this kind of behavior continue under our noses.”


Do you feel your views align with these commenters' thoughts? Post a comment below or sound off on video.


Compiled by the moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

Posted by: kgriggs // January 24, 2011
 6 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: comments
Sum up the State of the Union in a tweet »

President Obama will deliver his 2011 State of the Union address to Congress on Tuesday night. The speech will begin at 9 p.m. ET and is expected to include discussion about important issues like the economy.


In today’s world of quick-fire texts, microblogging and constant news, it’s a challenge to condense such a substantial speech. But we’re putting you up to the task.


After you watch the speech, send your best summary to @cnnireport via Twitter. With the at-reply, you'll have 129 characters to sum up Obama’s speech. Think about what topics or moments stood out to you, and feel free to have fun and get creative. We’re planning to feature the best responses on as part of our coverage of the State of the Union and can’t wait to see what you come up with!


Update: The speech is over, but the conversation continues on Twitter and in the comments area below. Send your summary of the speech to @cnnireport! If you want to share your opinion on video, sound off here. Let us know what you thought about the State of the Union address.


Update -- Wednesday: We've published this quote gallery showcasing 15 of the tweets.

Posted by:
// January 24, 2011
 171 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: stories
Government protests around the world »

We've all heard so much about the protests in Tunisia that led to a revolution against former government leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. But Tunisia's actually only one of three countries that have seen massive popular uprisings in the past couple of weeks.


The Tunisian rallies, seen above, sparked much smaller protests against governments in nearby countries such as Algeria, Libya and Egypt. But two more countries, Belgium and Albania, have been experiencing huge protests against their governments that are unrelated to the situation in Tunisia.


Thousands of Belgians came together in Brussels to voice their frustration about their country effectively not having a government since June 2010 elections. "Most people present in the streets of Brussels find the political situation intolerable and have had enough of the inability to find consensus by the political establishment," said Peter Vandenplas, who shot the above photo. He says the march was very peaceful, and Tey-Marie Astudillo, who also attended, agrees: "There were street vendors and music.  For a protest, it was very upbeat and friendly, almost like a parade rather than a protest," she said.


And in Albania, protests against government corruption turned violent. They began after a video surfaced of government officials leading extravagant lifestyles. "For anyone that thinks Albania is a democracy, think again," said Ladi, who participated in the protests and shot photos. [His full name has been omitted out of security concerns.] "You call a country a democracy that has government workers buying themselves out of trouble and into luxury while the people starve and have no jobs?"


Have you been participating in any of these protests? Share your stories and photos with CNN iReport, but please put your personal safety above all else.

Posted by:
// January 24, 2011
 2 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: stories
Overheard on Using cell phones in flight »


Is it really dangerous to use a cell phone on a plane?


Comment of the day: "The next time I'm on a flight, at takeoff, I'm going to tether my phone to my laptop to get internet access, watch a movie on a portable DVD player, turn on my HAM radio, and text my friends on another phone for good measure." --wilhan01


The science of cell phones on planes is up for debate. Readers hashed it out and seemed to fall into two camps: those who think cell phones should be outlawed on flights based on their possibility to be annoying, and those who think people should be able to use them on flights. Some said texting would be OK. Many people in the latter camp said they think airlines want to make money off of Wi-Fi, or had some other reason for having rules.


Some, like Catbert00, said they leave phones on during flights and encourage others to do the same. "As soon as they can charge you to make those cell calls and texts, they will be fine. Do you actually think the FAA or the TSA or the postmaster general would allow $100 million aircraft to fly millions of people around the country each year if a little old cell phone could bring it down. ... The real reason for turning off and stowing all electronic devices is so if there is a problem, they won't become projectiles hurling through the cabin (plan and simple)."


MEWeaver said, "Any reason not to have to listen to the bores that blab on the phone is sufficient. An airline flight is the last bastion of quiet from the nauseating blah, blah, blah of cell phone users." AngryDeuce said, "I've yet to be on a flight that doesn't have at least one screaming infant on board. If we're gonna start passing rules in the interests of not being annoying, I got a few more rules to submit, thank you very much." Walleye46 said, "If I had to sit next to someone on a cell phone for four hours I would probably be ready to either go insane or kill that person. This is definitely NOT a good idea for many travelers."


And then there were some who couldn't get over the story's main photo. Clafong said the man is overcompensating for a possible lack of manhood. "The picture at the front of this article says it all."


Tracking down my online haters


Honorable mention: "All you people are a bunch of #$%^**!!. You don't #%$!! know the first @#$%!! thing about @$#%^&!! There isn't any rude or nasty @#%^$! comments on the internet! You're !@*&%%$#! imagining things you blind, backward &^%&%##!! .... (god I love anonymity!)" --crapmaster


Jeff Pearlman is a columnist with who wrote about confronting a Twitter user who sent him a naughty note. We thought it would be fitting to highlight some of the comments that story got -- and then ask for still more comments. Interestingly, some commenters wondered if the author's decision to track down a commenter and contact them was creepy; others argued in response that it was the journalistic thing to do.


Dabney wrote, "I speak to many on the fine art of minding your manners on social media. It is as simple as this: do and say online only what you would do and say in real life. It is difficult enough to 'take it back' when you speak poorly to or of someone in real life. It is impossible on social media. What you say and what you do will be retrievable forever. Mind your manners, engage as who you really are and you will find success and build your influence for your brand or business easily."


Perhaps society as a whole is becoming too anonymous. NavRetired said we see too many people in our daily lives who are just a few more anonymous faces. "We are all very small islands now. Some islands are angrier than others." Kathryn1213 noted driver behavior: "Try driving any distance and see how people react if they think you aren't going fast enough. They tailgate, flip you off, honk and more."


Or, perhaps Pearlman just needed some thicker skin. momomiester said, "Jeff, Jeff, Jeff. Why take it so personal? Plus, you might just confront the wrong guy next time and that might put you and your family in danger." cre8tiv says technology rewards bad behavior: "Internet training by Pavlov. Thoughtful, polite comments are usually ignored while nasty comments often yield replies. People like to be noticed. I don't know the cure for this, but I applaud you tracking them down." davidp44022 said things have changed since letters to the editor. "Now that getting a new e-mail address is easy, everybody can write what they want. Until your e-mail address becomes part of your actual personal identity, trolling will never end." And then there was masquedx: "Ha. There's two men that won't be trolling again any time soon, if ever. They probably had no idea how to handle being accountable for their vitriol."


She ate 162 school lunches -- and blogged it


Readers were all over the map both in their assessment of the 162 school lunches in question, and in their evaluation of the school lunches near them. Some were even nostalgic for their childhoods. One might ponder what some commenters noted: that the quality of the food varies from place to place, depending on how each district is set up.


EdTheGeek wrote, "I'm in my late 40s, but I used to love the meat loaf and mashed potatoes with gravy when I was in third grade. I also loved the pizza too. I even like the nasty looking spinach! Those were the days when most of the food was actually cooked/heated up in the school cafeteria and not some offsite kitchen where the food was delivered by van and served in plastic containers. What happened to the school lunch system?"


ElPasoan1 said, "Hey look, us teachers have enough problems keeping parents from blaming us for all of their child's problems. If food is good, then the kids will eat it and get fat. Next, here come the lawsuits just like with Mcdonald's. Be happy your kid has a choice -- to eat or not to eat. I see this as more propaganda to raise prices everywhere and we're using buzz words like, children, hunger, families, and good health to do it. Don't be fooled America!"


Some people said they've tried the school lunches, too. onlyinameric wrote, "I teach at a school that has about 80 percent of its students on free or reduced lunch, and this article is dead on. For many of our students, their free lunch is the only real meal they get all day. The broccoli and rice is always so overcooked as to be mush. The kids won't eat it. Burgers and chicken patties are so hard from overcooking that they are like rubber. Some days the chicken nuggets are pink inside. I ate in the cafeteria for a couple of months and gained 15 pounds. The lunches aren't healthy. Anyone who tells you that their school 'serves fresh fruit and green salads' probably is in a higher income area where parents wouldn't allow such a thing."



YOUR TURN: Now that you've read what other people are saying, do you find that your views align with theirs? Think of this as a wishing well in need of your 2 cents. Post a comment below or sound off on video.


Compiled by the moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

Posted by:
// January 21, 2011
 49 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: comments
Looking for something to do this weekend? »

Problem: I’m boreddddddddddd. What is there to do today?

Solution: Check out the fresh assignments on the iReport desk!


I’m looking for something newsy

If you’re a newshound like me, you probably know the president’s State of the Union address is just around the corner on Tuesday. To prepare, we’d like to hear about the state of your community. Send us a photograph that best sums up the conditions where you live, whether it’s negative or positive trend. Is it unemployment, neglected roads, new construction, or something else? Show us in photos.


I’d like to reminisce

If you’d like to look more into the past instead of the present, we’ve got another idea for you. It was 50 years ago that President John F. Kennedy gave his famous "ask not" inaugural address. The message of service led to Kennedy’s founding of the Peace Corps on March 1, 1961. Did you serve in the Peace Corps? We want to hear about your experience and see photos of your service.


I want a fun challenge

For lighter fare, share your top school lunch secrets with bored lunch goers everywhere. Send us your favorite lunches – the ones you love to make (or eat) and the ones you know your kids devour. Post your recipes, time tips, or go-to foods.


I want to get away

Whether it’s a winter vacation getaway or a jaunt to a favorite summer destination, we know folks love to travel. HLN’s Clark Howard is a travel junkie too! Have you ever taken a great vacation and spent only a little dough? Send us your budget travel secrets and share images of your low-dough trip.


Explore and find out what strikes your fancy. We’ll be waiting to see what kind of stories come rolling in this weekend. Go forth with fresh assignments and be inspired. Happy weekend!

Posted by:
// January 21, 2011
 0 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: community
Overheard on Poe Toaster or 'faux toaster'? »


Reply of the day: "Yeah, either that or he was on a bender because the Ravens lost and he drank the cognac." --jonas


Edgar Allan Poe's cognac-carrying admirer fails to materialize again


The famed Poe Toaster has failed to show up for a graveside glass of cognac for the second year in a row, spawning more than a few theories as to what might have occurred. Our commenters love a good mystery. Poe Fan claims to have been among those waiting outside, and shared this account about some Poe Toasters and faux toasters:


"I saw two guys try to impersonate the toaster with only flowers. How can one 'toast' without alcohol, you ask? To which I reply: good question. They were the faux toasters. Unbelievably, one woman showed up in a stretch Hummer limo: flowers, cognac, the whole bit, except the cognac was Hennessy (an inferior label, to be generous) and she never went anywhere near the grave, leaving her two-bit tribute at the Poe monument instead. ... Only one comer among them stood out. In the wee hours, around 2 a.m., a spry young woman in a clouche hat, with roses and cognac of excellent label tucked in her coat, made her way deftly through the crowd. And, without any pretension she delivered her tribute to the grave. Then, without a word, she was gone -- was whisked away in a passing car and disappeared into the night."


Both kmetal balmer and Nikki said the toaster could be afraid of being caught, although the latter did admit, "There is still the possibility that the person has passed away." Evolution suggested others "pass the torch" since people are interested. Nancy in WA said she would "venture to say that the person has died. Assuming they started placing things on his grave at the age of 18 (conservatively low), they would be 78. Realistically, the person was older when they started." BawlmerNative noted that if there was a second toaster, we don't necessarily know their fate. "So, even though it is entirely possible that the Poe Toaster is dead, it would most likely not be from old age."


Hmm. Zach says the toaster was an English teacher who died in December 2009. "He was so respected that when all 20 of us got back together at our high school reunion, we vowed never to reveal who he was because of the ultimate respect we had for him." kevin conway said it was writer John Updike, Jay said it was local poet David Franks, and commenter ben linus said there is a "badly guarded secret" in Baltimore: "Not to shock or surprise any of you but I can guarantee you that curator Jeff Jerome is the one who plants the cognac."


'Tiger Mothers' leave lifelong scars


Commenters let out a collective roar about a story already unleashing a striped firestorm from the caged abyss. Psychologist Lac Su responded to an article in the Wall Street Journal about "Tiger Mothers" who use a harsh parenting style. Most posters were supportive, and some were critical about American parenting.


ClavdeGothic said, "I commend the author for his bravery in writing this article and saying what needed to be said. How can anybody say it's EVER a good thing to tell somebody else they're worthless? Perverse cruelty is no substitute for loving parenting." AlteredEgo noted, "This kind of parenting is for adults too lazy or unwilling to change. At least this guy's father apologized. My mother's still doing the same thing ... at least she was the last I checked ... 20 years ago." sam69 said it's "no joke," opining that the Philippines and other Asian countries have similar attitudes toward education. "Kids study from sun-up to sun-down and, by middle school, are fluent in their own language as well as English. It all starts with the parents setting goals and expectations for their kids."


DGarcia17 gave a teacher's perspective: "In my experience, the one thing my Asian students fear most about doing less-than spectacular is their mother's reaction when the grades arrive. I couldn't tell you how many times I've had 18- and 20-year-old students come to tears over an A-." But ... ask2wice said, "American women feed their kids garbage! That's why they, and their kids, are so unhealthy and obese! Go walk around your average superstore and see all the obese women! American! Not so Chinese women here, or in Asia! They are not all 60 to 100 pounds overweight!"


For those looking to move forward, KPseattle45 offered this advice: "American parents never want to be told they're not doing it very well, but kids need love and boundaries. Tiger moms give lots of boundaries and maybe 'different' love, but we all grow into adults with a certain amount of baggage, whether raised by Tiger moms or Hippie moms who don't care what we do. The important part is that you can check your bags at the door and open them again when you have your own kids, so you can figure out how to do it better."


How porn is changing our sex lives


Made you look! No, but really, people have lots to say about porn's effects on real-life loving. CNN's story argues that men are masturbating exponentially more, and women are forced to compete with the, if you'll excuse me, boob tube.


steve says: "Whatever floats your boat! Nothing matches real, though." Meh wrote, "There's nothing like the feel of real, but at least the internet will never nag you, unless you were dumb enough to pay for something." Of course there are risks, says C. Smith. "Ah, but it also introduces a whole new realm of STDs: the digital kind. Enjoy your Trojan, just don't get a trojan."


Wzrd1 said, "Bleh, my wife and I enjoy watching some movies from my collection, zero problem. Sometimes, we'll watch a show, others we go get to it. But then, while we did not write the Kama Sutra, we DID add a few chapters to it over our more than 29 years of marriage. And it all started real simple, we TALKED to each other and still do. Now, if you'll excuse me, it's time for a nooner and we have to figure out whose turn it is to hang from the ceiling fan ..."


Is the flesh oh-so-2010? Frank Opinion doesn't think so, with a caveat: "American women have extremely unrealistic expectations. Generations of girls bought up to believe they will be Cinderella princesses, and demanding high wage earners, devoted husbands, expensive cars, accoutrements and vacations, big houses and status items. With them it is all about 'me, me, me.' Work on yourself, be less superficial, please your partner, don't be hideous. Then you might deserve all of the attention."


Why America is growing tired of Palin


Quick footnote: This opinion article was definitely one of the most-talked-about today. The more than 2,000 posts thus far were largely not in support of Palin. zombie2718 had this to say: "Think of Sarah Palin as the Justin Bieber of politics. Came from nowhere, does not possess much talent, but photogenic, then a stroke of luck got them the right attention at the right time, made famous by media propaganda for inexplicable reasons, and has a crazy loyal fan base." But there were some fans and gatorbaby01 wrote this: "I am not tired of Sarah Palin. I think she is a breath of fresh air in the sea of politics."


YOUR TURN: Now that you've read what other people are saying, do you find that your views align with theirs? Who is the Poe Toaster? Seen any faux toasters? Post a comment below or sound off on video.


Compiled by the moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

Posted by:
// January 20, 2011
 2 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: comments
CNN iReport roundtable: Thursdays at 3 p.m. »

Our weekly CNN iReport roundtable is coming up at 3 p.m. ET, so we hope you'll join us. We had a great discussion last week, and we're looking forward to talking with everyone.


This is a chance share your ideas, questions, comments and concerns with the iReport staff and the CNN iReport community.


We'll open comments at 3 p.m. ET.

Posted by:
// January 20, 2011
 128 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: community
The faces of homelessness »


Lyle Reust painted a portrait of Los Angeles’ homeless with a series of photographs. He wanted to show just how many people are in need of help so he’s spent the last few months walking Skid Row, an area with one of the largest homeless populations in the U.S.


"I just wanted to photograph something real ... everyday life [you] don’t see," Reust said.


If you could illustrate a larger social issue in your city how would you do it? We’d love to find out how you could make the intangible into something visual. Share your photographs and give us a first-person perspective of what you see.

Posted by:
// January 20, 2011
 2 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: stories
Overheard on 'Sexy lady' photo fake-outs »


Comment of the day: "OK, so unofficial poll: How many of you clicked on this article because of the hot chick on the cover link, skimmed through the pics, and didn't bother with the article? Be honest. OK, I'll start. I did." --1krr


'Sexy lady' and other hotel photo tricks


Whether you think marketing images are tricks or what happens when a skilled shutterbug does their job correctly, the story about resort reality versus image got a lot of people talking. Many of the commenters were photographers who spoke in defense of stylistic techniques. Check out some of the responses we got:


doonerist said: "None of the 'tricks' featured in the photos are trickery. Anyone who believes that the empty beach featured in the photo is what they will find at high season, midday, is too naive to travel. The Macy's looming next to the hotel pool? It doesn't affect the use of the pool. The tiny pool in Hawaii? You can always call the hotel to ask the square footage or gallon capacity of the pool, if you can't find that information on the website. And who expects a resort lagoon-style pool (which always have bars poolside) to be peaceful and empty?"


MCHammBohn said, "Would be nice if whoever took photo No. 9 remembered a few aspects of basic photography. It's horrible. I'm not referring to using a long lens to compact distance. I'm referring to the photo itself." cloud13 said, "Picture No. 6: My backyard swimming pool is bigger than that."


Some alluded to fast-food marketing. bluenile67 said, "How is this any different than McDonald's showing me a large juicy burger on TV only to be served a hockey puck? ... Honestly, I don't think the photographers should be blamed. Being one myself, our minds are automatically tuned into trying to find the best angle, eliminate clutter and only show parts of the image that convey the strongest visual message. ... Frankly, we should blame ourselves for continuing to be gullible at everything we see and hear through the media. Everything in our lives is just an illusion and every company in every industry over-promises and under-delivers, so why should some hotel pictures be any different?" amused2000 responded to bluenile67: "How is it different? A burger is less than $5. A 'resort' is a couple thousand."


Solar-powered 'smart' roads could zap snow, ice


Harsh winters cause problems when roads are clogged with ice and snow. Readers were excited about ideas for fixing this problem, for the most part. Some longed for flying cars, and others like NS151 didn't want the concept to spell the end of snow days, but most people were jazzed about the possibilities.


neptuneguy "This is a great idea. The price estimate is a bit staggering, but I bet that if it is proven to be effective and we decide to adopt it, we will build an infrastructure to produce the roads at a lower cost. I'm all for it if they can prove it will work." JAdams1776 responded, "I don't buy the economy of scale argument here. Sure, they might be able to reduce the cost significantly, but it would never be cheaper than an asphalt or concrete road. The cost savings from keeping the roads clear are more than offset by the increased cost of the road itself, and the interest paid on the bonds that fund said road. That's what often gets left out of these articles ... the cost of money itself kills small incremental advantages."


Several people talked about funding for projects like this. RSH wrote, "It's a beautiful and ingenious idea. Unfortunately, we have this ugly thing called conservatism which believes infrastructure improvements must be scuttled in favor of spending on wars and tax cuts for millionaires," adding, "And the snowplow or salt truck always drives by just moments after you slid into the ditch."


Will the world ever be ready for flying cars? oldsoldier52 said, "If they would just have given us the flying cars I was told as a child would be everywhere by now this would not be an issue."


Kelly Preston: Silent birth gave me peaceful kids


Scientology. The very word gets people talking. But with Kelly Preston's talk of the "silent birth" technique, intended to bring baby into the world in as stress-free an environment as possible, the chatter really started. Here's an excerpt from one particularly colorful thread:


LindsATL said, "Although I am not a supporter of scientology, I do believe that silent birth is a great way to immediately bond mother and child. What a precious and gentle gift to bring peace to the ears of a newborn in those first few minutes of life. I hope this will bring healing to their hearts."


Thomas in Vancouver replied, "Soooooo ... moaning, yelling and shrieking is OK, but talking during the birth would be traumatic and lead to a disconnect between mother and child. Gotcha!"


Some told stories of their births. Naomi said, "There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with wanting to give birth to your baby in a quiet, calm, peaceful way! Asking the nurses/doctors/midwives to accommodate that is not a wacky notion. ... This is nothing against those moms who need to yell during birth -- I have no judgment for you. But there should also be no judgment of those of us who want to give birth calmly and peacefully on our own terms. My first child came in under three hours and I ended up giving birth in triage surrounded by a bunch of triage nurses screaming like chickens with their heads cut off. I just wanted a dark, calm, peaceful surrounding and I couldn't have that. I only hope that I get to the hospital soon enough with my current pregnancy to get through the triage and get to my quiet room!"


Wendy said, "I screamed like a banshee during all 70 minutes of labor and delivery of my son. For anyone who thinks 'silent' birth is something normal, guess again. And by the way, mother and son have bonded quite nicely, despite the horrendous obscenities I yelled when he 'crowned.' I am unashamed."


YOUR TURN: Now that you've read what other people are saying, do you find that your views align with theirs? Think of this as a wishing well in need of your 2 cents. Post a comment below or sound off on video.


Compiled by the moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.An

Posted by:
// January 19, 2011
 9 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: comments
iCandy: Nature edition »

Here at iReport, we look through hundreds of photos and videos each day. And sometimes we come across images that are so beautiful, we just have to share them with you.


This is one of those times. In the past 48 hours or so, we received these three lovely images on the site. So here's your eye candy - or, if you're tacky like me, "iCandy" - of the day: the beauty of nature.


Above, Sara O'Connor enjoys the snow in Flagstaff, Arizona. Can you believe her boyfriend captured that image with a camera phone?! They live a couple hours away and drove up especially to see the snow on New Year's Day.


Craig Smith was really, really close to Krakatoa in Indonesia when he shot this picture on January 16. He was on a boat that got within half a mile of the (active) volcano! "What a show," said Smith, remembering the "amount of ash and rocks which were hurled into the air, the height of the ash and just the massive amount of energy which was released right in front of us."


Give you three guesses what this is! I thought it looked kind of like cells under a microscope; my desk-neighbor Christina said it was more like the bubbles in a glass of champagne. But Sokratis Lefas's photo is actually a macro - or super-close-up - shot of a frozen pond. He discovered it while hiking in his hometown of Serres, Greece, and says the bubbles caught his interest.


Thanks for sharing your amazing work, iReporters! We always look forward to seeing what fresh "iCandy" you'll bring us each day.

Posted by:
// January 19, 2011
 2 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: stories
Overheard on A dog's devotion »


Comment of the day: “I strive to be the person my dogs think I am.”–20 Year Veggie


Dog sits by owner's grave in Brazil


An image of Leao, a medium-sized, brown dog sitting next to her owner’s freshly covered grave has captured the world’s attention and CNN readers had plenty to say about the moving picture and the power of love between animals and people.


RD said “Pretty hard to beat the unconditional love, devotion and loyalty of dogs. They're the greatest creatures on earth.” Suz said, “Brings me to tears.” JoAnn White said, “Amazing. She (Cristina) must have cared deeply for her dog for her to show such loyalty. We can learn much from our canine friends.” Kim said, “So sad and so sweet all at once.” Patrick said, “What I find strange is that I feel more saddened by this article than any other news story I have read in a long time.”


Will Rodgers said: ‘If dogs don't go to heaven, then I want to go where they go.’ My sentiments exactly,” said Tom. And MDEBERRY said, “I once had a white lab and when I used to live about a mile from my grandfather, my dog would check on him every day. The day my grandfather died my dog became very sad and soon after he died. I know they are keeping each other company. I miss them both.”  On a slightly different note, Sleeping Beauty said, “Although this is a heartbreaking picture of the dog, this is also a heartbreaking picture of all the graves. So many lives were lost to this tragedy and we all need to be on our knees praying.”


China and American relations complicated


The increasingly competitive relationship between China and America came into focus with Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit to the United States.


CNN readers shared their concerns about exporting jobs and debt to China, but they also had strong opinions about which country they see rising to the top.   Descarado said, “In a recent comparison of high school students from 65 countries, the U.S. ranked 23rd in science and 31st in math. We are witnessing the ‘decline and fall’ of America in real time.” TripleA60 agreed: “China pretty much owns America. 1. China holds a majority of our debt. 2. China controls a major majority of all imports to America. If China outright boycotted America, our shelves would be empty before we even knew what hit us. If they called our debt, our money would be worthless. So we pretty much have to play ball with them and they know it. But RU4RealIM disagreed: “If they stopped exporting to the U.S., their economy would collapse even faster than ours. We would just buy more from South Korea, India etc.” And yruymihunose said, “They need us as bad as we need them.”


In a slightly different exchange, menahem53 said, “China’s rising star is temporary, so before you open the champagne, think of this: The One Child Policy will bring the country to its knees. I predict China is at the bottom by 2020. Enjoy the moment.” But Norm38 said, “Really? If a high birthrate equaled economic success, we'd all be ruled by Africa.”


Self immolation in North Africa


Like Mohamed Bouazizi, the 26-year-old who set himself on fire and sparked protests in Tunisia, other protestors are turning to self immolation in North Africa.


CNN readers had a range of reactions to the extreme acts of protest.  Skwisgaar said, “I am pretty sure you can do a lot more alive to make a difference than you can setting yourself on fire, but that is just me.” arkagene said, “If you need to protest, get a sign and march.” But SilasDaRock responded, “It works. You have read about it and have written about it. Regardless of whether you like the fact, he affected you.” Makemlaff said, “I can't imagine being so desperate as to set myself on fire. It's one thing to kill yourself, but it's another thing entirely to do it in one of the most painful, agonizing, disfiguring (if you happen to survive) ways imaginable.” goingby20s said, “ Putting your ideals before your body in order to achieve a greater good is a heroic act. Not everyone would understand the situation, but many Arab countries have unemployment rates of 30 % or more and it's even higher among the young people. That's why so many people seem to seek help in religious fundamentalism. Arab royals and elitists need to go.”


Thoughts? Post a comment below or sound off on video.


Compiled by the moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

Posted by: kgriggs // January 18, 2011
Posted in: comments
Come find us on Instagram! »


If you use social media at all, you've probably seen a ton of toy-camera-ish, too-cool-for-rectangles pictures "cropping" up lately. Many of those elegant little photos were created using Instagram, an extremely addictive mobile-only app for the iPhone that a few CNN iReport staffers have recently fallen in love with.


We started an account just for fun, mostly to share some of the precious moments we enjoy around our office. It's a running joke that we're the most-documented team in the newsroom, so this makes things a little easier for us.  Photos show everything from newsroom yoga to morning meetings to my surprisingly popular lemur beanie. We're starting to see that the whole thing is really catching on.


We like the ease of sharing, and the built-in filters are simply adorable. But the best part is the community members who've stopped by to say hello and drop some love or post a comment.


A warm shout-out goes to Instagram's very own Josh Johnson, who issued a challenge to post a photo of something red. We put up a red image of a CNN iReport logo, and Johnson spotted it and gave us a tip of the hat. He even posted a note about our account. Ever since then, we've seen our tight collective of followers grow by leaps and bounds. It's been fun to meet new people through these fun, quirky little squares on our phones.


If you have the Instagram app -- it's free -- we hope you'll track us down at username cnnireport to see our pictures. We'd love to see your images, too. You can also check out our team tumblr, where we post many of the images as well as lots of other goodies that inspire us. Sharing is caring, after all.


Now, we want to know: What sites and apps appeal most to you? Let us know where we can find you online in the comments area below.

Posted by:
// January 18, 2011
 3 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: community
Overheard on Gervais lays Golden eggs? »

Comment of the day: “Ricky was the turd in their [movie stars] smug little PC punch bowl.” –lee


Gervais funny or not?


Host of the Golden Globes for the second year in a row, actor and comedian, Ricky Gervais certainly pulled no punches Sunday night. From “famous Scientologists,” “Sex in the City” co-stars, and even God, it seemed anyone and anything was fair game. And while the jokes caused some tension in the room, most attendees said they thought he was a hit. So what about CNN readers? Most of them thought so, too.


RabiaDiluvio said, “It was pure genius. Bring him back a third time. He was the best part of the show! MeganKI agreed, “He was laugh out loud funny ... hard to watch a few times, but they knew what they were getting with him.” C Daubney said, “Thought Ricky Gervais was fantastic! Yes I did wince at a few of his comments but I quickly followed up with guttural laughter.”


CNN reader, Martin sparked an exchange among other readers with his opinion, “He was disgusting. I won't watch again if he is the host. Showed no respect at all! Isn't there an American who would be better? Jules replied, “Oh Martin. Did your celebrities get their feelings hurt? Just goes to show you: Americans put celebrities on too high of a pedestal.” And Eliza said, “Yes, I'm sure it would have been much more entertaining for those of us at home had we watched him blow smoke up the superior Hollywood elite's a&ses.”


CNN reader BJ took exception with Gervais: “Did not like it at all, especially his last remark: ‘Thanks to God, who made me an atheist.’” But Matthew said “Oh no! Not a religious joke! How dare he?!?! Come on, get real.”




Steve Jobs takes second leave


Citing a medical condition, Apple CEO Steve Jobs is taking a second leave of absence in as many years. News of his leave sparked comments about him and the company he’s created.


iseultabq said, “I admire this man so much. He has vision and taste.” Reader48 said, “Get well, Steve. You changed the world and made it better.” rsprings said “Steve Jobs is a genius. Hope he gets well fast.” Emastmagy said “Steve, you are the epitome of the saying: ‘You can't keep a good man down!’”


Some readers commented on how Apple will handle his absence. Seke2 said, “I hope he recovers. Apple can't be Apple without him.” Exxtraz said, “Hope he gets better soon, but I am sure Apple can function just fine.” ecibu33 replied, “Function yes, but thrive? No way."


Others complained that his leave shouldn’t make headline news. android10 said “Hope he's okay, but what if my dad's co-workers get medical leave? Does that mean they get to be on the news too?” CyberSafe said, “Yeah as soon as they create a multibillion dollar company with 25 percent market share and worldwide love, then they'll get press too.”




Oldest African-American dies


Mississippi “Sweetie” Winn, the oldest African-American, died last Friday in Shreveport, Louisiana, at the age of 113. Some CNN readers paid tribute to the never-married daughter of slaves while others took issue with the identification of her race in the story.


kristilee said, “It's mind boggling to think what this woman saw and experienced in her lifetime. What a beautiful thing life is!” Outland said, “I sure hope someone wrote down her experiences and life history. Just think of what she heard, saw and participated in. Wow.”


karbvi said, “Why didn’t CNN simply state ‘113 old American dies?’ Who cares if they are black, white or yellow? No wonder the USA is still racist.” And Outland said, “I would have still read the article if it was titled ‘113 year old person has died.’ After all, I'm not a hyphenated anything. I'm an American.” But Racheyray replied, “The history she personally experienced in 113 years as a black American woman certainly makes her race worth mentioning. She was born to slaves and died at a time when a black man was president. Amazing!” And NwHawk said, “Who would have thought, that a child born of slaves would live long enough to see a black man as president?I hope my children live long enough to see the day when race really doesn't matter anymore, then maybe we'll get somewhere.”



Do you feel your views align with these commenters' thoughts? Post a comment below or sound off on video.


Compiled by the moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

Posted by: kgriggs // January 17, 2011
 32 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: comments
Tunisia revolution: Personal accounts »

Demonstrations are continuing in Tunisia's capital, Tunis, after President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled the country Friday following weeks of protest. Nearly 80 people have died in the clashes over several weeks and 94 have been injured.


We’ve heard from Tunisians participating in the revolution, both in Tunisia and in the U.S., and their passion for change is palpable. While they celebrate Ben Ali’s ouster after 23 years of rule, tensions loom as the country waits to see what new government emerges.



Tunisians have protested for weeks over rising food prices, unemployment, government corruption and repression. Following Ben Ali’s ouster, demonstrators tore down massive billboards bearing his face, as captured by Marwan Guetari in Tunis on Saturday. Through a friend, Guetari said he had joined the throngs of protesters and welcomed the revolution.



Bassem Bouguerra, who lives in Northern California and has been mobilizing Tunisians there, has been getting updates on the revolution from his brother and other relatives living in Tunisia. His brother, Issam Bouguerra, shot the above photo of a “neighborhood watch” -- the people who are in charge of protecting their neighborhood from any remaining militia and policemen.


“I am online almost 18 hours a day talking to my family and friends back home,” he said. “We are protesting the dictatorship and not just the dictator. There are still people, who [are] key players in the dictatorship, in key positions in the new ‘transitional’ government.”



Tunisian-American Al Kallel posed with several Tunisian friends outside Facebook’s Palo Alto headquarters on Saturday. It was an expression of gratitude for Facebook, Twitter and other social-media sites that enabled young people in Tunisia to organize and share information, despite government censorship, he said.


“We wanted to thank Facebook for enabling our nation (both inside and outside the country) to freely share their opinion online, bridging our way to democracy,” Kallel wrote in an e-mail.


The personal perspective on what’s happening in Tunisia is a fascinating and valuable aspect of this story. We’d love to hear more about the situation from people on the ground. Are you there? Share your photos, videos and opinions with iReport.

Posted by: dsashin // January 17, 2011
 0 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: stories
Overheard on Sainthood and the pope »


Comment of the day: "People hate (dislike) what they don't understand." --Nebulazure


One story about the late Pope John Paul II was a big talker throughout two articles about his possible sainthood. A beatification ceremony, led by Pope Benedict XVI, will take place May 1, the first Sunday after Easter. Response to these pieces contrasted quite a bit: Mostly negative sentiments were seen in the main story, while an entry on CNN's Belief blog about the pope's significance in history received a whole different response.


In the former, commenters had heated conversations about the concept of sainthood, as well as Catholic doctrine and sex abuse scandals. Some spoke of leaving the faith. In the latter story, about the man himself, commenters shared stories of meeting the pope, and spoke mostly positively about the faith even if they were not believers themselves. The difference between the two stories' response could not be more striking.


Do people view the religion and the man differently? Do the two stories attract different audiences and commenting communities? We follow this with a look at parenting troubled children as well as the recent zodiac shakeup. Check out some of the things commenters had to say today:


John Paul II closer to sainthood


steelerguin said, "I respect the Catholic religion, but their designation and process of sainthood isn't Biblical. All who believe in Christ are considered saints according to the New Testament. Also, one should only pray to God not man (dead or alive) since that is idolatry. I do believe in miraculous healings because I have witnessed them. I believe it comes from God alone and not man."


Along a similar theme, mintymint said, "Even the doctors on the case of that congresswoman who was shot in the head acknowledge that some healing is beyond the medicine that they practice and cannot take credit for healing that cannot be explained by medicine."


thebeeman said, "This is just another reason I have left the Catholic faith. The pope is taking us back to the dark ages. He is out of touch with the young people. Past popes and priests covered up or were involved in molestation of boys. How can this be God's way? Churches need to pay taxes and admit to what has been covered up." nick2 said, "This is a reward for the efforts of John Paul II -- the most traveled Pope in history -- whose jaunts were primarily motivated for the constant business of collecting money. A very clever way of using what is essentially idolatry to overwhelm the simple minded with religious fervor."


In an interesting exchange, jinxgt posted, "I'm a protestant and will not judge the Catholic Church or their decisions. I choose to respect the establishment and its followers as fellow Christians. Although we practice our faith differently, ultimately we believe in the same God, follow the teachings of the same Jesus, and learn from the same Bible." gardiego responded, "I used to be a protestant when growing up, but now do not believe in any organized religion. Unlike you, I don't respect the Catholic Church and blame the church for thousands of deaths due to the unwillingness of the church to do whats right, and not what is written in a book a fables. Go ahead, continue to believe in your God. There may have been a Jesus, but he was not the son of God, because there is no God."


9 reasons Pope John Paul II mattered

CD6910 wrote, "He seemingly reflected Jesus in all that he was. Charismatic, intelligent, engaging, humble, loving, firm, devout, prayerful."

A couple of commenters shared memories of the pope. trish said, "I was in elementary school when he came to Vancouver and although there were 60,000 people in the stadium it seemed like he was connecting directly with you. It was a really strange feeling and one that has never left when I think about that day. While I have some issues regarding the Catholic doctrine today, I do not think you can take away from what a great man he was." JohnQuest said, "I was a young man when he visited New York, I still remember how people (Non-Catholics) admired him. Although I came from a non-believing family, I understand how some would be inspired by him."

There were some dissenters, like Silicon Valley, who said, "He may have done much good, but he continued the legacy of Paul VI being theologically stuck in the Middle Ages, betraying the spirit of the Second Vatican Council called by John XXIII to move the Church into the modern era. Had he allowed priests to marry and/or allowed women in the priesthood the abuse scandal would not have reached the proportions that it did. This was a step back for the RCC."

Catholic or not, many people expressed love for the pope. TheDandyMan wrote, "Absolutely the greatest pope in history! Saint Karol Wojtyla, you are one of the greatest men that ever lived. May you inspire billions more in your sainthood. Signed, a non-Catholic." ANON said, "He is one religious leader in the modern history who was and still is loved by the followers of many other religions. I'm a Muslim, and I love him. He practiced what he taught (tolerance, for example)."

Milton said, "The entire World used to love him. Regardless of religion, caste and country everyone admired him. I traveled myself nearly 40 countries and wherever go, people were talking very highly about Pope John II and Mother Teresa."

What if he were your kid?

In this case, "he" is Jared Lee Loughner, the suspect in the Arizona shootings. Families responded to this story and told us they thought it was a powerful look at what really goes on in a situation like this. What if, indeed? We heard lots of personal stories about battles with mental illness and lots of takes on what a concerned loved one should do and what hurdles the health care system may create. Check out this opinion piece from Joshua Coleman, and you'll find passionate responses, like from Blue2054:

"Even if he is mentally ill, the parents of an adult cannot have 100% control over him. They might be scared that he would harm himself but would never imagine(or want to imagine) him becoming a murderer. That's just how parents are. Love compels them to see the positive things in their child. They knew that he had drug problems, they knew that something was wrong with him. That was why the dad decided to inquire Jared about what was in the bag and cared enough to follow him. He was suspicious but I am sure he never thought that Jared was going to kill someone. I am probably too young to judge the parents but I wish they atleast took him to a psychiatrist or sent him to rehab after he was suspended. It's an unfortunate incident. What's even sadder is that the alleged main target is recovering but the 6 others around her had to die for no fault of theirs."

Belldandy112 said, "Easy answer. I would tell my child that his living in the family home was contingent on him remaining on medication; otherwise, he'd have to find another place to live. And, knowing his history, I would not give him the money to purchase drugs, a Glock, ammo, etc. Worked like a charm for a friend in the same popsition as this family."

sashlina liked the article: "It's amazing how many of us can point fingers and act like we have a doctorate in Know-it-allism when in fact the writer is clearly writing to the blinded society and NOT justifying what happened. Kudos to Coleman for sharing the lenses of we - the finger pointers. I can say that because my initial reaction was the same. In the end, it's not always possible to recognize the signs and/or stop evil from happening."

No, your zodiac sign hasn't changed

Starting to regret that dancing fish tattoo? "When [astrologers] say that the sun is in Pisces, it's really not in Pisces," Parke Kunkle, a board member of the Minnesota Planetarium Society, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

WHAT?! Well, wait a minute, Westerners generally adhere to the tropical zodiac, so maybe nothing's changed at all. That brings up the whole question of tropical and sidereal zodiacs, or whether this whole thing matters at all. Commenters went at it. Some were astrological devotees, some got lost in an endless sea of references to the very-similar-sounding astrology or astronomy, and quite a few simply thought the whole thing was a bunch of bunk. There were a lot of astrology skeptics on our comment boards, and a few of them said they were determined to prove that free will trumps the stars any day.

Among the seeming optimists were Jonathan, who wrote, "What a relief, I was worried there for a second that I wasn't who I thought I was all these years. I was afraid I'd have to learn a whole new personality. Which is really bad, because the signs on either side of me don't fit me at all." Julia was also relieved. "Thank you. I'm not a goal-setting, hard-working Capricorn and I knew it. I'm an aloof and eccentric Aquarius. Long live the Aquarians!"

Some thought perhaps the astrological system could be further refined. Aunt Linda took the time to pen a detailed explanation of the concepts at hand (omitted here) and concluded on this note: "The Babylonians designed a system of astrology that was as accurate as possible for their day. Wouldn't it make sense for modern astrologers to do the same?"

Joshua said, "'Fun and harmless.' Is that why there's people that won't leave their homes on days when their horoscope gives a bad outlook? Is that why people spend all their money going to astrologers to get their fortunes read? Astrology, tarot, etc, is all stupid B.S. that should be expunged from society, especially those astrologers that lie to their customers and tell them its real, when they know it to be fake." Neerav replied, "I agree, Joshua. The reality is, unless you believe in the idea of predestination, that you are in control of your destiny, and not what is told by the position of the stars and planets in an artificially (and arbitrarily) divided up sky. This year, I am challenging each and every yearly astrology forecast for my zodiac sign (Ariers) in order to prove once and for all that they are useless and have no relevance to how we live our lives or determine our destiny."

A fairly cynical hobart said, "I think someone should do a study with 1,000 subjects and three treatment groups: 1. tropical zodiac, 2. sidereal zodiac, and 3. a postmodern random essay generator. Each treatment group writes a horoscope for each subject, and at the end o of the day, we see which one wins. I bet it's a three-way tie."

this sucks said, "So can I continue to blast the soundtrack for HAIR from my car or do I need to buy a new CD because of all of this?" Bob replied, "You should get a new CD because the music in Hair sucks, not because its inaccurate."

In a follow-up story, we received even more heated comments:

RabiaDiluvio said, "Breaking news: we just discovered that the Easter Bunny might be brown instead of white and Santa wears yellow and black sweaters on the weekend." Doomguy said, "What a pile of crap. The fact that your sign can shift over the centuries is just more proof that astrology is a fantasy. In fact, some of the stars in the actual constellations themselves have moved since astrology was dreamed up. Please people ... this is the 21st century. Can we move past invisible boogey men, fiery pits and pitchforks and the layout of stars in the sky somehow controlling your life?" neptuneguy said, "If you are that concerned about your zodiac sign, then this may actually change your identity. For the rest of the world, you might as well worry about changing your underwear." LastLegUp said, "A quarter of a million Americans believe in astrology? That's really depressing."

YOUR TURN: Now that you've read what other people are saying, do you find that your views align with theirs? Think of this as a wishing well in need of your 2 cents. Post a comment below or sound off on video

Compiled by the moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

Posted by:
// January 14, 2011
 51 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: comments
Snow in 49 states »

Update: As of Saturday, we received a few iReports from Oregon, rounding out the map of all the snowy states! Congrats to everyone for representing their state!


With snow storms that churned from the Northern Plains to the southern states, we were interested to learn earlier this week that 49 of the 50 states had snow on the ground.


iReport loves a challenge, so we set out to collect and showcase photos from all 49 of the snow-covered states. Within just a few days, we had heard from all but one -- Oregon.


We were beginning to wonder if all the snow in Oregon had melted, but CNN meteorologists assured us Friday afternoon that there was still plenty of the white stuff in the Cascade Mountain Range as well as much of the eastern part of the state. In fact, Crater Lake was reporting a whopping 88 inches on the ground.


Meanwhile, we’re told that Louisiana’s snow has melted, which explains why it was so hard for us to find photographic evidence. The closest we came was Todd Walker’s photo, shot Monday, of his 9-year-old son catching snowflakes in his mouth.


Thanks to everyone who participated. Be sure to check out the map of snow across the U.S. -- it's fun to see the wintery images from iReporters all over the country. And, Oregon, if you’re out there, send us your photos!

Posted by: dsashin // January 14, 2011
 0 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: stories
Overheard on 'Golden Voice' Ted Williams heads to rehab »


Photo: Ted Williams became famous for being the homeless man with the remarkable voice.


COMMENT OF THE DAY: "It's like a train wreck that was wrecked when everyone first saw it. Then it got back on track, now it's wrecking again. Enjoy the show." --happyhiker


The story of the homeless man with the "golden voice" has taken a little bit of a twist, and readers are practically on the edge of their seat following the new developments. Ted Williams has voluntarily checked into rehab for alcohol and drug dependency, which came after "a lengthy one-on-one conversation with Dr. Phil [McGraw]," a spokesman for "The Dr. Phil Show" said Wednesday.


Check out readers' response to this and other stories on


'Golden voice' Ted Williams admits drinking, heads to rehab


Commenters talked a lot about how fame changes a person, and also the ways that it doesn't. jeffmg said, "Good for Ted. I hope he can get the help he needs and I'm pulling for this guy to become one of the best comeback stories ever." But ranmic said what many others also were thinking: "Looks like this guy is not what everyone thought, eh? If anyone is surprised by this, they need their head examined."


LeeInOceansi said, "There's a lot of us out here with great voices. I used to be on the radio in the '70s doing shticks with Rick Dees but eventually took another direction in life. Since that destination is now gone how I would love to be rediscovered and given the opportunity to work using my voice again. This Ted Williams was given the 'instant golden key' and he is fortunate. He needs to clean his act up and deal with the instant fame and he will be on his way again in life. I cleaned up my act 12 years ago. Clean as a whistle all the way. However my attempts to get back in the business have been futile. I may not have 'the' golden voice but mine is pretty darn good."


Many wrote about Williams' family, with many questioning their motives after Williams' publicity. mizeryone said, "Now that fame is at his feet, his family's interested more in his financial earnings than his recovery."


CHHoosier said, "In most people's eyes, this guy's life was out of control, but now he is a star in the media and is being run by the people. Who has control of his life now? I hope the best for him."

Services held for youngest victim of Arizona mass shootings


The Tucson, Arizona, shooting continues to light up comment boards. A night after  President Obama's speech at a memorial on the University of Arizona campus, the services for 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green broke many, many readers' hearts. Some thought of their own children, and some were overcome with grief.


wallster said, "I honestly can't think of anything as heartbreaking as this story. If this doesn't put your life into perspective I don't think there's anything that will. It's so sad that it takes the loss of this wonderful little girl for us to stop and realize how blessed we are. My deepest condolences to the Green family, may you find strength from Christina's spirit in your time of grief."


lovemyFloyd said, "Oh my God, this is just too sad for words. I cannot even imagine the grief and emptiness her parents feel. May God help them through their tremendous sorrow, one day at a time."


Some referenced Green's birthday, which was September 11, 2001. One commenter went so far as to compare her to Neda, a slain woman who came to symbolize the horror of violence during protests in Iran. joewood1 wrote, "This little girl is going to be remembered, I think -- and should be -- by our country, much in the way Neda was and should be in Iran. Both were innocent, beautiful creatures, gunned down for the stupidest and most evil of reasons, and are huge losses to our collective future, as most innocent lives cut down are. But the fact that this little girl symbolizes in a way the tragedy not only of Tucson, but of 9/11 and the innocents cut down on that day, makes her an icon at 9 years old we should shower with love. Instead of focusing on celebrity, we should celebrate the goodness around us, found in ordinary yet extraordinary flickers of hope like Christina Green."


brianwaz was one of many who talked about punishments for the killings. "Honestly, I think one thing that we are not taking away from this is that this is the first time in a long time that something like this has happened and the perpetrator was caught alive. It's about time one of these scumbags will finally have to face the music."


Obama: 'The hopes of a nation are here tonight'


We also received lots of feedback about Obama's speech at the McKale Center in Tucson. Commenters debated whether the president was taking advantage of the situation for his own political gain. Overall, most people said it was not a politicized event, but there were a few who said it was.


Here's an excerpt from a thoughtful comment by douglaswv: "To those who felt inspired by our president's words, I wonder how you would feel if 72 hours after one of your loved ones was killed, a politician used a memorial event to try to make political hay? Those who praise our president for returning to the Obama of the campaign trail are confirming what I believed when I saw him speak: This was all about politics."


baboons responded, "You either didn't watch the speech, or watched wearing those rose colored glasses you have. There was no political 'grandstanding' other than the president, who is a political figure, giving the speech. I felt that the tributes did just what you said you want at your funeral: They celebrated the lives of these people."


RobertFTL wrote, "I think President Obama's speech was what the country needed. Anyone who disagrees that civility is lost has been living in a bubble." But leadyourself wrote, "Until Obama changes his ideology of expanding government over its citizens, I don't care what he has to say about anything. Same soup, different bowl."


Gliese581g said, "Just because you are a politician and make a speech does not mean it is a Political Speech. OK? Can we just clarify that right now?" Realist1981 wrote, "Agreed. As a conservative I thought President Obama was on point and delivered a great speech focusing on the humanity of the tragedy and equally reminding us to not use tragedy as a reason to divide us and point fingers for no reason. However, just because I liked his speech and thought it was appropriate doesn't change my opinion on his administration's polices, but like you said that's not the point. I think people on both sides have forgot you can like someone as a person or a specific event and still differ in political opinion without hate and angst."


YOUR TURN: Now that you've read what other people are saying, do you find that your views align with theirs? Think of this as a wishing well in need of your 2 cents. Post a comment below or sound off on video.


Compiled by the moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

Posted by:
// January 13, 2011
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Posted in: comments
CNN iReport roundtable: Thursday at 3 p.m. ET »

Please join us here for our weekly roundtable discussion. We've almost dug out from Atlanta's "Snowpacolypse 2011" and we're looking forward to talking with you.


We had a lot of great successes together last year like Weekend Assignment, CNN iReport boot camp, and Katrina then and now to name just a few. We also reached our goal of hearing from iReporters in every country in the world.


We're off to a great start in 2011 with the snow in 49 states challenge, and now we want to hear your ideas for some cool new projects we can try.


Comments will open at 3 p.m. ET and we'll talk with you then.

Posted by:
// January 13, 2011
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Posted in: community
Documenting the flooding in Australia »

Residents in Queensland, Australia, are beginning to assess the damage caused by the worst flooding in decades. Though floodwaters have begun to recede, authorities say the clean-up from what they've called an "inland tsunami" could take months. The death toll rose to 15 Thursday, with 70 people still missing, and more than 20,000 homes were inundated with water.


iReporters in and around Brisbane, the state capital, have been documenting the flooding and shared photos of the devastation:


Skye Reeve, who lives in Brisbane, was shocked to see so many areas affected by the flooding Wednesday. "Power is down in many parts of the city, mass evacuations are now necessary and the relentless river is pushing our amazing rescue workers to their limits," she said.



Queensland's premier soccer venue, Suncorp Stadium, was submerged in three feet of water, as seen in this photo shot Wednesday by Mairead McKinnon. The stadium also caught fire Thursday when the rising flood waters short-circuited a generator box, according to news reports.


People used boats and canoes to cross flooded roads, said Mark Ignativ, who shot this photo in Gailes, a suburb of Ipswich, Queensland. "Houses are flooded in low lying areas, and parks have been turned into lakes."


Our hearts go out to those affected, and we’re hoping for a speedy recovery. If you're in one of the flooded areas, we'd like to know how you are faring. Please share photos and videos if it is safe to do so.

Posted by: dsashin // January 13, 2011
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Overheard on Florida is frozen, too »

Read more about this storySee map | Add photos and videos from your state to the map


COMMENT OF THE DAY: "C'mon Florida! Get with it. We need a perfect 50!" --shnawky1


Today is a big news day as yours truly sits at a keyboard working from home during Atlanta's deepest of recent deep freezes. So many big stories are happening: snowstorm coverage and the anniversary of the Haiti earthquake that devastated so many a year ago, on top of the Arizona shooting and Australia flooding. Given all of that, one of most-viewed stories by far is a story about "Ghostbusters III." Those of us stuck at home with cabin fever could probably use a shot of ectoplasm to wake up.


We have an eclectic selection of comments here, just a sample from the sheer number of stories coming across the wires. We'll kick it off with Floridians' impassioned response about being the one state out of 50 without snow on the ground. Check out what readers had to say about this and other stories:


Snow present in 49 of the 50 states


The snowy deep freeze is everywhere, and it seems no one is immune, except perhaps Floridians. They're the only state without snow on the ground right now. Even an idyllic vacation mecca like Hawaii has snow up on the peaks. But many residents of the Sunshine State took offense to the thought that they might be basking in the rays. While some told us of their enjoyable weather, many wrote to say that parts of the state do get cold.


Take Tallahassee. rightso said, "Even though there may not be snow here in florida, I will say that it is frigid. I live in Tallahassee and from what I can see, I don't think there is any way that anyone would want to go on a vacation to florida right now. South florida might be warm but don't get it twisted. Not all of the sunshine state is soakin' up the rays right now." Floridian responded, "Yes, but Tallahassee is really not Florida. It is south Georgia, just like everything north of Orlando. Nothing wrong with it, but Florida really should be split into two considering the differences between north Florida and (southern) Florida.


Some said Florida has had some snow this season. Bren wrote, "I was speaking with a friend from Marianna, Florida, the other day who told me about a few times already this year that he has seen snow and flurries in and around the Jackson County, Florida, area. It seems that not even Florida escaped the snow and this storm is batting a thousand if it was trying to hit every state, haha." Hannah said, "I live in Tallahassee as well, and from what I hear there were snow flurries on Christmas Eve. The current temperature is actually 30 degrees, so North Florida is getting the cold winter weather. My family who lives in Tampa, however, is enjoying weather in the 50s and 60s this week. I'm slightly jealous." randy said, "I live in Orlando and it's supposed to be 32 in the morning. Just because there's no snow don't mean it's not cold!"


Besides that angle, we heard lots of commentary on climate change. Is there global warming, or isn't there? And what is global warming anyway? Commenters hashed out this hairy question many times over. It always seems to come up whenever we start talking about unusual weather patterns.


Most have homes, but some Haitian orphans still in shelters


Readers were outraged about a story detailing how, a year after the earthquake that rocked Haiti, some orphans who were rescued and taken to the United States still remain in shelters instead of homes.


"They are confused, they feel rejected, they wonder what's going to happen to them and whether they are ever going to be with a family as they were promised," said Michelle Abarca, a lawyer with the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center, which is representing some of the children who were taken to Miami.


Readers talked about Haiti's ongoing problems and the United States' involvement in the country's future.


practical46 said, "I wish our county and politicians cared as much for people as they do for the military-industrial congressional complex. I wish people would look around and realize that this life is short and we must do our best to help each other -- we are all in this together. Lets stop the wars and invest in people and the planet. Do you hear this Obama and other leaders who are focused on their own agendas? If the Republicans want to put on a good face, they will cut the military budget and renew their commitment to our people and other nations who need infrastructure, education, health care, etc."


Other commenters felt hopeless about the situation. ohyeaaaahh said, "Haiti needs to want to change. Nobody can force them to change. It's a sad situation, but there isn't much anyone can do except keep dumping money there."


Some asked why more attention isn't being paid to American orphans. Orge asked, "Why don't we as a nation start doing right by our fellow Americans and stop worrying about every other nation's poor and orphaned?" roy0001 said, "Time to take care of our own orphans and hungry. Help was always appreciated very little by the third world and taken as an insult many times. I'm not talking only about Haiti."


But Chickenz said, "An orphan is an orphan. Does it really matter where that orphan was born? Deanna19 wrote, "I for one value a childs life whether its in our own backyard or across the ocean. It doesn't matter what continent they're from."


'Ghostbusters III' a no-go without Bill Murray


Ivan Reitman's planned entry to the "Ghostbusters" franchise has one holdout: Bill Murray, aka Peter Venkman. Readers speculated about what might be holding Murray back and who would be able to step into such a role if that came to pass. Response was passionate and interesting, so a few inches are devoted to the discussion here:


Stephanie started a thread when she wrote, "This movie should have been done years ago. They're old, pudgy and Bill Murray has grown surly over the years. I can't even imagine them trying to run through the streets chasing ghosts. I loved the first one, was okay with the second one, but I think the third one won't be good. They waited too late." But those like Adam disagreed: "Wow they have not even shot one foot of film and you are going to say it's not going to be good. How many books have to you read by looking at the cover by the way?"


But SKSK came back in: "I have to agree. Sort of like pushing Harrison Ford to keep playing Indiana Jones even though he's almost 70. Even with that being said, I'd still go see it, just like I'll go and see every Indiana Jones movie they make. Even if it sucks." hater said, "I'd bet a million dollars that they bring in that Shia LaBeouf guy like in indiana Jones and completly ruin the franchise for me." Or, maybe the age thing doesn't matter. Spiza said, "I believe they are supposed to be mentors to a new team, or actually ghosts mentoring a new team." Tyler Smith said, "If Bill Murray did Zombieland, he should have no reason to do this movie."


banasy said, "Bill Murray can pick and choose his movie roles now, or never star in them again, if he so chooses. It's never a good idea (to me, anyway) to resurrect a sequel 25 years later. The movie-going bunch nowadays don't really care and it's not worth it to make a movie that goes straight to video. The people I talked to about this would rather wait for the video anymore, so I think it wouldn't be worth the expense of making GB3. And it will be expensive; imagine the effects costs 25 years later! But it would be cool!" Frank said, "It is not Ghostbusters without Murray! I hope he will do it, I love Bill Murray."


Finally, we had a lot of readers sharing quotes and references to the Ghostbusters pantheon. bert said, "It is Dr. Venkman, please give him the respect he deserves." Kathy retorted, "Yeah, back off man, he's a scientist."


YOUR TURN: Now that you've read what other people are saying, do you find that your views align with theirs? Think of this as a wishing well in need of your 2 cents. Post a comment below or sound off on video.


Compiled by the moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

Posted by:
// January 12, 2011
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CES' glimpse into future of gadgetry »


The Consumer Electronics Show is an annual geek tradition, as thousands descend upon Las Vegas, Nevada, for a weekend of sweet devices in a city usually known for its vices. It's the Big Kahuna of gadget gatherings, but mostly industry insiders get to go each year. The rest of us must be content with observing from the outside.


We wanted to do something different and fun to involve everyone in CES this year, so we decided to use a special Twitter account, @cnnireportPRJCT, to have a real-time chat and funnel our findings together with CNN's. It was an experiment, and we truly learned a lot from talking to everyone; iReporters and Twitter users had some great analysis. Our tech folks narrowed down five of the convention's big ideas, from 3-D and Android tablets to celebrities and gimmicks. The futurism and creativity really got our imaginations going. So, let's take a look at iReporters' perspectives on consumer electronics:


Mobile phones
We put out the question: What will phones look like in 20 years? Twitter and iReport user Steve Garfield wrote and said "In 20 years there will be no phones." We asked him to explain in greater detail and he said, "I hardly use my iPhone for voice calls. I think devices will have voice capabilities, but they won't be primarily phones for voice." Twitter user @rmpenguino added to this thread, "Voice communication technology will be incorporated into every device as a secondary function." Some of our other iReport friends chimed in via Twitter, like Kathi Cordsen of Fullerton, California, who predicts smaller devices: "It will be as small as a button, something you you could clip on your lapel." Progress, she says. On the other hand, Jason Asselin of Iron Mountain, Michigan, said he has a basic phone and can only imagine what will happen. "What will phones look like 20 years from now? I have a simple prepaid phone, I can only imagine they will be touch screen."


This year, Android devices were some of the most valuable commodities at CES. "I love my Android-powered phone," wrote @czautcke. "Has the apps I find I need to use it for productivity." @EJ1969 said, "I like the Droid OS and am looking for an iPad competitor." He said he was interested in the HTC Scribe and other Android tablets. Android tablets such as the Motorola Xoom were one of the most talked-about things there.


Tablet computing
Tablets are hot, as evidenced by the interest in the iPad. @beyrouti asked about iPad 2 cases that may have been spotted at CES. Our tech reporters were working on a story about the rumors, so it all worked out. iReporter Steve Mussey, a doctor from Fredericksburg, Virginia, said he was looking for a tablet device with pen that he could use in his office. Mussey skewered tablet technology (and 3-D as well) in short cartoons he put together and submitted to CNN iReport. Meanwhile, his son, Andrew, known as @CESLive2011, was on the hunt for Android everything.


Microsoft products
Windows 7's operating system for mobile devices made an appearance, and was promoted by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. From reading the tweets, one gets the feeling that Android and Apple were stealing the show. @AntwoneLopezwrote, "I don't like Microsoft products," and followed up to say, "because they are not attractive for me. Interface, logo, typography. In general, they seem to be products for bored people." @albert80 said, "I love the Xbox and the Kinect, but the Windows phone is not my fave. I use an iPhone. ... Yes I prefer Apple products a little more but I have had a little itch to try the Android phones." @markgimenez listed a bunch of Apple products he owns and said, "Microsoft computers are becoming obsolete."


Three dimensions

3-D technology is a hot topic of conversation, and we wanted to see what people think about it. We aren't sure yet, but there seemed to be some inclinations that people think it's campy and fun, or at least it's being marketed that way. iReporter Jon Regas told us he is a passionate 3-D enthusiast and sent us images of his Viewmaster collection through the years via Twitter. Meanwhile, at the convention, Sony held a keynote presentation about 3-D devices and also some gaming, and brought a lot of attention with an Elvis impersonator for the King's 75th birthday. iReporter Zennie Abraham of Oakland, California, took a look at the Sony Bloggie 3-D camera, which he described as "very impressive." Meanwhile, Chris Morrow of San Diego, California, spotlighted the Elvis impersonator before going on to investigate tablet devices.


Texting (and tweeting) machines

In response to the concept of tweeting and texting appliances that came up several times at CES, we asked what devices people think should or should not be able to send out messages. Creative people answered the call. Twitter user @SonnySteelGrave wrote back, "a phone should be designed for diabetics; should be able to test their sugars with the phone and send their results." iReporter Cordsen joked, "I would NOT want my coffee maker tweeting, why, because then people would know how late I get up in the morning." Twitter user Miguel4000 suggested this power be given to "my (oven), telling me my roast beef is done."


Ye olde personal computer
iReporter Bernardus Stroomer lamented about the complexities of the modern personal computer, and even posted an iReport about it. Twitter user @apple_fangirl cited her HP Touchsmart 300 touchscreen computer as a device that could use improvement. "It's just buggy. Random shutdowns, slowdowns. Love my MacBook Pro, though." Andrew Mussey, the Android enthusiast, said he tracked down a Motorola Atrix 4G phone that converts into a "webtop" by docking into a computer shell.


What do you think?
After reading all this, what do you think about these ideas and predictions? What devices drive you crazy, and what trends would you like to see unfold? Share your vision for the gadget-crazy future in the comments area below.

Posted by:
// January 11, 2011
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Posted in: stories, community
Overheard on Verizon and Apple shake on it »


Quote of the day: “Who cares? Real life is right there in front of you, not on an app with a 5 by 3 inch screen.” --Ficheye2


Verizon to offer iPhones


It’s official: Beginning in February, Verizon will carry Apple’s iPhone. And now that fantasy has become reality, smartphone users are buzzing with anticipation. Many are wondering if Verizon’s network is really that much stronger, when to make the switch, and how much it’s going to cost. tech reporter Mark Milian broke it all down, and readers expressed strong opinions about the news.


Many readers were excited about the option. Loki42 said, “I used to have Verizon and loved the coverage. I have hated the AT&T coverage (just this weekend I was in the Sierra, unable to make a call, while yet again my Verizon friends could just fine).” RainWind said, “I'd take Verizon over AT&T any day. I used to be a Centennial Wireless customer, then AT&T bought them out. That was a sad day. But where I live Verizon is hands down the best for reception and data.” Choconet64 added, “Not every new iPhone customer to Verizon will be former AT&T customers. Many current Verizon customers have been waiting for this event to finally happen.” Cleveland 123 said, “Reality is hard to deny. Apple came up with a product that everyone wants and finally got around to dealing with the carrier that everyone wants. And, people will be lining up for it.”


Despite the buzz, many readers were less than thrilled. Lorenzoid said, “CDMA is unusable in Europe. No thanks. What I really want is an unlocked iPhone that I can use all over the world by plugging in a local SIM card.”  bot123 said, “Verizon will lock down iPhone features, just as it has all the other phones Verizon users have. Why switch to a carrier that will do that?” concisekwill said, “If the iPhone is such a great phone why doesn’t it allow you to expand the memory without buying a new phone? I'll stick with AT&T and my blackberry thank you.” Alucinanto said, “I wouldn't give Verizon my business if they paid me for it.” Dobieden said, “Ya'll can keep your iPhones and Droids. I've tried them. I'll stick with Blackberry, but I sure would give anything to get away from Verizon. Their customer service sucks!”


President Obama traveling to Tucson


President Barack Obama will travel to Arizona on Wednesday in the wake of the weekend shooting that left six people dead and 14 wounded. readers, including some who live in Arizona, welcome the president’s visit.


RAY said, “I respect president Obama's decision to ‘be there,’ representative of the American people for the families of those who are suffering great loss. May God bless those hurting people. We are still the greatest nation on the face of the Earth.” Nadeem said, “Thank you Mr. President. I saw the interview with the little girl’s parents today. They were very touched by your call and words. Let's come together as a nation. Unity.” Anthony said, “I think what President Obama is doing in visiting the families of the victims is just the right thing to do. Although his visit won't bring them back, it does go a long way in showing the families that America has a heavy heart for them. I just hope that the media or anyone else doesn't make a political statement (positive or negative) out of this, it's not the time.” Laurie said, “Thank you, President Obama for coming to Tucson to assist in the healing. We appreciate it.” Rk said, “Good for him. Regardless of what anyone thinks about the president's political ideology, one of the nicest things about him is that he has plenty of class, is culturally sensitive, and knows how to reach out to people. I deeply respect that about him, and think it was very appropriate of him to reach out to the victimized families in this way.” Spike5 said, “A President of the United States has many roles. He's leader of our nation, he's the leader of his political party and he's the public face of the country in times of sorrow. I'm glad President Obama is representing all of us in this way.”


But a few CNN readers expressed concern about his visit. M Best said, “Under heavy, heavy security I hope. Be careful Mr. President.”


Flooding disaster in Australia


After two weeks of torrential rain in Australia and a tsunami-like flash flood, three-quarters of the state of Queensland has been declared a disaster zone. readers living in the area, and others who have family or friends there or used to live there themselves, posted comments.


prodmod wrote, “Friends in Brisbane in Fortitude Valley have flown down to Sydney to escape the flooding. Unfortunately, not everyone is in a position to do that. The weather here is incredibly eerie. Sydney has been catapulted out of a terrible, years-long drought into complete saturation.” PDXSerric said, “To my friends and family in OZ, and to everyone suffering through this, please be safe and take care. Hopefully the worst is over.” CommenCentz said, “I used to live in West End. Hopefully, this disaster will not be as bad as anticipated.” amc100 shared, “I live in Taringa 4km from the city centre of Brisbane. It is 5:00am and I have never heard this city so quiet. The rain has stopped and now the water is coming. I saw a great picture today of a small green frog catching a ride on the back of a snake in the floods. We are all going to have to work like that over the next few days, helping each other out as much as we can.”


More alarming posts included one from Australian94, who said, “Hi, I’m Australian and thanks for all your support, but tonight its going to be worse as two main rivers will peak and they will reach and causing a super strong wave will come down and reach Brisbane making the floods therefore catastrophic. So please. We need countries help as the death toll rises.” And OzMatt said, “Of the nine people confirmed dead, four are children. Two died when they were swept away along with one or both of their parents. A boy died when he was swept from his house. More than 70 people are missing. The rain is now heading down my way!”


But BrisEcho relayed, “As someone in Brisbane right now, I'd like to say a few things. Infrastructure is still in place and functioning. Military search and rescue is being performed by Australian and New Zealand troops. International aid has been offered by the USA, but also by many countries in the Asia Pacific including China, East Timor, Indonesia and even Sri Lanka. We are warm, safe and well. Many people have been safely evacuated and a lot of us are feeling very hopeful in spite of everything. There are families grieving and worried tonight, but we're taking care of each other.”

Posted by: kgriggs // January 11, 2011
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Overheard on National tragedy in Arizona »



Quote of the day: Wow! Real heroes don't need guns!  --DrBombayo


Bystanders wrestle gunman to the ground

Seconds after Jared Loughner opened fire at a Safeway in Tucson, Arizona on Saturday several people tackled and subdued the gunman, including a man who had been grazed in the head. Their quick action likely prevented more loss of life and injuries and many CNN readers praised them.


Ayanzo said, “The man who grabbed the gun and got grazed by a bullet in doing so…that took a lot of courage.”  AjaDiamond said, “These people are truly heroes. We would all like to think that given the same situation, we would act in a similar manner. I can only tell you that I came face to face with an unarmed burglar in my home, and I was almost frozen in terror. loriey said “To make a snap decision to put your own life on the line in order to save another's life is true courage. It's not about being a hero, it's about what is truly important in life, helping other in a time of their greatness need. All those involved have shown courage and love for others.”  Phosphofruct said, “The people described and interviewed in this story should be commended for their bravery. Many more lives may have been lost and the shooter probably would not be alive allow us to learn more about why this happened, assuming he ever talks. We owe any understanding we gain for the rationale for this tragedy to these brave people.”


Some readers were surprised that, considering Arizona’s lenient gun laws that the gunman wasn’t shot by someone. disgirl said “I do NOT understand why no one shot this guy. I've lived in Arizona and Texas. Guess what? They carry more firearms openly in Arizona. My poor Texan husband thought a record store on Mill Ave was being held up because some of the patrons were discussing guns and had them out. pingpaul said “Just wonder how many people in the audience had concealed handguns. Why did they not react?” and 113162 added, “I wonder ‘where did all the gun-totin’ Arizonans go?’ I expected the perp to be met with a hail of bullets.”


And finally a few readers said it’s encouraging to see more citizens taking action in crisis situations.  rmtaks said, “In a story several weeks ago, a woman tried to knock a hostage taker's gun away. This guy got wrestled to the ground by a crowd. I'm glad people are getting over their bystander syndrome and concern only for self-preservation. It is this spirit that makes our country great, not calculated moves for our personal benefit. I wish our politicians would get on the bandwagon.”


Shooting spurs debate over rhetoric


The shooting events on Saturday are also sparking a national debate about how hate-filled rhetoric is treated by politicians, the media and the general population and CNN readers had plenty to say about the matter.


Some readers saw this controversy as a problem for both parties, although others didn’t. Heythomas said “The recent practice of debate is to repeat a lie long enough to make it sound true. A lie has no place in political debate, but we allow it. The recent election was a disgrace on both sides of the aisle and why do they sit on opposite sides of the aisle?” Guest said “Our politics have been mean, hateful, accusatory, inciting and violent for the past few years on both sides. Now our politicians are worried and want security from the whackos they have inspired. What idiots. Did they not see this coming?!” richunix said “I served in the U.S Army and after 21 years, two wars and three campaigns (two of which were combat tours) I believe in the United States and support both parties, however I refuse to give in to political rhetoric that breeds hate (both sides).  Scieng said, “If we want a rational discussion, we have to begin with rational ideas, and discuss them. The constant stream of hate we have seen from the left—and the far right, just makes rational discussion harder to hear. “ But momomiester  disagreed, “No jobs, a communist country funding our debt while taking our jobs, a war in which there is no defined goal, out-of-control government intrusion and debt and we are supposed to "tone things down" due to some mentally ill wacko? I think not. The stakes are too high.”


Girl born 9/11 dies in shooting


While many comments reflect plenty of disagreement and finger-pointing, CNN readers all agreed that the loss of nine-year old Christina Taylor Green, who was born September 11, 2001, was tragic.


sol740 said “When I read Mr. Green's words about choking back tears upon realizing his daughter would not be there to wake him, that's exactly what I had to do, choke back tears. I am not a religious man, so I cannot pray for your family, Mr. Green, but you are in my thoughts and millions of others. “ sfsocla said “What a tremendous loss for the child, parents and other family members. May peace bless you all.” Theanalyzer said  “She was born on such a tragic day and she died in such a tragic way! I pray everyone sees this as an eye opener to where our country is headed. We have to learn to compromise before it’s too late. God bless little Christina and her family. mknight33 said “I have a nine- year-old little girl. Makes me so sad for this little girl and her family. She took a bullet for crying out loud.” And snowyowl  said “Farewell Christina. I wish you were here. I think the world needs bright little girls like you right now. We so-called grown-ups aren't doing a very good job with things. In fact we've really messed things up. Rest in peace.”


Some CNN readers had a problem with the 9/11 connection while others supported it. CAL08 said, “The fact that she was born on 9/11 shouldn't be part of this story. Thousands of people were born that day all around the world. When they pass on, we don't need to use that fact to remind us of the tragedies that have occurred in the past. This one was sad enough.  We don't need to tie them together.” Karenforyou said, “This child’s birthday on 9/11 with her story in a book called, Faces of Hope based on the babies born during the 9/11 terrorist attack and her death by this monster in Tucson brought chills down my spine. Love to the Gifford's family and the victim’s families. I am so sorry.”

Posted by:
// January 10, 2011
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Posted in: comments
Snow day in Atlanta »

It was a snow day in Atlanta, Georgia, the city that CNN iReport calls home. Up to six inches of snow fell in parts of Georgia, while double-digit snowfall was reported in Tennessee and Mississippi. Winter-hardy northerners may be scoffing at us right now, but  this much snowfall is rare enough in the South that iReporters soaked in the fun while they could.


Susan Zepko of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, sent video of her daughter and her neighbor's son jumping on a snowy trampoline. She said usually the area sees rain, not snow.


"They were just running around in the front yard and trying to find some fun things to do, since we don't have a sledding hill. So they said, 'Let's go jump on the trampoline and jump in the snow,'” Zepko recalled.


With the snow, ice and sleet creating major hazards for drivers, lots of folks left their cars in the driveway and opted for more creative forms of transportation. Aaron Greenwood of Atlanta, Georgia, watched people skiing down his street all night Sunday and joked, “Whoever said Atlanta doesn't have great skiing?”


Meanwhile, families came up with innovative sledding techniques. In Huntsville, Alabama, Matt Reid laughed when he saw a neighbor pulling his child on a sled with a lawnmower, while Virginia Hawkins of Decatur, Georgia noticed a sledder pass by on a kayak. In Chickamauga, Georgia, Daniel Ball was excited to film an all-terrain vehicle pulling a jon boat full of kids down the snowy road.


The snow was fun for photographers, too. Many were overjoyed to go outside with their cameras and document something that doesn't happen every day, or even every year. Here are some of the great snapshots iReporters sent to show how they were enjoying their snowy holiday:



Neal Piper of Mabelton, Georgia, made this giant snow angel scene while his girlfriend directed the action from up on a balcony on Sunday.



As the snow began to pile up on Sunday night, David Rein shot this photo of people having fun in the Virginia Highlands neighborhood of Atlanta.



Cody Wellons wandered around Grant Park, a historic neighborhood near downtown, and took this picture Monday morning after the snow had fallen, contrasting beautifully with the shadows of the trees.


If it's snowing near you, we hope you're bundled up and warm wherever you are. If you happen to venture out for a look at the snow, share your photos and videos on CNN iReport. Just remember to be safe.


Finally, how's the weather near you? Ever had to deal with snowflakes en masse? Most of us are relatively new to this, and we think it'd be interesting to hear any tips or thoughts you have to share on how to stay warm and make it through cold days like this without getting cabin fever.

Posted by:
// January 10, 2011
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Posted in: stories
Overheard on Lady Gaga shows off her gadgets at CES »


COMMENT OF THE DAY:  "Hmmm, just because she sings she can now design technology. Probably a movie career coming up soon and her own cereal." --AussieBrad81


Lady Gaga created buzz at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, when she appeared to announce a new line of cameras and photo printers with Polaroid, where she is officially the "creative director." To say that the discussion got colorful, like the singer herself, is a bit of an understatement. That said, nothing about Lady Gaga is understated.


Check out what readers had to say about this and other stories on


Lady Gaga: I carry a photo printer in my purse


Polaroid's Grey Label product line, which isn't available yet, will feature sunglasses with a camera embedded in them, a camera that shoots digital and Polaroid images and a portable photo printer that Gaga says she takes to bars with her -- in her purse. Some commenters said she's got more, um, nerd cred than most people would think. windrider2 said, "She's actually been designing technology all along. A lot of the technology used in her shows was designed by her and her (team). The glasses are an evolution of something she designed and used three years ago. She really is a nerd."


But admdelta said, "Lady Gaga is Polaroid's creative director? Never buying from them again." PurplePlanet said, "The sunglasses are ridiculous! They go down to your lips? That is just bizarre. Polaroid will lose a lot of money on those because no one will buy them!" Also, Valea said, "I do not care what Lady Gaga carries in her purse."


VIStringHero defended Lady Gaga. "I'm not a fan of hers at all but she's a good human being. She works with a lot of charities to help teens, homeless, and countries that need disaster relief. She may be weird and her music for only a certain group but she does contribute to society unlike a lot of people. Oh, to answer someone's question down below, Lady Gaga is actually a classically trained pianist." crand2003 said, "Lady Gaga is the most greatest and most fascinating performer of all time. I hope for her sake someone will buy that thing she is selling, but she doesn't need the money."


James Franco: 'Maybe I'm gay'


James Franco, you're such a tease. The actor said in interview that yes, he does play gay characters, but that doesn't necessarily mean anything about his sexuality. Or does it? His sly utterance of "Maybe I'm gay" got people talking regardless. Many of our commenters found this story fairly humorous, and the comments were accordingly quite funny, too.


Chaz said, "Got to give him credit, that was an all around great answer to the question." Shane wrote, "That was funny, Franco! He has a sense of humor, why can't the rest of you? If he were really gay, he wouldn't be saying stuff like, 'You know what, maybe I'm just gay.' For the love of God, can't we just get past all this gay stuff? Who the hell cares who's sleeping with whom? As long as they are not bothering me or mine, they should be free to love who they want. Pat replied, "How condescending can you be? Bothering you? Sorry idiot, but gay people aren't below you like you're clearly implying. Nice try faking the tolerance."


Cheets said, "If he's gay I will cry." Bryan replied, "If he is gay, I am happy!" Or, just listen to Not All Docs Play Golf. (Great username, by the way.) "People didn't read the full article, where at the very end he made a funny comment. He's a very funny guy and he did a great job hosting SNL. It was just a funny comment on his part. Get over yourselves, people!"


WarriorsMark said, "Maybe he is just a man comfortable with all of his emotions, with nothing to prove. The under-30 population are far more secure than those of us 50, 60 and older who have bought into macho nonsense." Jenickki noted, "Who cares! This guy is a fab actor. My God, he can play anything. Here's a thought. Do you think that characters who are gay, might just happen to have some interesting stories to tell? I just think he likes to laugh at himself, and takes roles that are incredible to do. All I can say, if you are, my dear, you have made many women sad, and quite a few men quite happy." scotty501 wrote, "Why is it when some plays a murderer no one suspects him of being a murderer in real life? Jake whoever [Gyllenhaal] played a gay guy in that cowboy movie [Brokeback Mountain]. Is he gay too?"


Investigation into death of Notorious B.I.G. heats up


Notorious B.I.G. is back in the news. A task force made up of local and federal law enforcement agencies is actively pursuing leads into the 1997 slaying of hip hop artist Christopher Wallace, better known as Biggie Smalls, according to two sources familiar with the investigation.


Commenters analyzed the hip hop lifestyle and stereotypes associated with it. ESTSidious said, "It is unfortunate, but your lifestyle can lead to your demise. Carrying guns, gang affiliations, making music that 'disrespects' your rivals? Make your money and avoid conflict whenever you can."


Lots of commenters made references to Notorious B.I.G. and fellow rapper Tupac Shakur, characterizing them as parts of an era in hip hop. En0ughHaTe said "Biggie and Tupac could tell a story in their music, as well as make it sound awesome. You just don't see that in rappers anymore."


We also heard from qwertysaid, who jokingly suggested a Justin Beiber and Jonas Brothers rivalry. Rulerocks01 noted, "The day the music died ... nah ... not even close, West Coast-East Coast."


YOUR TURN: Now that you've read what other people are saying, do you find that your views align with theirs? Think of this as a wishing well in need of your 2 cents. Post a comment below or sound off on video.


Compiled by the moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

Posted by:
// January 7, 2011
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Home of the penguins »

Last week's Travel Snapshots assignment was Antarctica, and given the remote location and punishing cold,'s travel editors weren't sure how many submissions they'd get. Turns out, lots! From icebergs to whiteouts, iReporters captured the mesmerizing frozen scenery of Earth's southernmost continent.


Some of our favorite shots were the penguins -- laying on their bellies, marching in the snow and just looking cute. Here are a couple that didn't make it into the Travel Snapshots gallery:



"I never realized there were so many penguins!" said Karen Beth Meinstein of Corpus Christi, Texas, who took a cruise with friends to Antarctica and the Chilean fjords in December. "They are extremely cute and entertaining. Given the opportunity, I'm sure I could watch them for hours without being bored."



Melissa LaMark of Rochester, New York, also took a cruise to Antarctica last month and said, "The animals always kept your interest, and many times left you laughing with the sounds they made, or just how cute they were. The penguins could entertain you for hours!"



Courtenay Oswin said this photo, taken by fellow passenger Dafna Ben Nun in October 2009, captures "one of the most amazing moments I've ever experienced." She was visiting an emperor penguin rookery on Snow Hill Island when this curious creature approached.


"They are so inquisitive. They want to know just as much about us as we did them," she said. "After some time they begin to approach you, and as you can see in the picture, they are happy just staring right back."


There's plenty more where that came from. You can see more penguins, along with Antarctica's other wildlife and scenery, at this week's Travel Snapshots gallery.


Have you ever been to the South Pole? Would you ever go somewhere that cold? Bundle up and tell us in the comments below.

Posted by: dsashin // January 7, 2011
 1 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: stories
Overheard on ESPN firing and women on sports sidelines »


Comment of the day: "I work at a day-care center. The other day I called one our clients a 'sweet baby' and she just cooed in my arms. I too should be fired." --Billwsu


It's almost the end of bowl season, and there's lots of college football-related news. First, we're continuing to see comments about the ESPN announcer who was fired and sat out the Fiesta Bowl after he was accused of making an insulting comment to a sideline colleague, Jeannine Edwards. Ron Franklin had apologized Monday after making the comment during a production meeting before the Chick-fil-A Bowl.


ESPN announcer dismissed over comments


This story has started a national conversation on sexual harassment, as well as the role of women in society, and our site was no exception. CrowTRobot said, "You know, it's funny how you guys want women to 'toughen up' and be more like men, but you don't actually want to be married to that kind of women." curleymoe had an interesting response: "We are talking about in the workplace, not about marriage or dating. Women claim that they want to compete on a level playing field and be treated equally, yet often get offended when they are. I do know some pretty tough women when it comes to colleagues and I do respect them. Unfortunately I know many more who aren't, whom I don't respect. By the way, the way women treat each other is pretty interesting to watch. They tend to be very subversive."


momomiester wrote, "Many guys feel women broadcasting football is a farce, being that none have played or coached before, rather than it is a 'man's game.' Guys are just sick of it, [feeling that women] are on the field to fulfill some equality guidelines. Many that have played or coached for decades feel women haven't earned it." Wilcox1905 said, "The history of broadcasting in most major North American sports is dominated by people who either 'never played the game' (to quote [Howard] Cosell) or were minor, temporary participants." Yannakitty pleaded, "Please tell me at what point we women have had the opportunity to 'prove ourselves' on the field or off when it comes to this sport. Starting out at a young age there is no girls' football and there generally isn't anything unless it is powder puff football."


lostinsauce said, "If these words constitute termination without sexual touching or innuendo or threatening physical behavior we can now expect 98 percent unemployment in the U.S." DrBGood wrote, "It amazes me how many people do not understand workplace harassment. Your job is not your personal playground, and you aren't in high school anymore. You don't get to bully and berate people without consequences." Commenters also debated the potential of a lawsuit. DrBGood said, "By putting his company at risk of lawsuit, he made his own bed. If they did not take action, she could sued the hell out of ESPN. Some people are too stupid and full of themselves to see the big picture." stuart1648 wrote, "I see zero potential for successful lawsuit on discrimination grounds if not fired although anyone can of course file a suit. People do get fired all the time for workplace friction of course."


Gibbs to 'TP' White House if Auburn Tigers win championship


More bowl season coming right up! Robert Gibbs, the soon-to-be-ex-White House press secretary, has said he will "TP" -- yes, toilet paper -- a portion of the White House if his beloved Auburn Tigers win the BCS National Championship game in Glendale, Arizona, on Monday. "Rolling" Toomer's Corner is a time-honored tradition after a big victory in Auburn. Readers had fun with this one, whether chanting "War Eagle" or quacking for the Oregon Ducks.


Margroks said, "TPing is, to be frank, just plain stupid. It wastes paper and by its very nature trashes the environment. This guy is an adult who works for the president? Now that is appalling." In turn, Margroks was called a "party pooper" by jos08. There were other commenters concerned with the environmental impact of this behavior, as well as those who thought this is a harmless ritual. Byrd said, "The Capitol would be a much better choice than the White House for a good rolling, provided, of course, that the paper was appropriately soiled." jim in Alabama tried to convey fans' emotions: "You just have to be at Toomer's to appreciate the excitement just like you have to be in the stadium and see the eagle circle five or six times while 85,000 fans scream WAR EAGLE!"


And, of course, there were plenty of folks like CJH and Lorraine, who hoped there would be no risk of TPing the White House at all. Quackygurl wrote, "That's right, let's hope they use [ultra]-absorbent Charmin, because they will be crying a lot of tears. Go Ducks!"


Few swayed by fraud finding in autism study


We received a lot of feedback over the controversy surrounding a study linking vaccines to autism. A scathing report published Wednesday by the British Medical Journal stated that Dr. Andrew Wakefield, the lead author, falsified the medical histories of all 12 patients in his study and that he was "hoping to sue vaccine manufacturers and to create a vaccine scare." A subsequent story detailed why many parents still weren't swayed by the reports. In response, many readers were outraged.


sjenner wrote, "Unfortunately, like all so many con-artists, Wakefield has knowingly moved his discredited 'research' into the area of conspiracy theories. And the problem with conspiracy theories is that they're almost impossible to defeat, because no matter the evidence brought against them, the theory either shifts on its liquid base, or simply brands the evidence against it the product of evil and nefarious forces." DadwithKids said, "I see what autism does to parents through my cousin. I never felt it was my place to argue for vaccines, it was something they could target their frustration and anger on. But the truth needs to come out so the resources diverted can be applied to finding answers and treatements." pdavis68 referred to anti-vaccine activist and former model Jenny McCarthy: "Why are people listening to playboy models for health advice? Are you insane? As someone who's actually done some research in healthcare, let me tell you, if adjuvants in vaccines cause autism and there's a conspiracy, HUNDREDS of scientists are on the take and nobody is talking."


While the majority of the commenters were against Wakefield and for vaccination, we did hear from some parents who don't vaccinate their kids for various reasons. Redwipper wrote, "Just an additional comment: I too also don't believe in vaccines and do not vaccinate my children. However, it has nothing to do this study or autism." Some debate also took place about the life-saving properties of vaccines, as well as the risks of taking drugs in general. rhondasue said, "Darvon killed my father in 1980. The drug company that produces it just now has been forced to pull it off the market. No, we cannot trust our friends the drug companies." The FDA banned Darvon, a controversial painkiller, in November. colinp responded, "I am sorry to hear of your fathers death, but modern medicine have saved probably a billion or more people. I know that neither my wife nor myself would be alive today without antibiotics."


The man who reinvented the keyboard -- twice


The profile of the man who invented Swype, and T9 predictive text in the 1990s, got lots of people talking about input technologies for mobiles. Cliff Kushler also does research on disabilities and communication with dolphins. Swype lets users "connect the dots" between letters in a word. Many commenters spoke up and said this makes touchscreen typing much easier. hooperpie hopes it can be used beyond that. "We work with seniors and Alzheimer's sufferers. I think these types of technologies could one day socially reconnect seniors who suffer from this condition and stimulate their memories, stemming progression of the condition."


fxdmusic wrote, "I've been using swype for more than six months. You would have to try it to see what it's truly capable of. With a little use and some muscle memory you can swype without looking at your phone. Keys may be obscured but most all of us know the QWERTY keyboard at this point in our lives unless you're one of the Dvorak followers. For some it is faster than the corresponding movements, and for others, not. It depends on which you use more often. I can swype in the high 70s at this point. I watch others peck away with their iPhones and stock Android keyboards as I put my phone into my pocket and get on with my life."


But Mortran was among those who said the technology wouldn't help them. "I find it confusing. This T9 feature is the first thing I disable in my cell phone. I don't need a computer doing the thinking for me. I have to type messages in three different languages, so this feature only messes up everything, since it doesn't know in which language I write. Totally useless for me."


YOUR TURN: Now that you've read what other people are saying, do you find that your views align with theirs? Think of this as a wishing well in need of your 2 cents. Post a comment below or sound off on video.


Compiled by the moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

Posted by:
// January 6, 2011
 24 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: comments
Changing the world with $380 million »

With the news that two winners would share the $380 million Mega Millions jackpot, we asked iReporters what they’d do with that kind of cash (hat tip to Jason Asselin for sparking the discussion). Perhaps these difficult economic times have made people more sympathetic to those who are struggling, or the iReport community is just a philanthropic crowd, but just about everyone told us they would use their winnings to help the world.



Before the winning numbers were announced, Asselin told CNN he would invest at least half his jackpot to open businesses in his hometown of Iron Mountain, Michigan. He notes that Michigan has one of the country’s highest unemployment rates, and "I would love to do my part in getting these people back to work."


Continuing on the employment theme, Sherbien Dacalanio of Pasay City, Philippines, would spend most of his money to produce a TV show that would teach skills to poor people. He said, "I will make sure that the TV show will teach and inspire other people to work hard for their own and not leaving their fate to the government or to TV game shows."



John Becker, a software company owner in Coral Springs, Florida, would also create jobs -- for soldiers. After setting aside $10 million for his family, he’d create a foundation to put injured troops back to work. He’d also fund projects in Haiti. He said he has traveled all around the world and “it's time to give back.”


“I don’t need to be blowing money on houses and cars and garbage like that. I think I could do a lot of good for a lot of people with that type of money,” Becker said in his iReport.


Some of you were inspired by personal struggles. Amanda Guyton, the mother of an autistic child in Fredericksburg, Virginia, would build a school and center for children with disabilities and their families.


"Our inspiration is not just our own son, but the myriad of families we meet and have spent time with in the therapy offices and school offices," she said. "We are not just concerned with the special needs kids, but also their brothers and sisters, who often have to sit in waiting rooms while their siblings get the services they need."


Of course, many of you would splurge a little, but no one mentioned quitting their job.


Jessica Farrow, 36, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, said she might switch careers and work for a nonprofit, but "I like having a job to go to every day -- makes me feel like I am giving part of society. It also helps to reinforce to my kids that making an honest day's living is the right way to go."


Sadly, none of the iReporters won this time (as far as we know). But you can still help the world. Check out CNN's Impact Your World for ideas on making difference.

Posted by: dsashin // January 6, 2011
 8 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: stories
iReport roundtable: Thursday at 3 p.m. ET »

Happy New Year everyone. We hope you'll join us today at 3 p.m. ET in our blog for our first roundtable discussion of 2011. We haven't talked in a few weeks, so we're looking forward to getting back together.


We'll open the comments at 3 p.m. ET and will talk with you then.

Posted by:
// January 6, 2011
 90 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: community
Overheard on Homeless man with 'golden voice' »

Comment of the day: "Wow! What a great story. From homeless to superstar." --JRR

The viral story of Ted Williams, a homeless man with an amazing radio voice, captivated our readers. An outpouring of support came for this man, who was given a job with the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team as a result of the publicity.

Check out what readers had to say about this and other stories on

Homeless man with 'golden voice' lights up Web, gets job offers

Most of the responses, like from Elliot, were in support. He wrote, "I am pleased to say that I'm from Columbus as well. This is truly remarkable and to watch this man this morning break down and cry because of the offers and gestures of kindness, it was amazing. I really wish him the best and want to thank everyone that has seen the same opportunity to 'HELP' as we here locally saw." Kevin Kunkel said, "Big pat on the back to the Cleveland Cavaliers for being in a position and willing to give this guy a new chance in life."

Veritas was among those who hoped this news would encourage more people to look at the homeless in a different light. "God bless you William. Homeless does not mean hopeless. Many wonderful, talented, intelligent people are homeless due to the state of the economy. Once someone is homeless even for a short time, opportunities dissipate for jobs. No phone, no address, no transportation, no shower, no soap, and it goes on. We should all thank God for the little things we often take for granted, and show our appreciation by helping those less fortunate. No matter how little we have it is without a doubt more than someone else. Believe me it will come back to you tenfold."

gman asked, "What the heck is wrong with people? He was trained. He had a radio job and got into drugs. Many homeless people were skilled that ran into mental or drug problems, etc. Why is it such a shock that a homeless guy has a skill? It is insulting." Cleareye was wary of the story, "This is a little too perfect. Nevertheless, if this guy cooked up this as publicity for himself, then cool. He has a great look to go with the voice. Hollywood here he comes!"

But most of the respondents were very supportive, and we heard from many in the radio industry. Dan Brand-Levitan was in awe: "Dude. I'd love to have pipes like that. I'm a former radio guy. Had to get out of the biz because the poor job markets and my debt load made it impossible. If I had pipes like that, I'd be in big with the money." Mark Gunn said, "I've been in radio for 33 years and it's stories like this that continue to make this a worthwhile career option. I am so very proud of this business right now. I listened to Ted this morning and the people that stepped up to offer him a second chance made for some really compelling radio."

Boehner takes charge as new Congress convenes

The emotional scene of veteran Rep. John Boehner of Ohio inheriting the speaker's gavel and shaking hands with Rep. Nancy Pelosi got commenters going. Boehner appeared to shed tears as he took the gavel, sparking a passionate debate about the future of Congress, and the true nature of the sobs.

44mlm wrote, "America, our long national nightmare is half over. In 2012 we will finish the job." A commenter using the nickname BlubberingB and an avatar of an emotional Boehner wrote, "Please call me Mr. Boehner. Do you have a Kleenex?" JPatcher responded, "It shows they really do have emotions."

Several commenters referencing the moment in question said the oversized gavel reminded them of the mallet used in the arcade game Whack-a-Mole. ohcynicalone wrote, "Boehner, dude, you can't look away like that when you play Whack-a-Mole. Concentrate. Look, there is a mole in a blue dress with pearls popping up beside you!" But JonJon20 said that it's "hard to hit anything when you can't see through your own tears." Finally, 10001NYC echoed what still others were feeling: "I love it when one group of lying, cheating, self-aggrandizing thieves turns power over to another group of lying, cheating, self-aggrandizing thieves."

Singer Gerry Rafferty dead at 63

Readers had a strong connection to Rafferty's work and shared personal stories about what his songs mean to them. Many commenters also talked about the still-undetermined cause of death and speculation that the crooner was abusing alcohol. From there, many commenters shared stories and opinions on alcoholism in society.

depeche68 wrote, "I used 'Right Down The Line' at our wedding going on three years ago, and it made me cry that night as I looked at my beautiful wife. His music will be close to me forever. I am sorry it ended the way it did for Gerry. Maybe a few people will see the light before it is too late." epdm said, "I'd give my right arm to be able to write a song as great as 'Baker Street,' and that was just one of many from this huge talent. ... So sorry to learn of his painful last years. Rest now, Gerry." westTN said, "His story reminds me why I stay sober. I didn't want to go out the way he did. I 'gave up the booze and the one night stands.' Sounds as if he couldn't. I hope he found some peace before he died. Thanks for the great tunes."

New revelations about slaves and slave trade

This was easily the most-commented story of the day. Just about every reader was outraged about something. twirler wrote, "No question the African slave trade, the Holocaust and the treatment of American Indians are gigantic horrors of human behavior. Can we learn from these events and go forward? Can the generations of all races and religions in the 21st century be free of the blame and guilt and hate that belongs to perpetrators centuries ago? Will the hatred of blacks toward whites ever end?" And mastmom said, "Consider 205 years of slave 'trading.' It is a clean word -- trade. Much cleaner than kidnapping. Eight generations of people: children, women and men subjected to horrific lifelong physical abuse and suffering until their death. Nothing in history compares to that misery. Nothing." everything99 replied, "If humankind is 1 million years old as they say, I am sure they have produced situations pretty much like this many times."

Several readers took issue with the article and the responses it got, and much debate ensued. amidiots wrote, "My problem is people's assumption that because Africans are involved in the slave trade, that Black Americans are to forgive modern racism or take credit for part of the problem. ... White people asserted that the position of Blacks were less than human to justify the act and position themselves as the dominant race ... that is the beginning of modern racism. Not slavery but the idea that certain races are inherently stupid or less capable."

YOUR TURN: Now that you've read what other people are saying, do you find that your views align with theirs? Think of this as a wishing well in need of your 2 cents. Post a comment below or sound off on video.

Compiled by the moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

Posted by:
// January 5, 2011
 1 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: comments
Your thoughts on government-subsidized housing »


Editor's Note: CNN Senior Correspondent Allan Chernoff and producer Raelyn Johnson want to hear from iReporters about the debate surrounding government-subsidized housing. What's your take? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


In light of the recent housing meltdown, the government is planning on overhauling Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, companies that finance home mortgages for low and middle income families in an effort to increase the levels of home ownership in the country. Critics say these government-owned mortgage giants helped fuel the housing boom and bust by supplying risky loans to consumers, but we want to hear your thoughts.


Do you think the government should be in the business of subsidizing housing? Should taxpayers continue to support Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in their stated mission to increase the availability of mortgage money? Should mortgage interest payments be tax deductible?


We’re looking to hear from people on all sides of this issue -- home owners in debt, home owners who have paid off their mortgage, builders, realtors, and those who have personal stories to share. Join the conversation and share your story in the comments below or you can put your thoughts on video. Some of the best responses could be used in a story for CNN.

Posted by: katie // January 5, 2011
 80 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: community
Overheard on Revisiting 'Huckleberry Finn' »

Quote of the day: “What’s next? We take out the sexual innuendo from Shakespeare? Or make Lenny Small “normal”? How about cut all the violence out of Clockwork Orange? ” –AA


No "n" word in new Huckleberry Finn


How much difference can one word make? In the case of Mark Twain’s “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” apparently quite a lot. Publisher NewSouth Books is releasing an edition of Mark Twain’s “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” with all instances of the “n” word replaced with the word “slave.” The effort is being spearheaded by Twain expert Alan Gribben who says this version will increase readership, particularly for school-aged children.


At the very least, the book is sparking a lively and thoughtful debate about censorship, race relations and the preservation of history, even the parts people would like to forget.


Amy said, “Race is still a very complicated matter in our country, especially in the South, and I hope this edition can make its way into classrooms where it wasn’t before.”


Chuck said, “I think the visceral reaction to the n-word is part and parcel to the impact the novel has. Understanding the n-word in the contemporary context and seeing it used in its historical context allows one to approach the subtlety and complexity of racism and how it can profoundly hurt but also, quite tragically, empower individuals -- something that is a key to understanding why racism exists at all.” Robert said, “If it is painful to hear that word, then let it be so. The classics teach us many things, and they aren’t always the most pleasant topics. All sides of humanity should be discussed, pleasant and otherwise.”


USARugby said, “It is censorship, even if for a good cause. Our world isn’t perfect, so if this is what it takes to get kids to read Twain, then so be it. I just hope they don’t stop publishing the original.” Idiots said, “Instead of editing a classic, why not let parents take the time to explain to their kids the meaning of the ‘n’ word, why it might be offensive to use it, and how it fits into our history.” Jay Thomason said, “Time to stockpile copies of the original so any kids and grandkids I have can know that the word and idiots that use it still exist.” BLM said, “This book is a reflection of the time in history in which it was written. To change the language is to change its history. It should be left as it is.”


jujube said, “So it’s a children’s edition of ‘Huckleberry Finn.’ Adults can and should still read the original. I don’t get the outrage.” Bobby said, “So we take the ‘n’ word out of Huck Finn, but all of these rappers and hip hop stars still say it every other word, and that’s fine?”


Child scavenges trash for survival


The story of a family in Afghanistan, representing the country’s problem with life-threatening poverty, brought a groundswell of support and outrage from CNN readers—as well as some comments about the U.S. war in Afghanistan and poverty in the United States.


ppython said, “These pictures and stories are heart wrenching. This, unfortunately, is the harsh reality. What have we achieved? All that we achieved in name of technology and better human life is just Illusion.” FinnMacCool said, “I am 16 years old. I have had one ‘job’ in my life: I worked as an official for a youth football (soccer) job and I go to school. However, the schooling is a privilege. I think about this little girl. She is 5 years old and responsible for the survival of a family. I believe I am a strong person, but nothing compares to her.”


desertrat201 wrote, “I'm tired of comments about how there's poverty in the U.S. too. Not like this. I'm not saying we shouldn't look after our own, because we should. But please. A child who starves or freezes to death in the U.S. is a victim of gross parental neglect and system failure -- so rare that it's a shocking headline, not a daily occurrence.”


nddd9 said, “One third of the world is obese and one-third of the world is starving. That's a sad fact.” lili1234 said, “Children deserve a better chance of survival than what it is shown in these pictures. Where is all our money going in Afghanistan?” rockycoast1 quipped, “Meanwhile Karzai and the warlords eat well.”


House GOP plan to repeal health care law


CNN readers mainly saw U.S. House of Representatives GOP efforts to repeal President Obama’s health care law as a political tactic or a lapse in judgment, while a few cheered their efforts.


Aboud said, “Fantastic. That’s why they got my vote. Repeal it, litigate it, or defund it. I don't care what they do. Just get rid of it.”


PalmReader quipped, “Meanwhile, let us continue fighting two wars, let us continue outsourcing jobs overseas, let us continue, and continue, and continue...getting nothing done.” Chenna said, “Wow. Really? At a time when many Americans are struggling and made it clear that Washington should be focusing on the jobs and the economy the new GOP Congress wants to waste time on this. Good grief.” Nadeem said, “Why not repeal their tax-payer-funded health care first. After they do that they can look at ours.”


Phil in KC said, “It's all for show. They know full well they cannot get it past the Senate. And, if they do, it will be vetoed by the president. They just want something they can twist around and turn into a campaign issue.” jules sand-perkins predicted that “This will be a dangerous battle.”


YOUR TURN: What do you think about these stories? We want to hear your thoughts. Post a comment below or sound off on video.


Compiled by the moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

Posted by: kgriggs // January 4, 2011
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Skywatchers capture partial solar eclipse »

The first of four partial solar eclipses forecast for 2011 took place Tuesday, and skywatchers throughout Europe, North Africa and central Asia captured the celestial event. A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the sun and the earth, obscuring the sun's surface. No total solar eclipses are forecast for this year, making the partial eclipses more of a viewing treat.


In Tilburg, The Netherlands, Jennifer Stahmer's boyfriend left for work Tuesday morning and told her to look out for the eclipse. At about 8:45 a.m., she snapped photos from her balcony and said it was "amazing when I saw the little piece of sun sticking out ... I haven't seen anything like this in my life.”


Mihai Curtasu, 20, in Bucharest, Romania, had some fun projecting the eclipsed sun on the wall through cardboard punched with message and images. He says he has seen almost all the eclipses since 2004 that could be seen from Romania.


James Cheatham, an American living in Jerusalem, borrowed a camera and filter from a friend and went outside at 10:25 a.m. to quickly snap a photo. He said the clouds "made it look mysterious … an Edgar Allen Poe sort of feel.”


Did you catch the eclipse? Join the stargazers and share your images with iReport!

Posted by: dsashin // January 4, 2011
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In search of the gadgets of the future at CES »


If you're like us, chances are you like playing with new gadgets and dreaming about the next acquisition. Maybe you even like thinking about the future of these devices and envisioning how much closer humanity can get to the lifestyles in various science fiction universes. If that's the case, then this post is for you.


CNN is headed to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, an an annual expo that is a veritable paradise for the gadget aficionado. Check out CNN's coverage on this event, which runs from January 6 to 9; everything from tablet devices to 3-D TVs to video games will be there. So will our reporters, and they want to know what you want to see. 


The convention is overflowing with all sorts of gizmos that boggle the mind, and we would like your assistance in the tough task of combing through the sea of electronics to find the real gems. We've created a Twitter account called @cnnireportPRJCT where we can chat and be creative together. We hope you'll follow along and join us!


You can expect there will be a few quickfire challenges where you can upload an image or two to CNN iReport via e-mail, or respond to questions in unconventional ways. Maybe we'll ask you to jot something down on a Post-it note, or have you build a video game controller out of household objects. Our CNN reporters will be watching the discussion that takes place on this Twitter account and going on a scavenger hunt of their own to find the kinds of devices we talk about together. This is something of an experiment that we're trying with our community, but that hopefully fits the spirit of innovation that CES celebrates.


Follow the Twitter account and you'll get the instructions there. Be sure to comment below and let us know what you think about the future devices, and CES itself. If you're going, send us an iReport.

Posted by:
// January 4, 2011
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Overheard on Birds falling from the sky »


QUOTE OF THE DAY: “It's a sign of the Aflockalypse!” -- DoctorOD


Bird and fish kills in Arkansas


Just before midnight on New Year’s Eve, thousands of dead blackbirds fell from the sky in Beebe, Arkansas. That was just after 100,000 drum fish were discovered floating in the water and lining the banks of a 20-mile stretch of the Arkansas River near Ozark about 125 miles west of Beebe. The causes for both incidents are still under investigation.


CNN readers offered their insights and opinions about the kills, from end-of-the-world and government conspiracy theories to scientific explanations.


itsnewstome warned, “Someone besides the government should have a couple of these birds tested before they all disappear. I'm not saying it can't be some freak accident, but I don't feel comfortable with the only explanation coming from the government. Who knows what they could be testing?” jjr1968 agreed, “I'm not a conspiracy nut (really), but this is just bizarre. No, I don't believe for a second we'd be told the truth.”


Murtle shared, “Well, I'm in Paris, Arkansas, just across the river from Ozark. I heard about the birds and just now about the fish. Something kind of ‘fishy’ going on here. There are no such things as coincidences. Come on Arkansas Game & Fish Commission. What have you done now?”


Some readers had logical explanations.


rb7 said, “There is a large gas main that was repaired on the west side of town along the east property line of the CWS transportation lot. Natural gas will kill these birds as fast as anything else would.”


highanddry offered, “I think it is related to the string of micro-earthquakes in and near Arkansas.


nepawoodsconcluded, “Wherever a large flock of birds has been caught in a violent hail storm, this has happened.” And some readers found humor in trying to determine the cause. Extremophil wrote “The answer is very simple. Iran mistook the birds for fighter jets and shot them down with their high tech pellet guns.” jharral3 suggested ”Maybe they had too much eggnog during the holidays.”


producerman tied it to politics, “The fish were killed by the falling dead birds on the very day that the Republicans took over Washington. Coincidence? I think not."


TV and Kabul’s masked women


A new television show in Kabul, Afghanistan allows maskedAfghan women to speak out on the taboo subject of spousal abuse. Some CNN responders sympathized with the women and applauded the show, while others condemned the Afghan culture for allowing the abuse.



lyrker supported their efforts. “That would be a really tough show to do every day. I commend the creator for his choice to take on such a provocative subject. I hope it helps someone.”


federalist51 wrote, “This story is sad beyond tears. But I have to ask those opposed to the U.S. presence in Afghanistan: Would the TV program exist -- would we be reading such articles if the Taliban were still in control of that country?”


tropicul said, “Let's hope this show has a positive impact. Men in Afghanistan have to be brought up to date by about 1000 years. This article is so sad.”


ahmad18ny said, This is more of cultural problem in Afghanistan. Religion does play a part in it, but the Afghan culture is very primitive. Don't take my word for it. Ask any honest Afghan living in the West."


Snow removal and beer


According to a report, last week four sanitation supervisors opted for a warm car and beer rather than snow removal of a massive storm that pummeled New York. CNN responders weren’t surprised, but some were still outraged.


wallster wrote “So they're using an alleged story from the New York post to make their case. They cut workers and expected more to be done with less help? This is a clear case of Bloomberg getting caught cutting workers and it bit him in the can. To blame the workers is not only a lack of teamwork, it shows his ina... more They cut workers and expected more to be done with less help? This is a clear case of Bloomberg getting caught cutting workers and it bit him in the can. To blame the workers is not only a lack of teamwork, it shows his inability to lead.”


FarmMom quipped, “Uh, since when do four guys drinking beer instead of shoveling snow become national headline news? Next up on CNN: Two Minneapolis government workers caught surfing Facebook instead of doing their approved work? California city manager drinks martini on taxpayer dime at lunch?”


10001NYC didn’t see the humor, though. “I have lived through several major storms in NYC. Each time, prior to last week, the city has done an amazing job of cleaning up the snow. Something went wrong last week and although I am no fan of Blooomberg, I can’t imagine how this could have been his fault. The city has had a snow clean-up pl... more I have lived through several major storms in NYC. Something went wrong last week. People died because of the blocked roads. People could not get to work, businesses did not open and millions of dollars were lost. A snow storm is not the time for childish behavior and anyone who failed to do the job they were hired to do should lose their job.”


YOUR TURN: What do you think about these stories? Post a comment below or sound off on video.


Compiled by the moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

Posted by: kgriggs // January 3, 2011
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