Blog : March 2011
Overheard on Ohio bill and union busting »


Comment of the day: "I haven't seen a single Republican governor act to limit the pay raises/benefit increases/rights of the staff working in the governor's office. If they were serious about cutting deficits, they would ask for sacrifices across the board. But they haven't." --TruthSpitta


Bill restricting public-sector unions passes in Ohio


Ohio legislators passed a controversial bill barring public employees from their right to strike. Some 360,000 employees will be affected. Some of our readers wrote in support of the bill, attributing failing industries and education to union demands. bast18 said, “All I can say is that it's about time. The unions are wiping us out as a nation. Time to disassemble the money machine and send it, instead of our jobs, to China.”


Jnkesrouan said, “GM survived the Great Depression for 10 years. Then came along United Against Work, the UAW, and GM had to declare bankruptcy one year into the Great Recession. This is what Unions do: strip companies of their financial cushions, so that when a major recession hits, they either have to declare bankruptcy and reorganize or go out of business.”


Thegenrallee said, “While I generally lean towards the democratic side of things, unions are one thing I can't agree with. In some lines of work (coal mining for example) unions might be beneficial but for government and state jobs, unions need to be dropped completely to get the lazy people out so that work will actually get done."


Others spoke up for the unions and the protections they offer. Dave3000 said, “The Republican budget proposals will eliminate, or reduce dramatically, funding for government agencies that support labor, public safety, and other important issues that impact us all. Look at the big picture and stop fighting against your own people.”


8isenough said, “Are you willing to work for the same wage as someone in China in order to keep your job from being sent overseas?”


BirkGed said, “I am an "open shop" electrical contractor, and generally don't have a lot of love for unions. However: Unions were created to specifically address the issues Kasich is about to forbid them to. Don't seem right, even though there is no love lost here.”


Boscoebill said, “The unions protect public sector employees from politicians who want to give tax breaks to their wealthy friends, then cut pay to the hard working civil servants to pay for tax breaks for the rich.


NicDriver agreed. “Our government 'of the people' needs to protect us from predators, not obligate us into indentured servitude. It's wrong to funnel so much capital towards the already wealthy and then expect the remnants of the middle class to pick up the budget shortfall.”




The kids truly are all right


Relax, present-day teenagers are truly doing better, says Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Laura Sessions Stepp, citing a CDC study on various health statistics. Many of our readers, however, questioned what “better” really means.


rosalvaje said, “That makes no sense, fatter but taking better care of themselves. Mmm.” Moltar said, "Sure, the kids are less literate than previous generations, are much fatter and will live a lifetime of weight-related problems, but at least they didn't drink when they were 18."


Jangocat said, “No, they're not all right, and telling them they're all right is part of the problem. Mentally and physically they are far inferior to previous generations. The US has been falling behind other developed nations in education for decades now.” rescue said, “I notice that literacy and graduation rates were omitted.”


jkress said, “The only problem is that they're dumb as rocks. Whip out some extra change at the cash register after they've already rung up the sale and watch them try to count money.”


Suprisingly, many readers agreed with Stepp. JMarkLane said, “Compared to my generation (I was born in 1957), the kids I know are a dream. Most of them are thoughtful, careful, relatively respectful, take decent care of themselves, are not substance abusers, and are making an effort to educate and advance themselves. In some cases, they are *too* serious. But compared to the wild and dangerous lives we led as teenagers, it's a vast improvement.”


Some suggested that the more things change, the more they stay the same. dtboco3 said, “I will always remember something my dad said to me when I was 18: "I think all of you are pretty screwed up, but grandma and grandpa thought the same thing when I was your age and we turned out just fine."


sirluccilot said, “I came across a quote once that basically said the same thing, you know, ‘Kids today aren't respectful, lazy, etc., etc.’ The quote was from Greece, circa 400 B.C.” dtboco3  agreed, “The numbers don't lie. Every generation thinks that there is something wrong with the teenagers.”


Will you commute via 'personal rapid transit?'


Tired of overcrowded buses and trains but still prefer public transportation? Someday there may be a more personal way to travel publicly. Several U.S. cities are considering installing Personal Rapid Transit systems (PRTs) that would seat four to six people and move along a guideway.


ChokingHazrd said, “The cars are just adorable.” Goofius said, “I look forward to the day when most people travel without cars because it will be better for our environment, safer, and less congested. More people would ride bicycles if they didn't feel so intimidated (and rightly so) by the cars on the roads. “


Remi0228 said, “It would be great to have public transportation without having to deal with the general public! It would be nice not to have to deal with other riders: cellphone yappers, smelly unwashed hair, cigarette and bad perfume stench.”


But others thought sharing a “personal” car was still problematic. catology said, “These sound great, until you consider all the filthy slobs out there who will be leaving their garbage, sickness and stink in these nifty little cars.”


Many wrote to share their experiences of a similar system at West Virginia University. Gabeee said, “It's an outdated system that needs many improvements but it still gets the job done with the random break downs and delays.”


emeraldcls said, “It may be old, but it still runs. My mother used to take us for rides in the summer and now she takes my daughters. I would take the PRT over the DC metro any day!”


Stmyer14, a senior at WVU, said, “Our PRT is anything but 'progress.' It breaks down constantly, doesn't run as often as this article would like to think, and usually breaks down when it’s snowing or raining. They have spent millions of dollars on new software for the system, and it is still horrible.”


But brian8907 said, “The PRT isn't the bad part; the breakdowns and delays are due to the computer technology our university refuses to update. There was an article in the DA that said 60% of breakdowns happen because of the computers, not the actual PRTs.”



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

Posted by: leahpine // March 31, 2011
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iReport roundtable: Thursdays at 3 p.m. ET »

Please join us here at 3 p.m. for our weekly roundtable discussion. We've got a lot of cool projects going on right now that we want to tell you about.We're also happy to answer any questions you may have about what's going on in the community.


If you can't make it at 3, feel free to leave your questions in the comments below and we'll try to answer them once the roundtable starts.

Posted by:
// March 31, 2011
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Overheard on Parents of murder victim suing Facebook »


Comment of the day: “I extend my sympathies to the family on their loss. However, suing everyone will not bring her back.” --woogiesmom


Picture of murder victim posted on Facebook


The parents of a murdered woman whose picture was taken by an EMT and then posted on Facebook are suing the social media site in an effort to compel the company to turn over the image. The parents are also suing their daughter's convicted murderer, the paramedic, the city of New York and Greenleaf Arms Inc., the company that owns the apartment building where the victim’s body was found.


What did readers think of their pending litigation?


comet1442 said, “What happened to their daughter is sad but the only person at fault here is the EMT. The city of New York has no control over him posting the photos and Facebook doesn't either. Facebook should cooperate with getting the picture of off the website but besides that all those lawsuits are overkill.” cryofpaine said, “I realize that this is a horrible tragedy, and that they are looking for some ounce of justice after what happened. However, they're getting a bit sue-crazy with this.” TamoK said, “The pictures were taken down by Facebook as soon as they were made aware of them. Suing FB for this is like suing the owner of a building that someone has put graffiti on it.”


But Really2009 said, “It's grief. They will lose almost every lawsuit, but this is their version of ‘freaking out.’ They'll learn by losing all of their money in filing these lawsuits that they cannot win, but it's just a different version of Grief.” drwelby said, “They're in mourning, they lost their daughter. There's a wide spectrum of behavior by people in their situation - many of which may or may not look rational to those on the outside looking in. They're probably feeling very powerless in the loss of their daughter, and this lawsuit is helping them feel as though they're doing something about it. Think about that.”


And in regards to the issue of privacy and posting photos on Facebook, readers were torn. Really2009 said, “I agree; the lawsuits are pointless. However, they are bringing up a subject that really needs to be discussed: Regulating the posting of photos on the internet. If I fall in public and there are 50 people around to see it, those 50 people should have a funny story, but they shouldn't be able to show it to 50,000,000 people.” And sallysueb said, “That's the problem with photos on Facebook. There are no copyright protections like on other sites like Flickr. When you post a photo on Facebook, Facebook itself owns that photo and can do anything they want with it. And anyone that you have given access to that photo, i.e. friends, can also do anything they want to with it (sell it to a newspaper, re-post it, etc.) and there is absolutely nothing illegal about it.”


But wrkn4thwkend responsed, “@really - I see your point but welcome to the age of social media. There is no stopping it now.” And Patriot16 said, “Inasmuch as you don't want your picture disseminated all over the web, the photographer has every right to do so if taken in a public place. And in this situation, the EMT had absolutely no right to take her picture in the first place.”  Maverick2591 said, “I am a retired paramedic and am ashamed that one of my brethren would do such a (lets face it) STUPID thing! Never in all my years of public service would I ever think to take a picture of a victim, let alone post it on any sort of forum.”


When Alzheimer’s turns violent


Taking care of a loved ones or patients who are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease can be especially difficult if they are among the 5% to 10% who are prone to violence. In this story, iReporters share tips about staying calm and patient, and finding support groups. readers shared their views, too.


2a96 said, “I was in the same situation with my mom and my solution was to provide the same unselfish love she gave me and my family, my siblings and strangers throughout her life and to think about the patience shown to me as I went through stages of maturing. I only held her as gently as necessary when she was attempting to be violent or accusing me of things I knew were due to her mental state.”


Guest said, “My father was one of the patients who became violent. I was petrified to be with him. I had no other family to lean on. I was VERY fortunate to find an amazing facility that took wonderful care of him and treated him with the utmost dignity ... right up until his death.”


5thApe said, “After my dad could not longer look after my mom and we got her into long- term care she had several episodes where she got into fights with other patients. Alzheimer's is the most wicked of all diseases. Give me anything but this …” And di56 said, “This is such a cruel disease. My heart goes out to the people and their families. Caregivers give yourselves a break once in a while, you deserve it and it will relieve some of the tension.”


Charlie’s truth tour not a sell out


There are still tickets available for Charlie Sheen's Violent Torpedo of Truth tour, with more than 1,250 seats available on for Saturday's show at Detroit's Fox Theatre. But by the traditional definition, Sheen has sold out a few venues. readers who posted comments about the availability seemed much less amused by the actor than they did a few weeks ago.  Danoman said, “Do you think he will actually go through with it? Or stand up there for 5 minutes and then say ‘see ya.’ ” starryskye said, “Anyone who buys tickets to Charlie's delusional rants is an active participant in enabling his disease.” Jrodca said, “The rantings of a drug addict for how much? You know you can all walk into any AA or NA meeting and hear the rantings of addicts for free.” RMRCal said, “Good, I hope the tour tanks.” And Claudius1066 said, “Shame. I had rather hoped the place would be empty. Only morons would attend.”


jessejune said, “This was a train wreck waiting to happen from day one and anyone that signed one for this was trying to make a fast buck off a man with a serious problem ... and I don't mean bad ticket sales!” Twosocks42 said, “Been sensationalizing a man with a mental illness. Perhaps people are finally coming to their senses. That, or they realize it is just as easy to listen to a man high on multiple substances talk about his tiger blood on You Tube as it is to watch him do it on a stage; difference being, one costs far less.”


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 // March 30, 2011
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Where has spring gone? »

In the southeastern part of the United States, iReporters have been battling heavy winds, cold rain, severe thunderstorms, and chunks of hail. Wait, didn’t the groundhog predict an early spring?


For those wondering where the fields of blooming flowers and rays of sunshine have gone, you are not alone. Severe weather iReports have steadily trickled in for a few days now, with many wondering: What’s going on?


John Hauptman was enjoying the 80-degree weather of Tybee Island, just a few miles away from Savannah, Georgia, on Sunday. But the mild-mannered weather shifted drastically to a torrential downpour, causing Hauptman and others to seek shelter under a tin roof.


“At first what seemed like a few large drops bouncing off the tables and chairs was quickly confirmed to be quarter-sized hail pelting the tin roof above and everything else in sight!" he said. "The sound was equivalent to sticking your head in a steel drum."


That same day in Americus, Georgia, Harriett Williams went onto her carport to check out a storm when hail starting falling from the sky. “A thunderstorm had just blown up, and the wind was wild!” she said.


Maher Salem of Gretna, Louisiana, was working at a used-car dealership on Tuesday night when a storm rolled through and destroyed the car dealership canopy. When the canopy fell down, it narrowly missed the cars on the lot. Not one car was damaged, he said.


“Yesterday, they were giving us tornado watch warnings at 6 p.m. At 7 p.m., we had a lot of rain coming through with some decent wind. Then all of a sudden, it switched from rain to hail, golf-ball-sized hail,” he said Wednesday.


Huge chunks of ice also rained down on Melissa Johnson's home in Dothan, Alabama, in a sudden storm on Monday. “Hail splashed into the pool, creating meteorite-size splashes,” Johnson said.


But Johnson wasn’t surprised by the ferocious weather. “What is the saying, ‘In like a lion, out like a lamb?’”


April is just around the corner, but it seems like this month of March may still have some lion teeth to show.


Is there severe weather around you? Send us your iReport!

--Jareen Imam

Posted by: dsashin // March 30, 2011
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Posted in: stories
Looking for a summer intern: Two weeks left! »

Want to work with Team iReport this summer? We’re currently accepting applications for our summer internship program at CNN Center in Atlanta, Georgia.


The full-time, paid internship lasts about 12 weeks and is open to college students. Course credit is available, and preference is given to candidates who have previously contributed to CNN iReport.


One lucky intern will work with iReport’s editorial team helping lead CNN’s user-generated news content, participatory media and community efforts. In addition to working with a super fun team, our intern will also get the chance to learn from a host of CNN professionals across platforms.


Sound like fun? Go here for all the details and to formally apply. The deadline for applications is Friday, April 15.

Posted by: katie // March 30, 2011
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Overheard on Did President Obama convince you? »


Comment of the day: "Obama could cure cancer and people would hate him." –akphidelt


Obama addresses nation on Libya


After President Barack Obama addressed the nation about U.S. involvement in Libya, CNN senior political analyst David Gergen asked, “Were you convinced?” According to Gergen, Obama made a good case for action but was vague on potential outcomes while laying out a more cautious, collaborative approach than past presidents.


Of the speech, readers were torn, often according to their political affiliations.


midogs2 said, “Why do I get the impression that the President would have been criticized and ridiculed by the conservatives if he had done nothing at all in Libya? Cry baby McCain has been doing nothing but taking pot shots at his decisions since his landslide loss two years ago.” WayOutThere responded, “It’s what a political party system does. You are saying that liberals did not criticize and ridicule Bush no matter what he did? Don't be morally shocked and outraged; it’s posturing for their constituents, nothing more. Both political parties do it and will continue to do it.”


Some readers said that the speech convinced them that President Obama made the right choice. TruthSpitta said, “Obama articulated his position perfectly. America won't step in EVERY time to solve EVERY problem internationally, but we will help out when it's the right thing to do, when the situation calls for it, and we are able to make a difference.” madison said, “I am pleased with the so-called "Obama Doctrine". It requires the U.S. to pick its battles. The decision to intervene is based on a) egregious actions by a foreign entity (specifically against its own citizens or against U.S. interests) ; b) wide collaboration from the international community, set up in advance; c) shared costs with the international community; d) perceived benefit to the U.S. or to the U.S. role as world leader; and e) perceived risk. Why would we not follow such guidelines in all of our actions?”


And there were also those who said they weren’t on board. YodarCritch said, “President Obama may have made the argument that military forces were necessary to enforce the UN no-fly zone and ‘protect’ Libyan citizens. However, President Obama failed to make the argument that United States' military were needed.” SarahB12345 said, “I'm not swayed by Obama's reasoning. If our goal is to save the lives of innocent civilians, why aren't we involved in the Congo?”


Simmons blasts fat jokes


In an opinion piece special to, physical fitness guru Richard Simmons called out comedian George Lopez for his jokes about actress Kirstie Alley’s weight. Having been teased as a “fat” kid, Simmons says he understands the pain overweight people endure because of jokes and that they may breed insensitivity.


Many readers agreed with him and praised his efforts to reach out, but some readers said he’s too thin-skinned.


beemr77 said, “It's no wonder kids bully each other. Just look at all of the so-called adults they have for examples. Thank you for your message Mr. Simmons. If we can't all be civil to one another because of the way someone looks, then we're not much of a society." SpayNeuter said, “Verbal abuse should never be allowed to be hidden behind being called a joke. Words can hurt and do hurt. They can be some of the worst scars we give each other as humans.” abrown85 said, “Richard Simmons is such a kind man. He seems so tolerant of everyone (i.e. size, race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.). We need more tolerance in this world.”


samTheman99 said, “As the President of CCA (Chubby Chasers of America - over 10 million members), I must say that if you laugh at yourself, people will stop laughing at you.” rjk256 said, “Comedians go after issues and make fun of them; that is their role as the jester. People are too sensitive. Seriously. Don't be such a wimp.” humtake said, “The problem is people let what other people say offend them. I was fat most of my life, and I made fun of it and embraced others who made fun of it. If you live happy and not let others dictate your emotions, you will live a much happier and longer life.”


But skady said, “I don't think the jokes by themselves are the problem. I think the real problem is that bullies and intolerant people use them to harass and alienate people that already have troubles accepting and dealing with a condition that society frowns upon.”


Willie may sing to pay for pot charge


Last November, much beloved country singer and well known pot smoker Willie Nelson was charged with pot possession in west Texas. The action prompted a public outcry and now the prosecutor in the case is offering the singer an unusual plea deal: sing his 1975 "Blue Eyes" hit and pay a $100 fine.


While many readers expressed their support for Nelson, others didn’t appreciate the preferential treatment.


Deej59 said, “Two problems with this. First, it's like saying 'Dance' while shooting at his feet. Second, if you or I get busted for the same thing we're going to pay the top fine and possibly do some jail time. It’s wrong to have different scales of justice for different people based on who they are and what they do.” MattSWilson said, “So, I get caught with weed [I get] jail time and heavy fines for being a ‘drug addicted menace to society.’ Celebrity gets caught with weed, hey lets put on a show.” SmokeyWtrz said, “I got popped in east Texas on a misdemeanor possession charge. It cost me a lot more than a hundred bucks. And when I sang, the jail staff threatened to beat the crud out of me.”


Cappyjean said, “So the judge is not star struck! I like the prosecutor, we need more just like hit. Smoking weed is nothing, sounds like the judge needs some.” Miguk said, “Willie for president!” Jimmo shared his version of “On the road again.” “Stoned again. Just can't wait to get stoned again. The life I love is tokin' up with my friends and I can't wait to get stoned again.”


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 // March 29, 2011
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Final Four fever: Butler, UConn fans step up! »


After the VCU Rams’ comeback-kid victory over the Kansas Jayhawks on Sunday, the roster for the NCAA Final Four is set, and nary a number-one seed remains standing. The semifinals are going down this Saturday, with the University of Kentucky facing the University of Connecticut, also known as UConn, and Butler University facing Virginia Commonwealth University.

It’s been a Cinderella story from the Elite Eight to the Final Four, which means that your bracket is probably beyond saving. While you nurse the loss of your office pool buy-in, take a look at some of the best NCAA iReports we've received during March Madness:


VCU fans gave their team a send-off rally right before they departed for San Antonio last Thursday, where they edged out the Florida State Seminoles. And on Sunday, VCU students raised a raucous on-campus celebration immediately after their victory over Kansas. Meanwhile, University of Kentucky fans stormed Atlanta for the SEC tournament at the Georgia Dome, where the Wildcats beat the Flordia Gators to secure their own playoff berth.


Butler and Connecticut fans are officially on notice: You’re getting shown up! If you’ve got some fan videos of your Final Four team you want to share, submit them to our NCAA page and show your school spirit.

Posted by: jmsaba // March 29, 2011
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Posted in: community
Overheard on Wal-Mart and gender equality »


Comment of the day: "However this turns out, I think it's safe to say that lawyers will come out the biggest winners." --TruthSpitta


Justices to hear appeal over Wal-Mart gender pay lawsuit


An upcoming Supreme Court case will decide whether to allow a class-action suit against Wal-Mart for sexual discrimination. The case began when six women unknown to each other found that they shared a common claim.  Readers were split over whether they believed the women in the case suffered discrimination.


KtinME said,  “Our local Wal-Mart is notorious for overlooking the women and promoting younger men with less experience and  education. Reasons given range from: 'he came off better in the interview" to "he had the image we were looking for.' One of those men was a nineteen-year-old kid with one day of Wal-Mart working experience; he was handed a walkie-talkie and told he was the floor manager on his second day of work. The overlooked women, all with years of experience, coached him through his shift.“


Shakaboy said, “If you read the article ... the women were training the men for the new position. They were qualified enough to train them for the job but not be promoted into it.”


Many were dismayed over Wal-Mart practices.  BBoy705 said, “Wal-Mart is like some sort of blight on the nation. It's pretty sad when that is the best a whole section of society can aspire to!”


Beowulfpk believed employees were treated equally but said, “Part of the Wal-Mart experience is to give false hope that you may become a manager to keep you working in the lower-paid positions indefinitely. Bitter employees don't get promoted. There's little room for family obligations as retail managers are expected to work 365 days a year and at any hour of the day. It’s a horrible schedule. Some people can handle that kind of schedule. Other people have family to take care of and unfortunately those people will probably never be a Wal-Mart manager.”


YoshkarAla, who claimed former employment at both Wal-Mart and Kmart, said, “Wal-Mart management treats their employees better: at least in Wal-Mart, no one gets cussed openly by management. I'll take a job at Wal-Mart anytime, regardless what anyone negatively comments.“


Prince William chooses wedding cake made of cookies


In a break with tradition, there will be two kinds of cake at the royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton: a classic fruitcake and a “chocolate biscuit” cake.


BenHur76008 said, “Let them eat cookies!” Spankie11 asked, “Will they serve milk with that?” volumexUK said, “The UK make world-class biscuits. I know 'cos I live here. So there.”


Kris53 said, “Oh, how nice! All this wonderful news, can't wait to see 'the big day.' Lots of speculation about Catherine's dress too. With all the doom-and-gloom news, it's nice to read something positive and uplifting for a change! Diana did well (smile).”


ThatGirl123 said, “600 people will be saved from that foul fruitcake that is at most English weddings. Those lucky, lucky people.” gobo said, “What they call "fruitcake" isn't what you're imagining.” UKsideofpond said, “I'd rather that than the grits they slop up down south! Besides, it's a matter of taste, all Christmas cakes and birthday cakes in the UK are made of fruit plus liberal doses of brandy to keep it moist.” ACB11180 said, “I'm not a fan of fruitcake, but I wish I could be there to try the chocolate biscuit cake!”


Although a groom’s cake is said to be a southern U.S. tradition, a “biscuit” in this case is what Americans would call a ‘cookie,’ not the southern fluffy roll. Odin63 said, “The practice of groom's cakes actually goes back to old Europe, but it fell out of practice there. Now it is more common in the US, not just the southern U.S. I have seen weddings with groom’s cakes in several states outside of the southern U.S.


Guest said, “Remember the groom's cake in the movie "Steel Magnolias"? It was a devil's chocolate (or red velvet chocolate) shaped like an armadillo! CrowTRobot answered, “It was red velvet because the joke was that it looked like you were butchering it when you cut it open.”


Deadly Egyptian cobra missing from Bronx Zoo


Last summer, a rattlesnake was on the loose from Zoo Atlanta for two days before it was clubbed to death in a nearby neighborhood. (Venomous rattlesnake found dead 100 yards from Zoo Atlanta) Now a cobra is missing from the Bronx Zoo. Staff was alerted Saturday that the snake was missing from an out-of-exhibit enclosure, and the reptile house was closed and secured.


Striker5 said, “This is nothing to joke about. A number of years ago in Stoneham, Mass., some idiot had an Egyptian Cobra that got loose due to his stupidity. They found the snake six months later across the street in an elementary school, in a classroom. A student saw it and thought it was fake until it moved. Fortunately, they captured it.” aubrie said, “My worst nightmares are about snakes. I am totally repelled by them. This story really creeps me out.”


In response to outrage over some of the comic comments, astonlad said, “I'm only seeing the funny side of it because I'm confident this thing will probably get found or killed before it gets to cause any harm. If a rapist or serial killer had escaped from prison, my attitude would be very different.”


Alina77 said, “Still missing? Come on, she probably wonders why nobody looked under the toilet seat.” rally56 said, “They should check the Mongoose exhibit.”


Johan234567 said,  “I'm going to the zoo today and stick my hand or foot in every dark accessible area. This is a guaranteed win for a lawsuit if accidentally bit.” JBSac replied, “According to the article you would have about 15 minutes to file that lawsuit.” Cleveland123 said, “Good thinking. You should do that right away.”


Many suggested the snake would have the worst of it in the Bronx. ChrisFromVA said, “After a couple hours in the Bronx, I'm sure the snake will turn itself in.” Geest said, “This snake stands no chance against subway rats on the 2 train.”


HumbleOp said, “The snake is the one who should be afraid. If he gets around Broadway he'll think that people are trying to stomp him, but it'd just be the women attempting to try him on. Hope he doesn't have a tattoo that says ‘Manolo Blahnik.’ “


JNYC said, “Loose in the Bronx? That snake better stay in the reptile house.” Mcwhiteys said, “They taste like chicken.” deepwater805 answered, “McCobranuggets.”


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

Posted by: leahpine // March 28, 2011
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Posted in: comments
In photojournalism, is editing pictures ever OK? »

This lovely gallery of HDR photography that our intern Nancy produced sparked more than oohs and aahs. Many excellent questions came up in the comments about the ethics of this photography technique. Is HDR photography acceptable in photojournalism? What about digital manipulation that looks like HDR? Is ANY editing OK?


These are questions that journalists, viewers, and academics have grappled with from the beginning. Photography, of course, is an art form, but in journalism, there's an expectation and responsibility of truth and realism.


With that in mind, here are some guidelines for submitting photos to iReport that we hope will help clear things up:


Our absolute first preference is that you submit original, high-resolution, unedited photos. If your pictures need brightness/contrast adjustment or cropping, we have photo experts here at CNN who can take care of it.

If you manipulate your photos in any way, from editing contrast to adding filters to, yes, using HDR, we just ask that you be transparent about it. Please be up-front in your iReports about any modifications you've made to a photo. Editing your pictures does NOT preclude them from being used on CNN -- we just need to know about it so we can pass that information along to our viewers.

If you're going to edit a photo, please remember that you can make adjustments, but you need to keep the photo's original meaning in tact. That means don't crop out people or objects who are important to the meaning of the picture, and don't make so many adjustments that the viewer is misled (i.e., if the photo was shot at night, don't play with the lighting to make it look like it was shot during the day).

Always keep a copy of the original, unedited photo, because we frequently ask for that if the submitted picture is too heavily edited for us to use.

All the same rules apply for photos taken with apps like Instagram and Hipstamatic. We prefer unfiltered images, but if you'd like to add a filter, just make sure you tell us what you did.

Finally, there's no need to add watermarks or other credits to photos you submit to CNN iReport. We never use iReport images on CNN platforms without checking with the photographer first, and we always credit you. So you don't need to add a watermark to images you share with us (and we probably wouldn't use a photo that was obscured by a watermark in the first place).


Make sense? We hope so. Please leave any photojournalism ethics questions you may have in the comments, and we'll make sure to get back to you!

Posted by:
// March 28, 2011
 18 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: community
A statistical look at the things SXSW carries »

Over the course of four days during South by Southwest, CNN iReport welcomed attendees to take part in a crowd-sourced adaptation of the much talked about Persona photo series by Atlanta, Georgia, photog Jason Travis. By juxtaposing images of the things people carry with portraits of the carriers, Persona captures a unique and enlightening glimpse into their lives.


With Jason's help we collected more than 700 photographs at SXSW, each as fascinating as the event itself, as well as demographic data and other information that each participant shared with us. Moreover, we looked at every photo and created a huge database for listing and categorizing every single item that people displayed.


It was a huge project, but the end result was well worth it. We've analyzed and discussed data for a few days now, and we'd like to share with you the trends that strike us the most.


By way of a disclaimer, we'd like to point out that this was more a fun project for us than a serious one and although mining and analyzing 745 photographs was quite a feat, our numbers and methods fall well outside any sort of scientific standard.


The gender breakdown was 55 percent male and 45 percent female. The age distribution dropped off for ages greater than 50 but was quite balanced otherwise, something we were a little surprised about considering the gravity-like pull that SXSW has on the under-25 crowd.



Once we grouped items into measurable categories such as "electronic gadgets" and "beauty and health products", we were able to better compare what SXSW goers consider "essential". As we expected, "phones" was the most popular category, although we did not foresee it being such a stand-alone leader. We expected wallets and keys to fall right behind phones but the numbers for those categories fell well below what we imagined, particularly keys which were displayed by only 21 percent of participants. We suspect many folks weren't carrying keys at the event, but more remarkably, it seems many just didn't consider them essential.


So, what was essential for people at SXSW? Sunglasses and lip balm. Thirty-two percent of people displayed sunglasses and 17 percent displayed lip balm. Moreover, when asked "What is one item you can't live without?", lip balm/chapstick was the second most popular answer behind phones.



Another very popular category was mints and mint-flavored chewing gum at 7 and 10 percent respectively. We figured it could be fun to add these percentages together to come up with a "Kissability Index" -- the aggregate of percentages for lip balm, mints and chewing gum -- and compare those across cities of origin.



Turns out Atlantans and Angelinos are the most considerate kissers -- smooth and fresh! We also asked folks to tell us one reason they attended SWSX Interactive. To "Learn about new ideas" was the most popular answer with 336 mentions and to "Have fun" came in second with 167 mentions.


So what did we learn about the things people carry at SXSW? Overall people seemed to favor electronics, things like phones and cameras, but beauty and health care products didn't trail far behind. We suspect people at SXSW Interactive wanted to learn about new and cool ideas; while looking good... but then they also wanted to party, and tweet about it all.


Thanks to everyone who was part of this fun and fascinating project! Be sure to meet the inspiration behind it all and see the photos from the booth.

Posted by:
// March 25, 2011
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Posted in: stories
Overheard on Pasta with love sauce »


Photo: Chef Bruno Serato serves pasta to children in Orange County, California.


Comment of the day: "I myself have lived for a short while in an L.A.-area motel, not because of poverty but because it was impossible to get a four-month lease because I had two children.  Feeding my children healthy food over a hot plate and in a microwave was a huge challenge. Try to serve your family a full healthy menu for one month using nothing more than your microwave, the smallest burner on your stovetop and the bottom shelf of your fridge for storage. After you do that, you may pass judgment" --HeatherJeane


Making sure 'motel kids' don't go hungry


Upon the urging of his mother, a California chef has been feeding the masses. Bruno Serato (above), an Italian immigrant who started as a dishwasher in the U.S., has been making sure hot dinners reach some of the hungriest children in wealthy Orange County, California. bill6672 said, “This man is a saint. Children, no matter what nationality, should not have to go to bed hungry. How appropriate that he is himself an immigrant. Bravo, and well done Mr. Serato.”


coffegirl said, “What a wonderful person. I aim to give back like he does.” farmgurl58 said, “This guy is a great example to all of us. I hope his restaurant is so successful that his pockets can't hold all the money that he makes.” allenk893 said, “Wow. Bless them for helping those families out. What a great news story in the midst of negative news worldwide.”


Some worried about whether daily pasta was nutritious. Baruchzed said, “This is a nice story. I do want to mention that pasta doesn’t offer much in terms of nutrition. These kids need vegetables, fruit and clean meat.”


But Morgansmedia said, “Pasta beats hunger.” WayOutThere added,“Well, feel free to send your vegetables to supplement the pasta.”


Godsgrace05 asked, “Is there a way to donate to the cause? I would love to give to this group of people to help with food, and this is a great thought to share with other communities around the country. This warms my heart today.“


Others wrote to condemn the parents of the hungry children. biggovv said the story was “propaganda” that was really “about freeloading, takers of society & dum lazy parents.” But others said the children were not at fault and that bad things sometimes happen to good people.


FalconDagger said, “ ‘Good afternoon Mr. Employee, we are downsizing and you are out of a job as of right now. Now try to pay the mortgage, other debts and feed your family.’ If you haven’t noticed, a lot of educated, gainfully employed people are now jobless. That’s not to say this is the case for all or any of the people this saint of a man feeds. Just be thankful that you can put food on the table and be appreciative of those that help put food on a table. Amen.”


Japan and energy: What's the alternative?


In the wake of Japan’s nuclear reactor crisis, many countries are re-evaluating their nuclear power programs. Some readers were optimistic about alternative sources.


moneyman1 said, “Japan has a clear and hopeful choice to replace nuclear power: deep-well geothermal power. According to the U.S. Department of Energy/MIT study of 2006-2007, the United States could produce all its grid electrical power with geothermal. Deep-well geothermal is free fuel; no research and development. Indonesia and the Philippines are deploying it now. A new dawn of cheap electrical power is coming.”


567123 asked, “What about tidal energy? This is far more reliable a source of energy, just a bit more expensive than wind.”


selles said, “If solar and wind works best on a small scale, then we should try to get as many houses as possible in the U.S., solar- or wind-powered individually. Each house could be solar- and or wind-powered on a large enough scale to sell at least some of the power back to the grid. This is an energy solution that is possible using current technology.”


Maxemoose said, “According to the documentary "Too Hot Not to Handle" a 50-by-50-mile solar panel array in the Mojave Desert in California would solve all our problems. I saw a similar statistic on Bill Maher this week stating 3% of Arizona could do the same. Lack of technology and space are not the issue. It is a lack of will to change."


But others were strongly for updating nuclear energy. cory83 said, “The French get 80% of their electricity from nuclear power and have not had a single major incident. Use nuclear power the French way.”


Jamessavik said, “Uranium-based nuclear plants are not the only game in town. Plants based on the thorium fuel cycle are much safer. They are cleaner, not nearly as radioactive and the fuel is completely consumed by the reaction. Thorium is ready to use in its natural state and does not have to be processed.“


But Errylemco said, “Living in Canada and having inside knowledge of the nuclear research industry here, you still need enriched uranium or plutonium in these reactors. You still have to enrich the uranium or produce the plutonium. While they may be ‘cleaner,’ there are still a number of issues to be addressed.”


How puppy love can help your sex life


More exercise and touching, an improved attitude and new adventures: These are the gifts that an adopted puppy brought to writer Ian Kerner and to the bedroom. Deecee said, “I love this guy's insight and the way this story applies scientific research to this subjective case. Awesome story that makes me glad I'm a dog lover.”


Armywifeam said, “My husband and I were in the debate on whether to get a dog or wait. Guess this solves it.”


A few were disturbed over the writer’s choice of a pit bull, saying that it was bound to be aggressive, but others disagreed. MrsFizzy said, “Of course, it's ‘bound’ to happen. … Look at that ‘killer’ and read about the way they are bringing her up! (rolls eyes)” Sara said, “Nice to see a charming story of a pit bull out there and glad you included a photo. They need all the good press they can get.”


Others said that having a dog had not enhanced their love lives. Alex said she and her boyfriend had experienced the opposite: “Be careful what you wish for. We're constantly watching so that she doesn't pee in the house or eat a shoe. We're worn out from the long walks, training and fetch. Our heads hurt from the barking when she's in her crate. We've hardly touched each other since getting this dog three weeks ago. Puppies equal extra birth control in my book.”


Aaron said, “I'm sorry but I had to stop after I read, ‘petting a dog is good foreplay.’ The worst part, I can never unread it!”



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

Posted by: leahpine // March 25, 2011
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Posted in: comments
Overheard on Color me intrusive? »


Comment of the day: " ‘Pham said vulgarity won't be a problem,’ adding that everyone will walk on shiny rainbow clouds while tiny birds sing to them, and all war and violence will immediately end. Each citizen will be given a million dollars and a pony, and no one will ever, ever take a picture of their Wang©.” --Bubba01


New Color app promotes mobile voyeurism


A  smartphone app released today will allow users who are within 150 feet of each other to share current and past photographs. According to the developers, this will allow users to share a sort of bug’s-eye perspective of a given view.


Get a life, suggested some of our readers. BigPicture12 said, “Huh? You are sitting outside at a beautiful cafe on a warm spring day, and you are staring at your phone looking at pictures of the scene around you? What possible sense does that make?“  CTLeClair agreed. “So I can see the world around me through a mobile application, or I could use my eyeballs. I'm confused at the excitement over this.”


Most said that only those sharing the app can share the streamed photos. Others wondered how this photo sharing would affect an out-of-the-loop bystander. Is this legal, they wondered.


Jahoobie said, “So, if I am not the one using this app but happen to be sitting at a bar, and a random person decides to take my picture, this company can reuse the picture without my consent? Yeah this sounds like a wonderful app; I'm sure lawsuits will follow for invasion of privacy.“


Wateverlah said, “I can't seem to delete any photos after I have taken them through the Color app. That is a privacy concern. “ ACSpam2010 said, “Seems like a stalker app to me if you can see people's photo streams throughout their day. Do you think a 14-year-old has the state of mind to be cautious about what they share?"


RIPMrLinkous said, “This one's going to end in a lawsuit pretty quickly. Midloo agreed, saying, “Yeah, as soon as someone starts taking creepy pictures of some other Color owner's children. Endgame. RobertInComo said, “This will turn into a porn-fest in no time.”


But others thought there was little cause for concern. Tryingnotto said, “Please everyone, don't panic, I'm sure there will just be pictures of babies, people smiling and great scenery.”


IMAPC said, “Meh, this will last 5 minutes.”


Harmed in the hospital? Should you sue?


A story about a 2-year old who suffered amputations because she wasn’t seen quickly enough at an emergency room had readers arguing about lawsuits.


musashi1 said, “As a doctor I am shocked that this wasn't pursued much more quickly. To say that her condition wasn't as serious as others in the hospital is insane; the kid was septic, that is by definition a medical emergency. The high fever and spontaneous ecchymosis/petechiae formation are big red flags for that.”


Hospitals are overwhelmed by less urgent cases, said some readers. Maverick2591 said, “This is a tragic story, but hospital EDs are inundated with patients who could see their private physician or go to an urgent care center. Why the ED? Because in the other places you have to pay a co-pay before you leave, and in most EDs this rule is not enforced.“


xFailedState said, “ERs see thousands of patients. It's a small miracle that we don't see more of these stories come out. Patients can be lost in a sea of more serious cases. How do you prioritize? It's a dangerous dance that most ERs struggle with especially at the smaller hospitals. But the result is this; they probably will not win this case."


JanetMermaid said, “I sat in an emergency room for three hours one morning, all the while bleeding internally. I was the only patient there. Why did I have to wait? The doctor had gone home to eat breakfast (one of the nurses told me this). At least then I had insurance. Our entire medical system is broken.”


Some thought a lawsuit was appropriate in this case. hollybush123 said, “This poor family have no choice but to sue. They could end up on the streets trying to pay for medical care for their baby who will need help for the rest of her life.” 25mom4 said, “This poor baby will never tie her own shoes or wear a wedding ring. I hope they win big. If the hospital is ‘too busy’, then they need to stop worrying so much about profit margins and hire more staff. Yes, attorneys make money. But don’t forget that hospitals do too.”


HoosierDoc said, “As a physician, I think truly injured patients whose injury is a direct result of negligent care certainly deserve appropriate recourse. The problem is that our system is set up as a lottery for lawyers. It invites frivolous cases.“


2 planes land at Washington airport without controller help


FAA suspends air traffic controller after flights land with no help


An air traffic controller was suspended at Washington’s Reagan National Airport after two planes had to land without guidance from the control tower.  The planes landed safely. Many readers thought the underlying problem was staffing.


Fromwithin said, “Well, congratulations to the pilots for dealing with a difficult situation gracefully and successfully! Only one controller at the tower? Jeeze really? What’s the person supposed to do? Pee in a cup for bathroom breaks?”


theotherrvw said, “Ironic that such a thing happened at the airport renamed for the President who fired the PATCO union members.”  Renait said, “Understaffing was one of the issues the air traffic controllers were striking about when Ronald Reagan squashed them.”


Carrotroot asked, “Is it too much to ask to have more than one ATC on shift at a major airport? Is this normal or is this the result of Congress not passing the 2011 budget?” Silentway answered, “It’s not budgets; it’s the lack of applicants. Most ATC guys I know make 85k and most people I know, including myself, wouldn't do that job for that money.”


soe999 said the real problem lies “with the previous administration. In 2006, they started treating controllers like crap, cut their pay, and then claimed nobody would leave the Agency. What a shock, they left in droves when they were eligible to retire and the Agency did little to prepare for the impending retirement wave.“


Still, many said the story was blown out of proportion. bronconavy said, “This is a non-story! Discipline the controller and move on. The pilots did what they are trained to do. ... Yawn. …” bobcamp agreed, saying, “It's not that big a deal and has happened to me once as well. Sometimes the equipment breaks, or the ATC is in the bathroom, or the ATC forgot to bring his badge with him to the bathroom and gets locked out of the tower. There is a plan B. The only story here was that it happened at National.”


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

Posted by: leahpine // March 24, 2011
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Posted in: comments
iReport roundtable: Thursdays at 3 p.m. ET »

Please join us here at 3 p.m. for our weekly roundtable discussion. We've got a lot of cool projects going on right now that we want to tell you about.We're also happy to answer any questions you may have about what's going on in the community.


If you can't make it at 3, feel free to leave your questions in the comments below and we'll try to answer them once the roundtable starts.

Posted by:
// March 24, 2011
 80 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: community
Family’s three-year bike ride, a lifetime of memories »

“It all came down to time,” Boise, Idaho, resident Nancy Sathre-Vogel told me. “We realized the kids would never be this age again. If we didn't take the time now, we decided we either do it now or we won't do it ever.”

That’s when Sathre-Vogel’s family of four made the momentous decision in 2008 to ride bicycles 17,290 miles, from Alaska to Argentina. (Not only that, her twin sons -- 10 years old at the time -- hoped to break the Guinness World Record for being the youngest to travel the most distance on a bike.)

The foursome set off on their journey in June of that year, and little did they know how much social media would help them along the way: “We needed to document our journey for Guinness and our website, and social media added so much to it. We have met so many people along the way who made our journey that much better. I'm proud to call all these people my friends.”

Sathre-Vogel posted photos and video on CNN iReport, all along the way, but she said the impact of social media went far beyond that. "There have been a few times where social media saved our bacon,” she said. “We put out the word that we needed help and people stepped up to the plate to help us and really showed the power of social media.”

In one case, they found a place to stay through Twitter and Facebook, while in Bogota, Colombia, after a weekend trip there away from their bikes. They left their passports with the bikes, though, which kept them from being able to check into a hotel. According to Sathre-Vogel, she put out the call for help and had a place to stay within 45 minutes.

Even in the middle of nowhere, they found beauty in their journey.

“We went along the coast in Peru -- we hit up headwinds every day and it was a barren desert, and we wouldn't see anything but sand the entire day,” Sathre-Vogel explained. “And yet it was absolutely gorgeous, to see the sands dancing on the prairie dunes. It became absolutely magical.”

Another location on their journey had special significance for Sathre-Vogel. She had spent time in Honduras with the Peace Corps in the 1980s. “It was great to ride back into my village after 22 years. It was almost as though I had never left. The boys were able to attend classes at the school where I volunteered at years ago.” (The twins were home-schooled on the road, a topic which Sathre-Vogel is passionate about.)

On Monday, the Vogel family’s three-year trip came to an end when they reached Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, where a sign is posted saying, “Fin del mundo,” or “end of the world.”

Now that they’ve reached that end, what did her kids learn? “The idea that people are good,” said Sathre-Vogel. “It doesn't matter what kind of wrapper they come in --- they’re all people and they’re all friends.”

Posted by:
// March 24, 2011
 42 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: stories
Overheard on Fans praise Elizabeth Taylor »


Comment of the day: Richard …your Queen has arrived. --Cobrawing


Elizabeth Taylor dies at age 79


Elizabeth Taylor, the Academy Award-winning actress famed for her beauty, jet-set lifestyle, charitable endeavors and many marriages, died at the age of 79 Wednesday morning.


Hundreds of readers posted tributes for the screen siren.


Basil999 said, “Elizabeth Taylor was an icon of the bright Hollywood years -- Brando, Newman, Burton and the like. RIP Ms. Taylor. Those of us who grew up watching you will remember you in our hearts, always. (Who can forget ‘Cat on Hot Tin Roof’ and ‘Virginia Woolf’?”) DRBERNABO said, “Katharine Hepburn was once asked about who else had an acting career comparable to her own and she surprised the interviewer by naming Elizabeth Taylor.” ReallyJersey said, “Elizabeth Taylor was glamorous with a capital G. Talent and brains combined with a stunning natural beauty. She had a zest for life and a caring heart. Her courage in adversity and charity work alone would win her a place in heaven. God bless you Liz, you were one of a kind.” gabrielle242 said, “I am crying as I write this. I grew up with her and it is sad to see a legend like her go. She was a beautiful woman and a fantastic actress. I can watch ‘Cleopatra’ over and over or ‘Giant’ or ‘National Velvet.’ Rest in peace Elizabeth.”


Many commenters mentioned her charity work. motownmom25 said, “All your hard work for the AIDS Foundation was only one of the great things you did in life. Heaven got another angel today!” Greatnow said, “You were without a doubt the most beautiful woman who graced the screen. Rest well and thank you for all your work for AIDS research and for making this place better than what you found.” swapmeat said, “Ms. Taylor was a hero for all those suffering from AIDS; it was she who spearheaded AIDS research and awareness when it was a very unpopular issue. Thanks, darling. You'll always be beautiful!”


And the fact that she was a beautiful woman was not missed. wapi said, “She was smokin' hot when she was young. Today's legions of bleached blonds could take a lesson from her.” Opencurtin said, “Her violet eyes were amazing.” Powerbar said, “There was no one more beautiful than her on the outside (Cat of a Hot Tin Roof), but most importantly, there was more inner beauty than all combined.” fritz65 said, “A truly gorgeous woman, proving a few curves here and there are stunning, much like Marilyn Monroe.” Yup236 said, “She was absolutely stunning ... and this is coming from a woman. I've always had the biggest crush on her.”


U.S. bans some Japanese food


Amid Japan's nuclear disaster, all milk, milk products, fresh vegetables and fruit from the four prefectures closest to the quake-stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant will be prevented from entering the United States, a representative for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday. commenters were either confused by the ban or frustrated about other’s misinformation.


Those scratching their heads included phil5280 who said, “I'm surprised. Not one word about sushi or seafood from the general area.” SheepDetectr said, “First they say not to worry, then all of a sudden certain foods are banned.” baboons said, “Why would basic food staples such as milk and spinach come from as far away as Japan? Burning several tons of diesel fuel on a slow boat across the ocean to provide us with fruit?”


Commenters who seemed to have answers posted as well. shayward said, “I really wish people would get that this is about protecting farmers in the US from a naive backlash from the public that buy there goods and don't look at where there spinach comes from. JerryF said, “When you have radioactive products leaking into the air, the water, and food supply you have a big problem.” Guest said, “Radiation and nuclear power aren't the problem here, it's the NASTY by-products (forget iodine) that are being released from the nuclear reactor ‘accident’.” zoeusa said, "Keep in mind that United States only imports 4% of foods from Japan in general."


And some readers had requests. lilkim629 said, “For the love of God, just don't ban sushi!” Joot responded, “Mercury is more harmful than radiation at these levels. By the way, that mercury comes from coal production.”


Mother arrested for encouraging son to fight


A California mother was arrested this week after she was captured on video encouraging her son to pummel another boy. The woman can be heard yelling "Beat him down. Body slam him," as the two boys swing wildly at each other in the scuffle that leaves one bloody. The fight was broken up by a passerby.


Many readers had choice words for the mother’s parenting skills, but nearly as many praised the man who stopped the fight.


WorkinMan001 said, “It's great to hear a story where when someone does something wrong, a good person puts a stop to it. I don't read this as a 'people suck' story as much as a story about someone doing the right thing. Cheers for the guy who stopped the fight. Growler said, “I'm in with the working man. The passerby put a stop to it. Nice to know some people will stand out by stepping up.” Bearmitchell said, “Good work by the passerby. This lady is why some young adults end up in the prison system.”


About the mother’s parenting, machew said, “Now we can plainly see where bullying comes from. It's a learned behavior and guess who teaches it?” sumguy2006 said, “I must say I'm feeling a little hypocritical. Seeing that video makes me want to punch the mother in the face.” While spankie1 said, “I'm torn on the issue. If my son was being physically bullied by another kid, I would encourage my son to stand up for himself and kick the bullies a$$. If it is over a dispute, I would insist that my son to resolve it w/out using violence.”


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 // March 23, 2011
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Posted in: comments
The rising gas price conundrum »

By now those who drive know gas prices are not pretty high, they are really high. Even with its minor dips, fuel prices made a comeback, increasing up to seven cents in the past two weeks.


President Obama addressed the issue of rising gas prices earlier this month, attributing the price hikes to increased global demand and political unrest in North Africa and the Middle East.


iReporters from across the United States submitted images of gas price signs from around their area. As prices continue to rise, people have told us what the increase means to them.


Paul Tamasi of Belvidere, Vermont, said he fears that if gas prices continue to rise, people may not travel to Vermont come summertime. Tamasi said he is not only watching out for Vermont tourism, but also his own mileage nowadays.


"You've got to make your miles count," he said.


Nick Swann said the price of diesel is directly affecting the trucking company he works for in Rochester, New York, which uses close to 150 gallons of fuel a week. "Something's got to be done. With unemployment so high and gas prices are high people are suffering," he said.


Florida college student David Horton said that he, too, is feeling the pain of gas price hikes. "As a grad student, I'm practically at or below the poverty line, so paying more for anything affects my delicate financial equilibrium," he said.


Evan Young said he started using public transportation whenever he can. Others said they are now carpooling or planning out their driving routes ahead of time.

But Mark Boberick of Fairbanks, Alaska, is tired of people griping over gas prices. He explained that Alaskans pay 30 to 60 cents higher than the national average. "People complain all the time to no avail," he said.


President Obama mentioned tapping into oil reserves to help Americans. But one iReporter, Jim Perrone, said he is skeptical about whether tapping into oil reserves will help. "I wonder what prolonged effect -- if any -- that will have," he said.


The Minneapolis, Minnesota, resident said that in one day the price of gas changed four times, increasing more than 10 cents every time.


Although prices are edging close to $4 a gallon in parts of the United States, international iReporters said the price of gas in many European nations surpasses $8 a gallon.


Eileen Romero of New Orleans, Louisiana, said gas prices are directly affecting her, but she is glad costs are rising. Romero reasoned that rising fuel prices may pressure the government to seriously start considering financing greener energy and alternative fuel sources.

"The price increase is the only thing that will make American's quit using as much gas," she said.

We'd like to hear about what you're experiencing in your area. Are gas prices affecting you? Share your thoughts in the comments or upload your own iReport.

Posted by:
// March 23, 2011
 31 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: stories
Overheard on Prayers and well-wishes for American teacher »


Comment of the day: “These people are really the Good Will Ambassadors that we need there. Her death is a loss.” --paqrat137


American teacher found dead in Japan


Virginia native Taylor Anderson, 24, who had been teaching English in Ishinomaki, Japan, was found dead Monday. Fellow teachers say Anderson probably tried to bike home after the earthquake. In the wake of their loss, her family is asking people to pray for the missing and for the people of Japan.


Many readers left their condolences.


Mcjeffster said, “Teachers in Japan are revered and respected. She will not be forgotten. My college-aged son wants to do what Taylor was doing in Japan when he graduates. May she rest in peace and my heart goes out to her parents and siblings.”  suzann19 said, “My son also teaches in Japan and shares your daughter's love of the people and that country. I am so very sorry that you have suffered this unimaginable loss.” Jpeigosensei said, “As a human, an American and a fellow English teacher in Japan, my heart goes out to Taylor's family.” MrModerate3 said, “The world would be a better place with more people like Taylor Anderson. RIP.”


Stories of tragedy sometimes attract negative comments from people who are looking for a response, but they were heavily outweighed on this one. When MileHigh5280 said, “My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and the families of all the victims” and DoctorDehli said “What are ‘thoughts and prayers’ worth, exactly?” rkt210 responded, “DoctorDehli, I am currently halfway through chemotherapy treatments for leukemia, and I can tell you that ‘thoughts and prayers’ are worth a lot. There are times I can actually ‘feel’ that support. Most of what we see in the media is negative and tends to make us cynical, but you have no idea how many good people are out there until something really bad happens to you.” And Wantitbetter said, “Doc: They are worth more than money.”


Finally, of Anderson’s family, gitana1 said, “This young lady has a lovely family. In the midst of their own, personal tragedy they remind us to pray for those who remain missing and for all the people of Japan. I would like CNN to cover more stories of the people in Japan who lost their lives or who survived.”



Kucinich says Obama’s actions impeachable


During the same week former U.S. Vice President Dan Quayle publicly defended President Obama’s golf game, Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich was on the attack.  According to Kucinich, Obama has committed an "impeachable offense" in deciding to authorize U.S. airstrikes over Libya without the consent of Congress.


So what did readers think? Most disagreed with Kucinich.


Justin said, “We did not declare war on Libya. We are participating in a U.N. ‘no fly zone,’ Had we done this without the U.N. it would have required a declaration of war and congress' approval.” Red79 said, “The President is Commander in Chief. He authorized military action, not war. The President can authorize any military action short of war.” And Moderate Sean said, “As a moderate, I have to say that Rep. Kucinich is so far off the base his head is spinning! Sometimes I wonder where he comes up with these crazy assertions. Breathe a bit slower, sir to allow more oxygen into that brain of yours.”


But some commenters agreed with Kucinich.


Sad day in US said, “Isn't it weird that the only ones making any sense in DC anymore are the ones people call nutjobs? Of course I'm referring to Kucinich, Ron Paul, and Bernie Sanders. Both sides have decided to no longer go by the law of the land. When will this stop? Those laws are there for a reason.” Mark said, “At least some liberals stick to their core values.” And Chris Willett said, “In doing this, Mr. Kucinich fights for principles over party and places the national interest above his own political interest. It's too bad we can't clone him.”


Blues great Pinetop Perkins dies at age 97


Born Joe Willie Perkins in Belzoni, Mississippi, “Pinetop” Perkins went on to become a Grammy Award-winning musician. He played in Muddy Waters' band for 12 years and released 14 albums between 1988 and 2010.


Some of his fans posted comments about the late, great musician.


Marcia13 said, “I worked in Tornado Alley and we were LUCKY to have Pinetop Perkins perform there a couple of times. He was always a great talent, put on a great show, but never put on 'airs'. Always a class act and always a gentleman.” lovelylady6 said, “Pinetop is one of the last great blues musicians and will always be remembered.” DenizenKate said, “Truly one of the sweetest old men ever. Farewell, Pinetop. It was an honor to have met you.” paulhoog said, “RIP Pinetop. Play on.” sunsohot said, “RIP Pinetop, you will be husband introduced me to your music and I fell in love.”


WallyBalloo said, “I saw him 20 years ago in Maine - a wonderful show. Just goes to show that, if you do what you love, you will live a long life.” txntv said, “Man, he was just signing CD's at Antones over the weekend. RIP Pinetop, a true legend.” And Diskullman said, “Pinetop was still touring until last month. If you do the math, you discover that this man amped up his successful solo career at the age of 74. I was fortunate to have him play for a house party back in 1984, a class act, he will be missed.”


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 // March 22, 2011
 6 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: comments
Painted people celebrate Holi »

Holi is a Hindu day of celebration for Indian communities around the world. Bursts of color fill the air as the festival celebrates the triumph of good over evil. This year it fell on March 20. iReporters around the globe celebrated with parades and dance competitions, making sweets and throwing colored dyes.



This was Rachel Cauvin's first time attending the annual Holi parade in the Richmond Hill section of Queens, New York. "It was a very festive, colorful parade. At the  end of the parade they all gathered at a park and covered themselves  with the colorful powder. The powder is for a blessing for the coming  year. Great fun!"



Mahesh Mishra was with his friends and family in Freemont, California, to celebrate the happy occasion. He spent the day aiming the colored powders at those around him.



Egor Savintsev attended the Spring Festival in Moscow because he thought it was an unusual event. "It turns out, for Moscow  citizens to celebrate Holi Mela has become common practice."


Did you celebrate Holi in your neighborhood? Share your pictures and video with CNN iReport!

Posted by: nancyt3 // March 22, 2011
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Posted in: stories
The Open Story of the Japan earthquake »

Moments after a massive earthquake struck Japan on March 11, Chris Postnikoff posted a photo on iReport of a crack in the earth in Chiba, Japan. In his iReport he described the photo as evidence "it was no mere tremor."


Of course now it's very clear to everyone it was no mere tremor -- the quake left thousands dead and more missing, triggered tsunamis and damaged nuclear reactors -- but at the very moment of the shaking, none of that was apparent. iReporter Postnikoff and hundreds of others snapped photos and videos of their singular, dramatic experience and posted them to CNN iReport.


In the minutes and hours following, photos and videos from all over Japan streamed in to iReport and all over the web, and the world began to get a clearer picture of what had happened from the many angles and perspectives of the event.


A story like this one is the kind of event that's impossible to view through just one lens -- it affects millions of people, and has as many angles as people involved. That's why at CNN iReport we've recently launched a new kind of approach for telling these kinds of massive stories: the Open Story. It combines iReports with reports from CNNers, and places them all on a map and along a timeline. And, of course, it invites contributions and comments.


We tried it out for the first time at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, as a way to cover that giant, sprawling event from a zillion angles. And now we're taking it out on a much more serious topic: the Japan earthquake and its continuing effects. Below you'll find some notes on how to navigate and use it.


But first, you should know it's a pilot, a beta, a first step toward something really grand. The idea of the Open Story is a new one, and something we're committed to building and improving over time. What we're working toward here is a true collaboration among a news organization and the many people who experience an event first-hand. Hope you'll let us know what you think -- and how we could improve -- in the comments.


The parts of an Open Story


Shared byline
The person who posts the first element of an Open Story shared a byline with all the other contributors.


'Add now' button
An invitation to add your own perspective to the story. You may add a photo, video, audio or text contribution.


The timeline displays avatars of each of the contributors, and runs chronologically from left to right (newest posts are on the right). Hover over the avatar to see the timestamp and name of each contributor.


The gallery in the center of the piece displays the photos and videos posted to an Open Story. For now, it shows the most recent iReport first. You can use the left and right arrows on the sides of the gallery to navigate backwards and forwards through the content.


The map displays each of the stories according to the place the iReporter located them. Click the "Expand Map" button to see a larger view and navigate through the iReport pins for each perspective in the story.


What's happening now
Just below the gallery, you'll see a ticker of the most recent activity on the Open Story, including a link to the most recently uploaded iReport as well as a link to see all of the iReports associated with this topic.


This part comes from a CNN producer, and adds written context to all the photos and videos above.


Latest additions
iReports are vetted -- which means they're fact-checked and verified -- before they're included in the Open Story gallery and timeline. The latest additions box shows all of the most recently posted iReports on this topic.


Just like on any story on - we're eager to hear what you think.

Posted by:
// March 22, 2011
 7 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: site, stories
Overheard on Crude oil or compassion? »


Comment of the day: "I think this is a necessary military action to stop a killer. Gadhafi made the mistake of his life. He is done. Remember, he and his son are wanted for crimes against humanity. I hope we get them soon and end this nightmare for the people of Libya." --Guest


U.S. official: Gadhafi's momentum stopped


Coalition forces bombed Gadhafi headquarters today and planned the next moves in the campaign to protect Libyan civilians. Some of our readers suggested that the main concern is not human rights, but oil. ethos76 said, “Amazing how the US and Europe were all buddy-buddy with the terrorist dictator only a couple weeks ago on behalf of oil corporations, and now, when there are internal armed conflicts in so many places around the world, the UN, US, EU step in. Interesting how having a little light sweet crude under your country can make such a difference!!”


Other readers were upset on behalf of African countries and elsewhere, where there had been no similar intervention. In explaining U.N. response to some of these conflicts, MrRodgers said, “First, if Western nations had gotten involved in Rwanda, we would have had to work against geography and tiptoe around a dozen proximate African nations who did nothing. Second, Cote d'Ivoire is an election dispute which has gone violent, not genocidal levels of warfare. Third, Libyans asked the outside world to intervene on their behalf, and the world reluctantly did so.”


TorukMakto said, “Just because there are genocides in other countries where the UN did nothing does not mean that the UN also has to ignore Libya. The idea that if you didn't save person A and person B in the past, you have no right to save person C is cruel and idiotic. There is never a good reason to just let people die.”


copanut said, “I may not be so naive as to think oil has nothing to do with it, but I'm also not so cynical as to think Western desire for Libyan oil is the reason for action. The dynamics are much more complex than that. There is no worldwide police force for dealing with every petty thug in every backwater nation. Libya's visibility, history, and strategic importance (yes, due to oil and location) make such an operation more reasonable than for some other random dictator.”


But KatRose77 warned, “Damned if you do...damned if you don't.”


Finding faith amid disaster


Disasters like that in Japan often provoke the question, “Where is God?” A CNN story struggled for an answer by posing this question to different spiritual leaders. John said, “It is wonderful to hear a Buddhist perspective on the disaster. As a Buddhist, I am often dismayed how in the discussion of faith, Christianity, Judaism and Islam seem to be the only sought-after players.”


Most of our readers wanted to discuss the existence or nonexistence of God. GoDog asked, “Where is God? Nowhere. Random planet, random life, random events, random life, repeat.”  And Ernest suggested that religious faith is merely a response to stress. “ ’Finding faith’ in a massively stressful situation is nothing more than a trick played upon one's mind. I would like to see more rational approaches to helping people cope with trauma than religious ones.”


Fastball said, “There is no external God but there can be God inside of everybody. That kind of God can make us compassionate, can make us care, can make us think about others before we look to ourselves.” And charles miller, a research scientist, said, “I have no concerns or doubts that God is real, that he cares and loves all mankind. I also believe he expects us to care for one another.“


SRinSCarolina said, “I think we cannot 'see' God yet. We only knew about atoms in the last seven decades. We just may not yet have the vision or the tools to 'see' God but that does not mean He is not here.”


Some of our readers took issue with the response of Sam Harris, who represents an organization dedicated to promoting “secular values.” George Bailey said, “What's striking to me is the compassion and meaning given by each of the entries except the atheist, who chooses to describe those with whom he disagrees as ‘stupid’ and ‘childish.’ “ profart agreed, “Boy, does Mr. Harris come off looking like a callous idiot. I hope he doesn't really represent atheists.” And Karen said, “Come on, CNN, the only atheist you could find is a callous jerk? Seriously?”


But Injun Trouble said, “There is but one sensible entry in this article, and it is Sam's. Period.”


AAP: Toddlers in rear-facing seat until 2


Keep those toddlers riding backwards one more year. The American Academy of Pediatrics has recently upgraded the minimum age to switch to the forward-facing car seat from one year to two, where age and height do not exceed seat limits.


FarCenterGuy joked, “In other news the AAP releases a report that all children under 17 should never enter a car.” cocolopez said, “I had my child encased in a solid polystyrene egg. It solved all of his safety problems.” CNCResearch said, “If it's safer for kids, why not make all seats rear facing? It may be hard to drive though.”


Some objected more seriously. 01566 said, “My child was very susceptible to motion. Putting her in a back seat facing backwards would have been child abuse.”


GawdAwful wrote, “I tried rear-facing once: my little girl was making some bizarre spitting/choking noise in the back and I panicked because I couldn't see her, took me the longest two minutes of my life to find a place to pull over. Nearly got into a wreck. I just never could feel calm in the car unless I could have a line of sight on my kids.”


DeanJimmy asked, “So what exactly was she doing?” GawdAwful replied, “She was choking on some spit up, and I got her out of her carseat and helped her clear it out right there on the side of the highway.”


bot123 asked, “Why is everyone whining about the new guidelines? Studies have proved over and over again that in car accidents, it is the children who aren't in car seats or booster seats that suffer mortal injuries. Children are supposed to be our most precious cargo. Don't you want to keep them safe???”


NatorMVP said, “It's funny where all these rules came from. How many hundreds of thousands of kids sat on the front seat of old cars without seat belts or airbags and grew up perfectly fine.” ScienceMom28 answered, “The kids who weren't fine riding like that aren't around to talk about it.”


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

Posted by: leahpine // March 21, 2011
 14 comments // Add a comment
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Overheard on Kudos for the no-fly zone »



Comment of the day: "The idea that a sovereign country can massacre its own civilians should be what is most worrisome. Intervention is a neutral tool, it is not intrinsically wrong by any means."




Opposition: Violence rages despite Libyan claim of cease-fire


Earlier today, The U.N. Security Council imposed a no-fly zone in Libya and authorized the use of force to protect besieged citizens. Many wrote to commend the French for their efforts to involve the international community.


JDonaldson said, “France stared Gadhafi down ... good work, Monsieur le Président.” No2Propagand said, “Vive la France! Love you French and thanks because of your effort to help Libyan people. France politicians have always been wiser than other super powers.“


But Richie1994 said, “Even though it was the British who pushed for the plan from the very start, when the US DoD simply batted the plans away... It was France that stared him down? If anything, it was more the British.”


ChadKruger said, “Damn, I love it when the U.N. actually accomplishes something. We made a difference without firing a single shot.”


To those who joked about the French and suggested the Libyans should handle their own revolution, Davidji said, “Wouldn’t be the first time a group of frustrated and oppressed rebels have depended on the French for help to fight a superior force.”


RU4RealIM said, “I ask, have you ever read a history book? Without the French we would still be an English colony.” Lanfeust said, “Maybe we should surrender when we came to save your nation against English. Pathetic!”


Some questioned why the U.S. should intervene in Libya, but not in Egypt. MuslimRevert answered, “Egypt was and is a completely different situation. You can't just lump all these uprisings into one category.” pradar1 said, “Mubarak gave in after the army sided with the people, the same with Tunisia. Gadhafi is different; some of his army and people sided with the opposition. He and his son stated they will die before they give up their power and used money to buy mercenaries.”


Many agreed with oendfuw, who said, “Pres. Obama has handled this situation very well.” TankThink replied, “Yes, he realizes that a just stance is much better than throwing your weight around recklessly. The good news is most of the rest of the world is impressed. Travel has become a joy again.”


Weekend full moon the biggest in about 20 years


Saturday’s full moon will be the closest in almost 20 years. For those with the clear skies to enjoy it, this “perigee moon” will be a large and lovely sight. KorbenDallas said, “Definite must-see if you haven’t before. I saw the '93 event while I was in Oregon. Saw it just above the trees in the lower cascades; it nearly filled half the sky.” SwimTiger said, “It's suppose to be raining where I'm at on Saturday. Let's see 2029, I'll be … just great: dead or blind.


But MrScience was reassuring. “Last month's full moon and next month's full moon will only be about one percent farther away (smaller). The apparent difference between the full moon and the day before and day after is bigger. So, if you miss this one, wait till next month and it will look about the same.”


Drumprof, like some other commenters, thought it was well known why low-hanging moons look unnaturally large.  Drumprof said, “When you look at the moon or sun low on the horizon you are looking at it sideways through more atmosphere than when you see it straight up. The amount air/atmosphere you look through is a "Convex Magnifier"... thus it appears larger. “


But many wrote to dispel that explanation. Hecep replied that NPR reporters “spoke with experts who agreed that the atmosphere has no magnifying effect. They simply checked this by comparing images taken of the Moon when it was low and high relative to the horizon; the size of the Moon did not change.”


HerbMinow agreed, “Get a caliper. If you can't find one, make one out of a paperclip. While the moon is low to the horizon, hold your caliper out at arm’s length, and adjust it to the circumference of the moon. Check back at various times of the night, and compare your measurements. Guess what? You won't have to readjust, because the moon will stay the same size at every point in its path!”


Hecep said, “When the Moon is low on the horizon, manmade structures, mountains, trees, the horizon itself -- now "near" to the Moon -- become scale references. The reason it looks so large low to the horizon is that you have other objects in your view to give it scale, so it looks larger. Further in the sky, it's all by itself, and it looks small.”


Austrain said, “Perspective, eh?” agHoff answered, “Nope! Optical Illusion.... Here is a nice article about it:”


Why aren't more women airline pilots?


Women make up only a small percent of career pilots flying today. Adelphus and many others thought the problem lies with their spatial ability. He said, “This is one of those jobs that falls into the gap of capabilities of men and women. When I started taking hang-gliding lessons I asked why there were so many more men. They said, ‘because this requires substantial spatial recognition, which is one of the skills that men are normally blessed with.’


But Cincpac306 replied, “You need to look into the NASA results of the experiments done during the Mercury program on a group of women. Your conclusions are incorrect. Women are superior to men in the types of multitasking concentration-intensive tasks that are required in flying, such as instrument approaches. For the record, I am male, and a commercial pilot.”


PSAGuy agreed, “As a 25+ year veteran of the flight deck and a captain for many years now, I have flown with many female FO's. They are professional, diligent, and I have enjoyed working with each and every one. They typically are much more tuned in to the minutiae of flight deck responsibilities than men, and take it in stride."


Navy64 said, “As a Navy pilot I've had the pleasure of working with female pilots. At my last squadron, twenty percent of the pilots and the two top pilots where women. On my last carrier tour the top pilot in the airwing was a female.”


Deblyn7 asked, “Aside from a love of flying, why the heck would anyone get into the airline industry now? My husband has been an airline pilot with a major carrier for more than ten years now. He has taken several cuts in pay and benefits.”


IkeAbootment agreed. “It used to be a nice career, with great pay and low stress. Now pilots have to log a lot more hours for a lot less money.” OcelotSpot said, “I'm a female airline pilot, and I love the flying, like the lifestyle, but the pay is horrible.”


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

Posted by: leahpine // March 18, 2011
 23 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: comments
Japan: One week later »

Today marks a week after a massive earthquake struck Japan, triggering tsunamis that caused widepread devastation and crippled a nuclear power plant. As relief efforts, evacuations, and rolling blackouts continue across parts of Japan, iReporters shared what their life in Japan is like one week after the quake.


Ken Tanaka, from Yokohama, Japan, said that like in many areas, supplies there are scarce. “It’s a ripple effect, there’s no food. Toiletries are missing,” he said.


Tanaka said many people across Japan are sending supplies to those in affected areas where food and water are limited. Even in the less affected region of Kyoto, Japan, where Tanaka is currently visiting relatives, he said resources and people are starting to dwindle.


“Now, 500 miles away, my cousin owns a bed and breakfast, and people are canceling their reservations,” he said. “A lot of embassies are telling people not to travel to Japan because of the nuclear situation.”


"Almost a ghost town," is the description Christina Ras, 23,  used to describe Tokyo, Japan, one week later. Although many of her classes have been postponed until April, Ras made her way to school on Friday where she captured photographs of the Tokyo’s empty streets near the Shinjuku train station. Ras said some of her classmates left Japan and are now in countries like Korea and China. But going back to her home in the Philippines does not seem like an option to Ras now that ticket prices have doubled.


“'It's very hard ... you don't do much, and you have to always anticipate the aftershocks, and when the aftershock is happening, you don't know if it's going to get stronger,” she said. “And then, the nuclear power plant, the radiation ... I am frightened, but it's hard to just go home.”


Stay or leave? Derek Kwok and his wife had a baby the day after the earthquake. Originally from Canada, Kwok said his parents are concerned and want him and his family to leave Japan. But now, a week later, Kwok said the thought of leaving Japan is difficult especially since he has a newborn and in-laws.


“I don’t know if it is really that easy to leave,” Kwok said. “If something happened to my in-laws, what then?”


We’ve been amazed at the incredible stories coming out of Japan. If you’re there, send us an iReport on what is happening in your area.

Posted by:
// March 18, 2011
 0 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: stories
Overheard on NPR in Republican crosshairs »


Comment of the day: "During the Second World War, Winston Churchill’s finance minister said Britain should cut arts funding to support the war effort. Churchill’s response: ‘Then what are we fighting for?’ " --allanhowls


House to vote on bill that would stop NPR funding


The House of Representatives passed legislation Thursday that would bar federal funding for National Public Radio -- a longtime target of conservatives irritated by what they consider the outlet's liberal bias. While the measure was expected to pass the GOP-controlled House, it is believed to have little chance of clearing the Democratic-controlled Senate. Commenters responded in defense of the public broadcasting network.


LiberalNewz2 said, “I may not always agree with NPR but they are one of the last bastions of media that isn't beholden to corporate interests and we need to keep it that way.” rescue said, “The only thing NPR is guilty of is being pretentious at times, but a finer news source you will not find in the States.” Tetons101 said, “I believe NPR gives a little sense of community in the smaller towns across this nation. I say keep NPR speaking the truth!”


Many were angry about how the secretly taped video of an NPR fundraising executive was “edited.“


Mrelia said, “I was surprised to hear about those comments. I watched the edited video and was quite shocked. Then I saw the whole video with all the comments in their original context. Catching someone acting egregiously is one thing, manipulating their words to cause trouble is another.“ MeanOldMan said, ““Those tapes were so taken out of context and chopped up that even Beck commented on it. The remarks about the Tea Party folks was actually the guy quoting Republican sources. “


quisp65 said, “All news is edited. It's just liberals who say “OMG it's edited and it fools all the sheep.” BinaryTruth answered, “Untrue. Editing is what legit organizations do to fit content to their allotted time schedule. Doctoring tapes and news is what Republicans like O'Keefe do to lie.”


Some questioned why cutting off public funding was a problem. Kate2010 said, “Oh please, run some ads. People will survive without NPR.” Slag said, “They don't want the money. Why do you want to force it on them?”  quisp65 said, “It is a market that can survive on it's own, even its members say it. In a time of limited government fund: to pay for something that is not needed is ridiculous.”


But goodidea  said, “Our investment in NPR is incredibly small and the return is enormous.” alleygator said, “These same Republicans who want to strip NPR of its paltry funding recently voted to continue 46 billion in taxpayer subsidies to oil companies that are already drowning in cash. They also voted to continue subsidies to many corporations that are exporting American jobs to foreign countries.”


Tina Fey feels Gwyneth Paltrow's pain


Tina Fey expressed a moment of empathy for Gwyneth Paltrow: They are both high-powered working moms who sometimes miss their children.  But as Fey said, “talk about being a working mother” and “people eat your face.” Many wrote that neither Fey nor Paltrow had a right to complain.


Doonerist said, “They have help, lots of it. Not the same as your average person. And they take enormous amounts of time off. Also not like your average person.” Lynn542 said, “I like Tina Fey, but she chooses to do all this extra stuff, for which she is obscenely overpaid. She could probably just do her TV show and she would be fine. It's not like she's holding down two jobs working at McDonalds and cleaning houses!” DenizenKate said, “While I admire Tina Fey and Gweneth Paltrow as entertainers and working mothers, they both have two things I didn't have when I was raising my son: husbands, and money.”  animaguskatt said, “Both do make mothering easier. Not easy, but easier.” foxy87 said, “Tina's not whining; she's winning. Paltrow, however; definitely whining.”


Some were more forgiving. animaguskatt said, “They're just like us, only richer and better looking.” bowlproblems said, “Mo money, mo problems.”


Others wrote to express enthusiasm for Fey and her work. TexasBrett said, “Love her!” kazoshay said “Tina Fey is my idea of the perfect woman. even if she is 12 years older than me.” HollyJasHaw said, “ I want Palin to become president just so Fey can revive her on SNL weekly. SNL just isn't the same without ol' Sarah ‘shoot-em up’ Palin.”


Dad turns college admissions nightmare into comedy



It’s almost springtime, and college applications are in the air, or at least in the post. You might think our readers would agree that the process is difficult, for parents as well as for children. But an interview with a parent who wrote a comic memoir about the process brought a charge of “helicopter parenting” from many of our commenters.


Erinissuper said, “I have no idea what this guy is talking about. The college admission process is not very difficult. You fill out an application, submit your grades and recommendations, and then hope you make the cut. This myth that applying to college is complex and difficult is ridiculous.“


response2cnn said, “A typical example of helicopter parenting. My parents couldn't care less about my grades nor did they encourage sports or attend any of my varsity sports events. I still managed to get into an Ivy League college.”


Carlee77 said, “Call me when the dust settles from Choppah Pappa's copter blades.” kaosbear said, “They should put his parents’ names on the diploma as well.” JCizze said, “His kid will drop out after two semesters.”


Some had first-hand experience from the college perspective.  Serene1111 said, “The financial aid process can be troublesome for youngsters, no doubt, but I work at a college and some parents take things too far. They call for the kids and impersonate them to get access to their accounts and to do things for them.” VLBElder said, “My husband worked in a college admissions office. The people in the office made fun of the students whose parents came in and did everything for them. Do your kid a favor and let them do it. If you did your job right, they're capable of it.”


sigs88 agreed. “If your child cannot figure the process out on their own, you don't need a book on how to get them into college, you need a book on how to raise a competent child in the first place. “


As for the pain of that empty nest? That might be something to look forward to.  dybo said, “I remember my wife and I felt guilty dropping our son off at college as a freshman, and we drove home sort of depressed. After fifteen minutes we were just fine and yippy skippy.”


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

Posted by: leahpine // March 17, 2011
 64 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: comments
CNN iReport weekly roundtable »

Please join us for this week’s iReport roundtable discussion today at 3 p.m. ET. It’s been an eventful week, to say the least, so let’s all catch up. Looking forward to taking your questions!

Posted by:
// March 17, 2011
 115 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: community
John Oliver's a stand-up gent »

John Oliver


The CNN photo booth at SXSW is burning at a mean clip now, ferreting out all sort of unique folks  and finding out what they've got in their bags. As luck would have it, one very interesting person showed up to grace us with his particular  brand of British wit: John Oliver of "The Daily Show." Oliver is out and about in Austin this week, doing a smattering of stand-up performances and soaking in the scene. He stopped in to get his picture taken, and for an interview with us.

Jason Travis, architect of the Persona photo series and imprimatur of our booth, was on hand to capture the moment (see above). "John was pretty interested as soon as he walked up and looked at the booth," Travis said when I interviewed him about his SXSW  experiences. "He's a big Mets fan, as you can tell from the hat. He also  had an amazing piece of signed paper from a famous soccer player that  he's had in his wallet since he was 12."

And in a development that should surprise no one, Oliver's British accent is "just as charming as it is on 'The Daily Show.'" If you're in Austin this week for the festivities, make sure to stop by  the CNN booth at the trade show and get your own Persona photo taken!

Posted by: jmsaba // March 17, 2011
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Posted in: stories
Celebrating St. Patrick's Day: I see green! »

Green is the new black. Well, for today it is, anyway. St. Patrick's Day is one of the only times besides Halloween when sporting bright green hair and chugging murky green beverages will more likely draw smiles than questionable stares.


Originally a religious holiday honoring a popular Irish patron saint, St. Patrick's Day has transformed into a popularized event in many parts of the world. In the United States, the holiday ushers a whole range of festive antics.


The Chicago River is dyed green each year to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. In the run-up to the holiday, Mark Goble was sitting in his office when he saw a fluorescent cloud of green dye drifting through the river and decided to catch it on video.


Photographer Rachel Cauvin said St. Patrick's Day is celebrated more traditionally in Throggs Neck, New York. On Sunday, emerald-colored bagpipers marched with school children in the annual parade. Cauvin said her favorite part of the parade was seeing children and even pets dressed up in green.


Jenna Leigh Shelerud also ran into St. Patrick's Day bagpipers -- in an unexpected place. While photographing the heated political climate in Madison, Wisconsin, on Monday, Shelerud noticed some protesters taking the time to celebrate the holiday a few days early.


"It was beautiful to see a  breath of fresh air and celebration in the area; you couldn't help but smile. The capitol held Irish infused guests and talented bagpipe players," Shelerud said. "It was simply beautiful."


Are you celebrating St. Patrick's Day? Have fun, and please share your images with CNN iReport!

Posted by:
// March 17, 2011
 3 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: stories
Overheard on Is nuclear energy too dangerous? »


Comment of the day: “Build a reactor in my backyard and place an oil drill in the front. Odds are nothing will ever happen.” – focker


Japanese crisis sparks U.S. concerns


Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, says Japan is facing the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl and that lessons of the nuclear emergency will be crucial for the U.S. industry. readers shared their opinions regarding nuclear plants, the energy they generate and the safety concerns they create.


moiraesfate said, “EVERY house needs to have mandatory high-efficiency solar panels installed on their roofs. Yes, this means that some people will be out of jobs as the power plants are shut down, but new jobs will be created to maintain them.” poink said, “We need to stop harnessing nuclear weapon tech for power and use something like LFTR (liquid fluoride thorium reactor) to accomplish the same thing. We can build reactors that shut down rather than melt down when things go wrong and harness fuel materials that are more abundant, less dangerous, and can't be readily converted for use.” phoenixzion said, “Solar and wind do work. They are not allowed to compete realistically though because of heavy incentives to every other form of energy.”


drac812 said, “Nuclear energy is one of the safest/cleanest ways outside of wind/solar to produce energy. This article seems to take advantage of a tragedy and try to push some kind of hidden agenda. Like coal mines don't collapse or oil drilling rigs don't explode right? Drill baby drill correct?” LaJollaRich said, “Nuclear power is the cleanest, safest option we have to date. And we still burn too much fossil fuel.” But Tacitus6 responded, “No technology that creates thousands of pounds of waste so toxic that it can kill on contact, which remains deadly for millenia, and for which we have not even a hint of a plan for disposal, can be called "clean."


dkdshie said, “Oil also creates catastrophic events, like Iraq! Pick your poison and stick with it.” And geologyj said, “When a nuclear power plant fails, it's a spectacular disaster; but the ‘failure’ of the other forms of energy production is like a slow, unseen drip of a faucet, probably much more dangerous in the big picture. And ‘clean’ energy appears neither all that efficient or as clean as touted.”


U.N. division frustrates


The U.N. Security Council is considering a new draft resolution that includes a no-fly zone over Libya, but council nations remain divided on the no-fly zone proposal. The United States declines to take a public position.  With the rebels losing ground to Gadhafi’s forces, readers were frustrated by the inaction and mainly with the United Nations.


jdvoo said, “The U.N. should go in and arrest Gadhafi for genocide then they won't need a fly zone. Brian1776 said, “Who cares if they are divided? Give it another week and all the revolts will have been squashed and the people who revolted will be buried. Then it won’t matter what the U.N. decides.” libdisorder said, “The U.N. is always divided over something. Other than wasting money, the U.N. serves no purpose.” lkevin said, “Dear U.N.: Take your time deciding, but if you click one story over you can read about how Gadhafi is ‘pounding’ rebels in another town to take it back. Maybe that will help [you decide].” ANDROCLESTOP said, “Franklin D. Roosevelt, the father of United Nations, would never have dreamt of a U.N.'s inability to take decisive action against Gadhafi's tyranny. The U.N. needs to produce a new policy of making quick decisions during world crisis.” moneywagon2 said, “Good. We'll just wait on it because that worked so well in Rwanda/Bosnia/Somalia, etc., etc., etc.”


Coming soon: A new Duggar baby


Three months from now, the super-sized Duggar family will add another baby to its clan. Josh Duggar, 23 -- the eldest son of Jim Bob and Michelle -- and his wife Anna, 22, are expecting their second child. If you’re counting at home, that will bring the Duggar’s immediate family size to 24 (including Jim Bob’s wife). Some readers remain mystified by the Duggars’ need to breed while some supported their right to choose.


jurby said, “Hopefully they have the brains to cap their brood at a couple rather than being like his parents and breeding a frickin’ herd.” Scree said, “This is Bob Barker here to remind you to help control the human population. Have your Duggar spayed or neutered.” Janders1975 said, “The Duggars are no different than animal hoarders or shopaholics who can't stop buying shoes. They just choose to hoard people instead. There has to be some kind of pathology that goes along with their obsession for having more and more children and for never feeling like they have enough.”


georgetown said, “I personally would not choose their lifestyle, and I'm definitely not a believer in the bible. But guess what? Michelle is a very kind and likable woman. If her kids are half as nice as she is, she can have 50 and the world would be a better place." bgoins23 said, “I met this family and I can say that every single one of them are the kindest, most down-to-earth people. The children formed their own thoughts and expressed themselves very well without being told what to do and what to say. Very well mannered children who have their own personalities.” RendarSelin said, “Congrats to the young Duggars for their second child. May God bless him and your family! I might not agree with the Duggars, but to wish them ill is terrible and very disturbing. We're all people. Let's wish God's blessings on us all!” And dalis said, “Funny how "her body, her choice" falls by the wayside when someone has more children than the (birth) control freaks approve of.”


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 // March 16, 2011
 21 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: comments
Overheard on Is your job making you depressed? »


Comment of the day: “I think Drew Carey said it best: ‘Oh, you hate your job? Why didn't you say so? There's a support group for that. It's called everybody, and they meet at the bar.’ ” --jsmith111


When your job is too miserable


Is having no job better than having one that makes you completely unhappy? A new study suggests that some jobs are so demoralizing they're actually worse for mental health than not working at all.


So what did readers think of the story? Many of them could relate.


cybury said, “This article is so true. As a victim of the great I.T. crash of 2001 I went from having an awesome career to crap jobs run by exploitive employers who gave themselves bonuses and salary increase all the while crying poverty and offering employees zero percent increases.” adimit said, “This article is right on about bad managers. The best thing that ever happened to me is finding a better job and better career.”


StarStuff80 said, “I walked away from a high-stress, no-appreciation position seven months ago. My wife said she got her ‘old husband’ back about two weeks afterwards. Fortunately, we were financially able for me to step back and search for the right position for me. I'm still looking, but my mental health is much better since leaving.”   RootinTootin said, “Many people who have managed to keep their jobs are now made to feel overwhelmed, insecure about their employment, underpaid, and micromanaged by managers who have realized they can now get away with that sort of treatment.”


And there were many readers who said any job is better than having no job at all. greg70 said, “Work is work. Sometimes you have to take the crappy job before the good job comes up." lokii said, “Having any job is better than long time unemployment. Let’s see how your mental health suffers when your self-worth takes a big hit, there’s no food on the table, your power gets cut off and the bill collectors are calling nonstop.” And JKineSeeds13 said, “What is this article supposed to be? Another excuse for unemployed people to stay on the couch and watch ‘The Price Is Right’ ?”


A few readers said it’s possible to find jobs they actually like. briancmyers said, “Do what you enjoy for a living and you'll never have to work a day in your life.” And emmasdad said, “Of all the people in the world, 95% of them hate their job. The other 5% love their job. We all make choices in life to be in that 5%.”


Gottfried gets flack, loses Aflac


The Aflac duck is looking for a new voice. Comedian Gilbert Gottfried, the high-pitched funnyman behind the commercial quack, was fired less than an hour after he tweeted jokes about the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. reader’s opinion about the firing varied.


ArickM said, “If you’re going to make a joke in bad taste, it should at least be funny.” MrsFizzy said, “Ah, another victim of Twitter addiction!” surfsouthbay said, “Sadly I think saying ‘Aflac’ was the most impressive of Gottfried's unimpressive career.”   Impishbrat said, “(The disaster in Japan) is a tragedy, yes. But he is a comedian who is supposed to try to find humor in all the misery of the world. People really, really make me sad sometimes.” And Brendan127 said, “Humor has always been a defense against tragedy. It is what gets most of us through tragic events.”


Diablovtpa pointed out that this line of joking isn’t new for the comedian. “Gottfried darkly joked about 9/11 three weeks after it happened at the roast of Hugh Hefner and then made jokes about the death of fellow comedian Greg Giraldo (who likely would have chuckled at them) the day of his death. Now we all act surprised he makes jokes about this? Come on folks. The time to be shocked by Gottfried was years ago.”


DontForget1 said, “Aflac already has the most annoying commercials around. They should fire the guy that thought they were good.” And margd responded, “Gee ... I always kind of liked the Aflack duck.”


Baby Joseph may get tracheotomy


A 1-year-old child born with a deteriorating neurological condition -- his Canadian doctor has legally declared there is no hope for a recovery -- may receive the tracheotomy procedure his parents have been pushing for in the United States.  Most readers said they thought it was time for the parents to let go, while a few understood their decision.


JennyTX said, “I'm all in favor of saving lives, but I don't think this baby is really alive anymore. No hope for recovery, no brain function.” bbare89 said, “I don't get these ‘pro- life’ Christians. If they believe that the child will get into heaven, why delay it and have him suffer on Earth?” zamboni said, “Come on everyone. Death is inevitable for all of us. What we must decide and agree on is what constitutes a dignified life and a dignified death. I see nothing dignified about the way this child is being kept alive and now I doubt he will have a dignified death.”  nicki1980 disagreed, “I cannot blame the family for trying to do everything they can. If I were ever put in the position of having to allow my child to die, I'm sure I would just go completely out of my mind. I've followed this story and it does appear hopeless, but if the family is waiting for a miracle, I sure hope they get it. My best wishes go out to them.”


Frenchcanadi shared, “I had a little girl who was anacephalic. She was essentially a vegetable. I rocked her to death, literally, for over 37 hours. It broke my heart. I got pregnant in 1978 and underwent monthly ultrasounds and amniocentesis three months along despite the inherent risks of losing the pregnancy. There was no way on Earth I wanted another child to have the same affliction. I went on to have healthy sons, but there is never a time I don't remember my daughter.”


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 // March 15, 2011
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And the CNN iReport Award winners are ... »


CNN iReport's Lila King on Thursday announced the winners of the first-ever CNN iReport Awards. We are so proud of all of the nominees and are honored to have so many talented people in the CNN iReport community.


The winners are:


Breaking news: Michael Roberts (Early images of Deepwater Horizon fire)


Personal story: Faithe Chu (My escape from Vietnam)


Compelling imagery: Mugur Vărzariu (Abandon Valley)


Commentary: James Amerson (Dear Gulf, I'll miss you)


Original reporting: Percy von Lipinski (Bison as pet)


Interview: Tristan Macaraeg (16-year-old interviews classmate on living in foster care)


Community Choice Award: Samantha Bolton (Clearing cluster bombs on the Ho Chi Minh Trail)


Learn more about the winners here.


The iReport team also chose five Spirit Honorees, who have distinguished themselves for their positive attitude, willingness to try new things, promotion of the community and personal growth: Janie Lambert; Shari Atukorala; Omékongo Dibinga; Julio Ortiz-Teissonniere; and Sherbien Dacalanio.


2010 was a remarkable year for CNN iReport, and the winners of the CNN  iReport Awards demonstrate the depth and passion iReporters bring to every story. We congratulate the winners and thank the nominees and the 750,000 registered members of the CNN iReport community.

Posted by:
// March 15, 2011
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Posted in: community
Overheard on Dear Japan, how can we help? »


Comment of the day: "I'm only fifteen, so I don't have much to offer. How can I physically do more? I wish I could go over there to help. But I don’t think they'd send a teenager, even if she has a parent come too." --Lexy


Tsunami aid and relief: How you can help


As video, photos and stories portraying the devastation continue to pour out of Japan, many wrote to ask how they could help. JohnnyB said, “I am a college student in Michigan. There's only so much I can donate, money-wise, but I would like to get others involved in a fundraiser perhaps or just to donate anything that is needed: clothing, food, water. Are there any organizations, locally, where we could donate such items or proceeds?"


Bvilleyellowdog said, “Don't send stuff, send money.” Scrantonian agreed, “Most charities don't want physical items because then they have to gather, ship, and re-distribute them. You're better off soliciting monetary donations or soliciting larger in-kind donations from businesses that can deliver them.”


Beth said, “Check out give accurate stats backed up by financial statements filed with the government and show you where your money goes when you donate. HATTIE asked, “I can only mail payments. Where can I mail to Red Cross?” Leslie answered, “Give them a call and they will tell you where to send donations: 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767)."


Springs said, “I just wish I could do more than send money right now, though.” Ralf The Dog answered, “Anything other than money tends to get in the way. People going to the affected region would just be more people who need to be fed and housed. You can help in future disasters here at home by taking Red Cross classes. The next time your town gets hit by a tornado, wild fires or a quake, you can be one of the people on the front lines.”


Starman said, ‘A lot of people seem to feel the need to physically participate. I don’t think they want or can accommodate any people coming in; that would further strain their very limited resources. The people they want are specialists in disaster recovery and they are already there or on the way.”


But some who responded did seem to have special expertise. dave said, “I'd like to go help in the cleanup and reconstruction. My company does general engineering (utilities, grading), as well as demo and recycle concrete crushing. If this happened here, we'd be fixing broken water mains, gas lines, sewers, fixing roads and clearing rubble and trash. I hope that someone empowered gets back to me.”


Richard said, “I am currently enlisted in the army reserves as 68M (nutrition care specialist) in a CSH. What can I do?” BobC answered, “I would recommend contacting your unit, and asking if volunteers are needed. I have no idea if they are able to ‘activate’ reserve members to go, but someone in your chain of command should know. Try the most senior chaplain you can find if your unit doesn't have any clue.”


Ralf The Dog had a final suggestion: local sushi restaurants could hold a Red Cross fundraiser. “All the vegetarian sushi you can eat with the money going to a good cause. What could be better?”


Superhuman or super sleepy: Short sleepers function on four hours


Sleep has been in the news lately.  An earlier story, CDC: 1 in 3 adults sleep less than 7 hours, discussed people who don’t get enough sleep. Today a story about people who don’t need much sleep coincides with the return of daylight saving time.


Some wrote that they didn’t need much sleep, either. Chooch0253 said, “I function fine on about five hours a night. Have for well over 40 years. “ Guest  agreed, “This was very interesting to me. I sleep four hours per day. Never considered it a problem. “


Others said sleep was too good to give up. iamacat  said, “Forget about necessity, who would want to give up the only time when one has no chores/responsibilities, gets to live in a fantasy world of his/her own creation, cuddle up with spouse/children? Is your job THAT good? “ nursechris1 said, “Sleep is highly underrated as an enjoyable activity. Bliss in the arms of Morpheus!”


Many wrote to complain about the loss of that crucial hour on Sunday. sezyou  said, “Daylight Savings Time is evil. If I could put my hands around it I would strangle it.  Lyrker said, “It's an archaic concept. Ben Franklin thought it up to try and save candles. I think we're beyond the point where not having enough candles is a crisis. “


And many were envious. MomofThree66 said, “Can they inject ME with that? I've always needed 10 hours!”


Purrchance asked, “If working hours are so normal, why do most of us need alarms clocks? On my first day of retirement, I set the clock for 6:00 a.m. as I had been doing for years, with one exception: This time, there was a hammer lying beside it.”


On Pi Day, is ‘pi’ under attack?


“Today,” said the teacher, “I am going to explain how to find the area of a circle: the formula is pi are squared.” “But teacher,” replied a student, “that can’t be right! Pi aren’t square; cornbread are square. Pi are round.”


OK, a bad joke, but one that has helped many recall the equation. And there were plenty of pastries and math at Pi Day celebrations around the country today.


Some objected to CNN’s warning about math equations. PhilSandifer said, “ I am glad to see high school geometry carry a warning that this is "hefty math." I hope CNN will soon expand this policy and warn about hefty geography whenever they mention foreign countries less well-known than Spain; and hefty English whenever they use four-syllable words. Why should math be the only subject we consider it socially acceptable to be ignorant of, after all.“


DougGross answered, “Thanks for the comment. ‘Hefty,’ in this case, meaning more than one would expect in a typical news story. And, hey, it's Monday morning. Some of us are mathier than others before coffee. “ CmnSnse9876 said, “CNN, at least move this article out of the "tech" section! “


Others saw the debate over pi and tau as an opportunity for fun. drfireman said, “Pi and 2pi or tau and half-tau? This discussion is just going around in circles.” WxWizard answered, “Why not have both? That way you can have Pi and eat it Tau!! “


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

Posted by: leahpine // March 14, 2011
 36 comments // Add a comment
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Empty your pockets, SXSW! »



If you're in Austin for SXSW this week, be sure to visit CNN iReport at the Trade Show. We'll be hosting a data-driven photo booth and hope to learn a bit about the people who attend SXSW and the stuff they carry.


This photo project is inspired by the Persona photography series, the brainchild of Atlanta shutterbug Jason Travis. (Travis will also be attending SXSW to perform with his band, Sealions, and to take Persona photos at the CNN Grill.) Our booth has a simple enough concept: Snap a portrait picture of someone, and another picture of the contents of their bag, purse or pockets sorted out on a flat surface. Then, put the two images side by side for a candid (and often surprising) look at the things you carry and what they say about you.


SXSWi is the go-to destination for techies of every stripe, and this is a great way to get a glimpse at the latest must-haves in gadgetry and personal technology. The CNN iReport team has a booth set up for visitors to get their own photo collage taken à la Persona, which we'll then digitally deliver to you. (They make for awesome profile pictures, if we do say so ourselves—see above.)


Starting right now, you can take a look at people's photos, catch the highlights and join in on the fun in real-time on CNN's SXSW blog. And in the coming days, we're going to take an in-depth look at what festivalgoers are carrying around, highlighting the most interesting quirks and trends we've uncovered. Come join us at the iReport booth at the SXSW Trade Show from Monday, March 14, through Thursday, March 17, and say cheese!

Posted by: jmsaba // March 14, 2011
 0 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: stories, stories
Overheard on Dear Japan, you are not alone »


Comment of the day: "There is no such thing as earthquake-proof, but when it comes to preparedness, no other country is more prepared for an earthquake than Japan. While it is tragic, I am sure their efforts have saved thousands, if not more." --iThoughtS0



Widespread destruction from Japan earthquake, tsunami



After the earthquake shook Japan and the tsunami rolled over it, there were the expected comments: Christians and Muslims quoting scripture about the end of the world, environmentalists weighing in about global warming and whales, and speculation about the influence of the moon.


But at its best, there were human beings writing from Japan as the quakes happened, and human beings reaching out their hands, electronically, to tell them they were not alone.


Autumngarden said, “I live in Kanto, the center of Japan, not the epicenter, but still now I sometimes feel shakes. How many times I try, I cannot contact my friends living in the northern parts of Japan. My sister, who works in Yokohama, cannot come home because of the paralyzed traffic. She has to stay her company this night. People living in every coast area are warned off the coast. Japanese have experienced quakes many times, but not such a nationwide one. Tonight many Japanese people would not be able to sleep.”


Bozotron suggested “2011 Japanese Earthquake Crisis Center by Google:“ And djalbo said, “Hope all your family and friends find their way home safely. Our hearts are with you.”


yauoo  said, “I am in Tokyo now. Tokyo also shook very severely. And the shake involved almost all the areas in Japan. Especially the northeast area in Japan is in a destructive state. At least 300 persons were killed by tsunami.” crzybtch07 answered, “Be safe. My thoughts and prayers go out to you and everyone there.”


bigbisou said, “I'm trying to locate my friend. We haven't heard from her at all, which is unlike her. Does anyone know if the Japanese gov't is posting names? “ Numonly answered, “Try Google Person Finder.” bigbisou answered, “Thank you kindly.”


Blasius said, “I found my friend in Tokyo safe, and I am so so so glad.“


Bushidou  said, “My living area is much safe but Tokyo, Sendai are especially damaged. Thanks warm comments. I tell these warm comments to Japanese friends on Twitter.“ lestalk said, “The world's thoughts are with you today. Your country will not be alone.“ Opeth31 said, “Be safe. You and the entire area affected are in our thoughts. You guys won't be forgotten. US and other countries are already planning to help out in all ways possible.“ lionofallah said, “Take care.“ ZenZing  said, “We wish you the best and hope that any aid you need will be supplied.”


Bushidou said, “I thank people all over the world who post warm comments here. It's hard time for us but we never lose hope. It is midnight now but I don't feel alone because you encourage us. From Fukuoka Japan."


How can teen athlete deaths be prevented?



Four teenage athletes recently died during sports events. Unfortunately, this is not statistically unusual, but some physicians are calling for more screenings for athletes. Some of our readers thought this was a good idea.


dtboco3 thought requiring ECGs was a good idea. “If children test ‘abnormal’ then they should be temporarily held out of sports. Once they have had further testing, they can either be cleared or not cleared to play.” gsbarce  agreed, “Perform physical examinations before they are permitted to join the team. As with many jobs in the public sector, you must pass the requirements first. Just because you look fit doesn't mean you are.“


civiltruth  responded, “Screening high-school athletes sounds like a good idea, but let’s be realistic. If there are more than 300,000 college athletes, then there are millions of high-school athletes. Extra screenings and testing is going to cost millions more in money. I think educating kids and parents on the possible things that could happen is a better idea.”


Some people thought you can’t escape destiny.  s1ag  said, “What a foolish premise for a serious news article. You might as well ask if death is preventable.”


Others blamed the coaches. sunilbhai said, “Coaches are becoming very aggressive and arrogant. They are pushing kids so much in order for them to stay in the team that poor kids have no choice but to keep quiet even if they are not well.“


ChrisFromVA said, “Not sure how it can really be preventable. Sports require fitness and athleticism. So coaches will try to push kids beyond their limits to get the best out of them.“ dtboco3 said, “Coaches push you to be the best you can, but not to the point of injury. At least not any coach I ever had.“


response2cnn said, “Ninety-nine percent of kids who are pushed will deal with it or quit. It's the one percent who have undetected heart problems that are the issue. Yes, there are crazy coaches, but they aren't causing this problem. This problem has only been publicized in the last five years or so; many kids have died before.“


White House conference tackles bullying


You might think that a White House conference about bullying would elicit personal stories. And it did, from President Obama, who shared that he himself was bullied as a child. Most of our readers, however, were more interested in moving the discussion to a political level.


vegas01 said, “He has the nerve to speak against bullying after giving us Obamacare against our will? Actions speak louder than words, sir!“ Voice4Libert said, “Wasn't the cramming of the Health Care Bill a form of bullying?”


thinking12 replied, “It wasn't crammed. It took a year to get it through. Many things in the bill were GOP ideas that they decided to demonize as soon as the Democrats supported them. Palin's Death Panel? Came from a provision involving end of life counseling introduced by Johnny Isakson, a Republican.


yellarose said, “The president encounters ‘bullies’ daily. They're called ‘Republicans,’ ‘tea partiers,’ and ‘birthers.’ ”


bniles57bk  said, “The republic is going down in flames, and this is what Obama is focused on? What a complete and utter disappointment of a President.“ Lucifrix answered, “Indeed -- trying to create a better life for our kids, what the heck is he thinking?“


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

Posted by: leahpine // March 11, 2011
 41 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: comments
Earthquake in Japan: Eyewitness accounts »

In the moments and hours following Japan's deadly earthquake and tsunami Friday, CNN iReport has received personal accounts from dozens of people in affected areas from Tokyo to Hawaii to Southern California.

In Fukushima, Japan, about 155 miles north of Tokyo, English teacher Ryan McDonald grabbed his iPod Touch as the earthquake shook his home. He later spoke with CNN International’s Jim Clancy about the chaos and the terror he felt while gas tanks were smashing together and he feared his building would fall.

At about the same time in Tokyo, Richard Dong of Shanghai and New York used his phone to capture footage of the earthquake as it happened from inside the Narita airport’s Delta lounge. He said parts of the ceiling fell off, objects like cups and glasses dropped, people started hiding under the tables and the lounge felt like it was “jumping.”

American missionary Mark John Bennett wasn't sure "if we were going to drop in the ocean or if the ocean was going to keep rising." He captured footage of water gushing out of the ground outside his home in Narashino, Chiba, Japan.


The quake spurred tsunami warnings for at least 50 countries or territories around the Pacific. Outside Waikiki, Hawaii, police moved through neighborhoods evacuating people, while guests at the Four Seasons Hualalai slept on the golf course, but remained in good spirits, said Greg Geertsen of Walnut Creek, California.

In California, some surfers ignored the warnings in search of big waves. San Diego iReporter Chris Morrow headed to Imperial Beach, where “locals felt no danger.” One surfer told her, “it may raise the tide a little bit, but it’s not a big deal. Plus, if you’re going to go, what else better way to go in life … than catching that big wave.”


Are you in one of the affected areas? If it's safe to do so, please share your images, footage and stories with iReport.

Posted by: dsashin // March 11, 2011
 3 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: stories
Overheard on Emotional hearings »


Comment of the day: "“We wish Muslims to be free and happy in Canada but we insist they are reasonable. Driving in a burka is not reasonable to us. It is dangerous. Asking for a thumbprint instead of a photograph on a driver's license or passport is not considered reasonable here." -- CanadianPOV


Emotions fly at controversial hearings on Muslim Americans


Many were outraged by a congressional investigation into the “radicalization of Muslim Americans,” launched Thursday. While Committee Chairman Peter King said the hearing was neither “radical or un-American,” many of our readers disagreed.


BubbleKush  said, “ The U.S. Congress has deteriorated into nothing but a dog-and-pony show. This witch hunt will go down in infamy.”  Plank said, “I am willing to give King his chance, but if the hearings are nothing more than Islam bashing, sorry folks, it is a witch hunt, similar to McCarthy and Nazism. “


Others questioned what the uproar was about. blah9999 asked, “Aren't the people in these hearings just talking about Islamic extremism? What's wrong with sitting around and talking about this? Islamic extremism shouldn't be the elephant in the room.”


lordbyron85 answered, “Maybe we can start by recalling the events after 9/11, when Muslim American businesses were broken into and vandalized, when many Muslim American families' lives were threatened, and when law enforcement merely turned a blind eye to all.”


Kiwimama suggested that if those in Muslim communities were disturbed, they should police their own. “What are the American Muslims doing to help prevent the homegrown Muslim terrorist? Muslim leaders need their ‘congregants’ to reach out in good ways to their fellow citizens, not trying to hide away or keep low profiles.” Slag asked, “How come these Muslims have never protested against Muslim terrorists?”


sw6blues1905  answered, “Why doesn't the Christian community come out and denounce extremist Christian activity.”  And Aarrgghh07 said, “Oh you mean just like the Italian communities stopped the Mafia? Or how the Irish communities stopped the IRA (which this congressman supports), or how the black and Hispanic communities stopped the gangs?”


Fear accompanies road to freedom


Recently, bonded laborers – workers in India bound to those who gave them or their forefathers an advance or a loan -- have been spotlighted in CNN’s series on slavery. Many commenters, apparently Indian, wrote to express horror. Some didn’t believe it.  Sampath suggested the laborers could not really understand the interviewer's questions in English and that laborers were necessary to extract natural resources. “If one person has a problem with a supervisor, it's not that everyone has. Correspondent should need more guidance on research.”


Ambika responded, “Do you know anything about bonded labor? Being defensive won’t help! If you don’t believe this report, there are hundreds of reports about this made by Indian media. Go read them! Enlighten yourself. Come to Tamilnadu (one of the states that boasts of high literacy rate), I'll show you. Go to Dharmapuri district and do some research. Bonded labor still exists in India. That’s the ugly truth.” Chirag agreed, “I am an Indian and I know one thing: India is only shining in the big cities. You don’t need to go far from a metro to see this happening all around us. It is one thing to have a child labor law and it’s completely different to enforce it.”


Many blamed the problem on the caste system. Abhishek said, “The people in the picture are from the lowest caste! And in shameless states like Uttar Pradesh such things are continuing in modern India! What a shame!” Loke said, “If Indians can’t shed off this caste system, which deprive the poor and enriches the landowners, India will never be able to catch up to China. I personally encountered a receptionist who is a Brahmin but she can’t attend an engineer friend’s wedding because he is of lower caste.“


Vivek replied, “Loke, wake up, I don’t know which India you have experienced firsthand. I know the caste system is bad, and I am against it. But it’s not as bad as you are portraying it to be.”  Sendhilkumar replied, “Vivek, Loke is correct. It is a curse upon Indians, and it doesn't matter what generation we are in. We may not witness people practicing caste system in the ‘world’ we live in unless we see the real world (where poverty prevails). If one person in the world sleeps in hunger, the day is meaningless. We see a lot of people spend their money in posh restaurants and people waste food in the same place where people die of hunger.”


Chirag said, “I applaud the hardworking non-governmental organizations who are trying their best to stop this but without the will and backing from the system, it will be many decades before this young boy will see India shining.”


Vegan diet for dogs: A question of thriving vs. surviving


How we love our dogs. But is it love to eliminate meat from their diets? A story about one person’s path to rid her dog of an ear infection got owners arguing.


Some thought it would work. HealingNews said, “I have had a Dalmatian for five years now.  I noticed she loved carrots and tomatoes and enjoys grazing on wild sunflower leaves. After putting her on a vegan diet, her skin improved, ear infection got better, missing fur came back, smelled better, and now at close to 11, is one of the healthiest dogs around!“ chiragp86  said, “I had a Doberman in India that was a vegetarian, not vegan, but he lived a full long life. Never fed him dog food; always gave him what we ate. I swear dog food is hyped up by corporations as a necessity for dogs and they don’t really need it. He was always healthy and energetic.”


Some agreed that any diet would be an improvement over commercial pet food.  trav202 said, “It seems to me that most of the benefits noticed in the diet are more the result of it being high-quality whole foods than it being vegan. If you're taking the time to cook meals for your dog, of course there's going to be some nutritional benefits. I'm not convinced that it's the lack of animal products.“


Like Poohbearnb, however, many thought that a vegan diet was “extremely selfish and unhealthy for the animal.” inyourhead00 said, “ Yeah, I can't see my 100-pound dog surviving on lettuce or carrots. Sorry, but that's just ridiculous.“ AnonVet said, “This is almost as ridiculous as someone feeding their rabbit or horse a strict diet of animal protein because they believe in the Atkins diet.”


OrUnreality said, “The dog can probably survive on a vegan diet for awhile, but expect major problems later on in life. Note the vet recommended a temporary change in diet, not permanent. And a home-prepared or raw diet for dogs is much healthier than prepared dog foods, so of course, temporarily the dog will show improvement. If you want a pet to eat a vegan diet, get a vegan pet, like an iguana.”


Jimvsmij said, “ I knew a girl who converted her dogs to vegan diets because she thought that the dogs should share her ethical views on killing. She was so proud of them, but later she found out that they got really good at hunting and eating rabbits and squirrels in the woods behind her house. There were carcasses littering the ground everywhere back there!“


Mandozink  said, “I can see the upcoming headline: ‘Meat-Deprived Dog Finally Eats Vegan Owner: Dog STILL Lacking Proper Protein.‘ "


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

Posted by: leahpine // March 10, 2011
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CNN iReport roundtable today at 3 p.m. ET  »

Join us today at 3 p.m. for the CNN iReport roundtable. It’s your “monthly Merv!” CNN media producer Merv Teo is back to answer your video and editing questions.

Come prepared with your questions for Merv and the rest of the iReport team, and we’ll see you at 3!

Posted by:
// March 10, 2011
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iReport from Gowalla! »


Here’s a little bit of awesome news: we just launched a new feature on iReport that invites you to post news from check-ins on Gowalla. (In case you don’t know: Gowalla is a social travel guide for people on the go.)


The way it works is pretty simple. If you check in to a place on Gowalla, and you spot news while you’re there, add a CNN iReport “Highlight” to tell CNN what you’re seeing. The Gowalla iReports will post on the Gowalla profile on CNN iReport. And, like always, CNN will vet the best and most interesting ones. If your Gowalla iReport gets vetted, you’ll get a fancy CNN iReport pin in your Gowalla passport! Cool.


If you’re on Gowalla, give it a try! We can’t wait to see what kinds of stories you uncover from all the places you visit.

Posted by:
// March 10, 2011
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We're iReporting from Austin -- join us? »


Team iReport, along with loads of CNNers, is heading to Austin, Texas, this weekend to capture the magic and insanity of SXSW. And we'd love for you to join us. If you're headed that way -- or even if you're just following along from home -- tell CNN what you find most interesting and important by sending your take to iReport. We'll be posting fresh challenges, questions and the occasional surprise on this iReport assignment and also on Twitter @CNNSXSW.


And, if you're attending the conference, stop by and say hi at the iReport Booth in the SXSW Tradeshow. We've got a little surprise planned there, too. It opens Monday, March 14 and runs through Thursday, March 17.


(P.S. That photo is a shot of the inimitable Sharon Jones performing at the 2010 SXSW festival. See all those cameras right up next to the stage? They could be iReporters. They could be you.)

Posted by:
// March 10, 2011
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Taking a stand to end slavery »




This week, CNN kicked off an international project with a big goal: ending modern-day slavery.


Over the next several months, the CNN Freedom Project will shine a spotlight on the horrors of human trafficking, highlight some of the success stories and share ways that everyone can make a difference.


CNN iReport and GOOD are partnering on a series of creative challenges that you can do to raise awareness about this crisis. For the first assignment, we’ve invited people to share a photo of yourself holding a sign that says “I’m taking a stand to end slavery” or a video with the same message.


It may seem small, but it’s a first step to gather what we hope will be a huge group of people around the world, all committed to spreading the word about an issue of which most of the public is unaware. Together, we hope to make a big difference in future Freedom Project challenges.


So far, iReporters in nearly 20 countries have taken the pledge. As Salome Van Leuven of Farnham, England, eloquently put it, the problem “will not be resolved if no one is aware of it.” She added, “a good campaign will make people start talking.”


How about you? Will you take a stand to end slavery? Take the pledge so you can take part in future Freedom Project challenges.

Posted by: dsashin // March 10, 2011
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Overheard on Oh, yeah. I was born this way »


Comment of the day: "Thankfully this wasn't a whole article about Lady Gaga's new song which is a horrible attempt to pander to the gay community." --Fallhammer


Website for born this way

Los Angeles-based DJ Paul V. has created a website that showcases childhood photos and stories submitted by adult gay men and women. He believes that the pictures demonstrate that being gay is innate, and he hopes the website will strengthen gay kids sense of self-worth.


The article did encourage readers to share their opinions.


Hypothesis1 said, “If being gay is a choice then I would urge any straight person to try and make that choice. Go ahead, give it a shot. Would you do it? Can you do it? Why would anyone do it unless that is who they are. Why would a person put themselves through all the hate? Why?” graygurl said, “I agree that children need our unconditional love, understanding and support!” XYZReveals said, “I think this story should not be national news yet. There is still too many bigots out there and this will add to the confusion of their simple minds.”


Rudegar said, “So because you see a photo of yourself acting what society might call feminine or just doing something funny and innocent it means you are gay?” Jlsppw said, “Nobody is born gay, it's a CHOICE just like any other choice.” Davie03 said, “It would seem that most of these innocent photos are being used by their owners to probably validate and reinforce their own belief that this is something natural. It is really ridiculous to think that all boys who have worn a dress or girls playing a pirate are going to be gay.”


mondaymonday said, “I have pictures of myself as a little girl, playing with plastic dinosaurs, toy cars, playing in the mud. While I like to look back at them, laugh and say, ‘Oh yeah! You could tell!’ I'm very much aware that, that one picture did not determine who I am today. I never even looked at them till years after I already just KNEW. And then it became more of a laugh than anything.”

No great choices for U.S. in Libya

As Libya heads toward a “protracted civil war,” James Lindsay, a senior vice president of the Council on Foreign Relations, author and former director for global issues and multilateral affairs at the National Security Council, identified seven unappealing options for U.S. involvement. Most readers say he missed the most obvious choice.


heresANoption said, “We don’t get involved. Great option there.” Mike said, “Why do we have to do anything? This once again is not our problem. Why do we have stick our nose into other countries business? We must have more money than common sense.” matthew mcjilton said, “One day we must realize to mind our own business.” Cvoracek said, “We do not have the resources( in either money or personnel) to be the world's policeman. Yes, it is tragic to watch, but I think it's time we heeded Einstein's definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result each time.” IsaG said, “As difficult as it may be, we should not intervene. There is a great opportunity in the region for the people to reshape their destinies.”


But Patty Brown said, “Why do we wait when there are so many innocent civilians at stake? I thought we were different. At the very least, we could stop his ability to harm his own citizens. I thought we encouraged democracy and discouraged tyrants! I guess only if the polls tell us that's the thing to do. Cmon President Obama! Worry more about the innocents than what the press will say.” And Jeff S said, “Time to give them payback for the Gipper.”


A Vet asked, “Why not just take out Ghadafi? We have laser guided bombs, drop one on his head. Simple. Clean. And we could have done the same to Saddam.” Jared said, “Option #1 should be assassinate Gadhafi with our highly trained special forces, RIGHT?”


Former RHWODC kicked off Celebrity Rehab


Real Housewives of D.C. reality star and White House party-crasher Michaele Salahi was asked to leave the television show "Celebrity Rehab" because she does not have an addiction, but many readers disagreed.


McHater said, “She addicted to doing stupid things!” Bubbleicious said, “She does have an addiction. It's called ‘Self Absorbed.’ “ buke56 said, “She’s an attention hound, hooked on celebrity just like Sarah Pay-off, but unlike Palin she actually got in the White House!”  Hildablue said, “Of course she has an addiction - two, actually. The first one is herself, and the second one is undeserved notoriety. But thank goodness VH1 is at least denying her one of her two drugs of choice.” GaBoy02 said, “Is bulmia or anorexia an addiction? I would believe she was addicted to that.” Billdoc said, “This woman does indeed have an addiction. Both she and her husband are addicted to getting attention! Their lives are crappy without them trying to grab every attention grabbing moment that they can.”



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 // March 9, 2011
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Month into triathlon training, six iReporters thriving »


When Dr. Sanjay Gupta finished the Nautica New York City Triathlon last year, he called the race "a transformative experience, both mentally and physically." Back in January, six iReporters dubbed the "six-pack" set out on a journey to prepare for one of the biggest challenges of their lives: training for their first-ever triathlon. They're only six weeks into training but they've experienced lots of changes, big and small.


Read up on their journey on CNNHealth's blog, The Chart, and help cheer them on. Congrats on your progress, six-pack!

Posted by:
// March 9, 2011
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Rolling out Mardi Gras »




Cheering crowds, festive parades, and glittering beads dressed the streets of New Orleans, Louisiana, Tuesday as the city celebrated Mardi Gras. Best known as a festival of merriment and celebration before the start of Lent, Mardi Gras literally translates to “Fat Tuesday” in French. Traditionally, Fat Tuesday was celebrated by eating rich, fatty foods before the start of Lent, also known as Ash Wednesday, but today it’s also an excuse to "laissez les bon temps roulez," or letting the good times roll. Although Mardi Gras is commonly associated with New Orleans in the United States, it is also a festival celebrated around the world and is internationally known as Carnival.


iReporter Eileen Romero, a lifelong resident of New Orleans, shared her Mardi Gras photos with CNN. Despite popular belief, the days leading up to Mardi Gras are full of events for all ages. Romero described the first weekend of the festival as a truly family event.


"The streets are lined with children -- as well as adults -- yelling for beads, stuffed animals, or anything else the riders on the floats may be throwing," she said.


The festival goes a lot deeper than just fun and partying, Romero says. Images of satire can be found on decorative floats, such as those in the parades put on by the Krewes of Chaos and Muses.


Local residents are not the only ones partaking in the celebration. Romero says that many of her friends from all over the country travel to Louisiana to celebrate Mardi Gras.


Even celebrities join in the fun. Romero captured a photo of CNN’s own Anderson Cooper, who was part of the Endymion parade on Sunday, and Romero even managed to snag an autograph.


"I was so in shock I didn’t even get a photo of him signing my cap," she said.  Did you attend Mardi Gras? Please send videos and photographs to share your festive experience.

Posted by:
// March 9, 2011
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Overheard on Walker declines border meeting »


Comment of the day: “Walker is labor's best organizer in years. Lol.” –nonoligarch


Meet us at the border


When the 14 Wisconsin state senators who physically left the state in opposition to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed budget offered to meet him at the border, the governor not so politely declined. Now the senators say they will not return until "collective bargaining is off the table."


So what did readers think about the standoff?


GenerikDude said, “The problem here is nobody wins no matter which side you stand on. If Walker backs down, the precedent is set that the minority party just needs to flee the state to stall the democratic process and get their way. Honestly the Dems need to come back, do their elected jobs and then make sure everyone remembers this next year during the elections.” arkagene said, “The Democrats are hiding out in another state, having a good time. That's not doing their job. Also it's my understanding the people of Wisconsin put those Republicans in office to do what they are doing. If not then they could easily remove them.”


Willie12345 said, “The governor should send layoff notices only to teachers in the districts represented by the missing senators. That should bring them home in a hurry.” Pointless1 responded, “Get used to teaching your own. Nobody will work as a teacher in the district if layoffs happen.”


jetsetter59 said, “The longer this drags out the more teachers will loose their jobs.” But buckydog said, “The longer this drags out the worse it looks for Walker and the GOP. Please don't give up, he is on the ropes and a few more jabs to the head will do him in.”


Obama a one-termer?


William Bennett, CNN contributor, former U.S. secretary of education and director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy under President George H.W. Bush, says that President Obama could be a one-term president, but readers mainly said they didn’t think so.


Walleye46 said, “We are slowly beginning to see progress in an economy which was devastated by tax cuts and unfunded wars. Our POTUS has turned things around, and the fruits of his labor will be seen in the coming months and I believe in the next SIX YEARS of his presidency.” msemon said, “Obama is doing a good job. He stopped the financial hemorrhage caused by the GOP. Until the GOP kicks out the Tea Party, religious zealots and various nuts and flakes, it will not have a viable candidate.”


Other readers agreed with Bennett.TraceyAnne said, “One-termer....absolutely! wEsHeDbLoOd said, “Why does Obama seem so passive about everything? I remember how passionate he was about EVERYTHING before he became president. Now it's like he barely has a pulse. Very disappointed since I voted for him.”  DeezNuutz said, “Obama has done NOTHING for this country except get rid of some of Bush's policies only to bring them right back again.”


And some readers supported other candidates. tneagle said, “I like Donald Trump for president. I believe we need a leader that will stand up to China and OPEC. We need changes. It's time we ‘fire’ politics as usual. Our economy is horrible and Trump knows something about running a successful business. We don't need retreads running like Newt and Milt. Vote for Trump!” And ICommonSense said, “We need to elect Charlie Sheen as president. Then our entire country will be winning.”


Women's rights on Women's Day


On this International Women’s Day, hundreds of Planned Parenthood advocates rallied in Texas after state lawmakers approved controversial legislation that requires mothers seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound examination. And thousands of miles away, several hundred women in Cairo gathered to demand “fair and equal opportunity for all Egyptian citizens” (although activists were calling for a million woman march).


Of the protests in Texas, readers’ views varied.   BlueLine said, “Ah conservatives ... keeping your big government out of our lives unless it involves women and their reproductive rights. Is it possible to enter a second dark age?” Mattmchugh said, “Conservatives support small government, deregulation, personal responsibility, and less legislative intrusion into the private sector. Except when they don't. Everybody clear on that?” vj900 said, “Any woman who finds herself in the unfortunate position of requiring an abortion KNOWS there is a life form inside her. So why the need for an ultrasound?”   But 5diamond said, “I'm just curious as to what anti-lifers are so afraid of with this bill. It's as if they're saying to pregnant women ‘Considering an abortion? Don't think about it, just do it quick before you change your mind?’” And kminla said, “This law simply asks that women be given all the information that they should reasonably have before making such a decision.”


About the low turnout in Egypt, readers weren’t surprised, but still disappointed.  Descarado said, “The day we see Muslim men marching with their wives, mothers and sisters on International Woman's Day is the day Osama bin Laden will be playing hockey in Hell with Adolph Hitler, Yasser Arafat and Adolph Eichmann.” bluebell13 said, “All the Egyptian men are afraid the women will be better than them when allowed to be free to do as men do. The men are cowards.” And SarahInTexas said, “This saddens my heart. These men who aim to oppress women are degrading their own mothers, sisters, wives, daughters and friends.”


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 // March 8, 2011
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iReport awards on CNN »

CNN is so proud of all the iReport awards nominees that our own Brooke Baldwin did a segment showing a few of them off. It aired on CNN TV on March 7, around 3:30 p.m. ET. Check out the video above or on


You can get more info on the stories in the video by reading about our breaking news and original reporting nominees. CNN Newsroom will be highlighting the rest of the nominees throughout the week. And be sure to check back on Tuesday, March 15, to see the winners of the first-ever iReport awards!

Posted by:
// March 8, 2011
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Overheard on Advertising the Apocalypse »


Comment of the day: "I guess heaven needs to be dusted and vacuumed, what with all of those guests arriving so soon.” --DoctorOD


Road trip to the end of the world


If you were thinking you’ve got plenty of time before the end of the world, you apparently haven’t heard what’s going to happen on May 21, according to Christian broadcasting ministry Family Radio. Our story about a caravan trip advertising the imminent day of doom brought almost 10,000 comments, and readers are still writing. ChitownJason said, “Oh, take that, Mayans! You've been one-upped!”


Many wrote to request a follow-up story after the predicted date of Judgment Day. psmail2 asked, “Is there an app available so we can see what happens to this group on May 21 and May 22?”


Others were deeply concerned for the children involved. 2Buddesatva said, “These folks are mentally unbalanced. The kindest thing that we can do for them is get all of them into a program and I would strongly advise taking the children away. This thing smacks of a suicide cult. The state needs to intervene now before people, specifically children end up getting hurt.”


grafixer123 agreed. “Has anyone considered that these people believe strongly in this, or they would not dump their possessions and join a caravan to tell the world about it? It is likely that they have an ‘exit plan’ of their own. This smacks of a KoolAid ending to me. I hope the authorities are ready at least to save the children that are with them.”


Others were not so worried.  Wzrd1 said, “I'd think it's hilarious, save for the children being dragged around and programmed. Still, a great educational lesson will be given those children on May 22nd.” KritterKat said, “What are the addresses of these people who left behind valuable antique collections with their doors unlocked? Sounds like a great investment idea!”


Oh, and speaking of children, takingsides said, “Hey, that's around the time my baby is due. Ultrasounds haven't told us whether or not he/she is Jesus Christ yet. But we were stuck on coming up with a boy name.” KritterKat responded, “Are you a virgin?”


Modern-day slavery: A problem that can’t be ignored


On a much darker note, the launching of a series on human trafficking is bringing out readers’ suggestions, stories and offers of help.  Mountainmamajo said, “I applaud your effort. This is sorely needed. I would ask that you include child brides in your definition of slavery.”


Diana Lynn Ellinghouse said, “I am grateful to see news coverage of this. Fifty-five years after the experience, I am forced to relive violent prostitution in flashbacks of early childhood. My mind was shattered along with my bones. Seeing video of men my age sobbing with similar memories helped me to speak out. CNN's work will give voice to others.”


Elsie said, “When I was seven I was forced to work. I had to clean floors from 3 am to 6 pm; the days I refused to do it, I had no food. Now I live in America, I have two little girls, and I still don’t understand how in this century there are too many children enduring all kind of pain and sorrow. I cry every time I read this kind of news. Those years left a deep mark in my heart.”


Patrick Dunn said, “In Ottawa, a Canadian student (adult at the time) told me she and a friend were duped into getting jobs in Europe while they were teenagers. They were then forced into prostitution, kept under 24-hour watch, and moved from place to place throughout Germany for four years before they escaped. They had no idea where they were (Frankfurt, as it turned out) but found the police and returned to Canada. CNN, with its worldwide resources, can be this catalyst for long-overdue change And please don't let this be a ratings, flash-in-the-pan operation. Please tell me how I can help. There are, I am sure, many out here who feel as I do and are ready to do our part. Thank you, CNN, for this. I'm ready!!!”



Capt. Kirk wakes up shuttle crew


The crew of the space shuttle Discovery might have thought they were on a very different starship this morning. The voice of fictional Capt. James T. Kirk of the Starship Enterprise awoke them with the well-known words, “Space, the final frontier.” Tcmlee said, "Discovery to Earth, seven to beam down." cerulamania said, “So much for the non-interference directive.”


Many were shocked to realize how much time had passed since the glory days of the “Star Trek” TV series.  ObvUsername said, “Holy cow! Shatner is almost 80?” sthbdr said, “Could have fooled me. He has the energy of one half his age and looks about 20 years younger than his age. Long Live Captain Kirk!” beachreport! said, “Live long and prosper, my friend.”


Others lauded “Star Trek” for inspiring some advances in technology.  fleetingfree said, “As we walk around with communicators in our pocket it is good to remember that we can make our dreams real. We may not be able to bend time yet but we have an idea.” Anolderguy said, “Excellent! Science fiction feeds the hunger for science research and real research feeds good science fiction! Good job, Mr. Shatner!”


Cricket0228 said, “Many people became interested in the space program because of "Star Trek." We have flip-phones, Bluetooth, computers on desktops, and even Kindle because the ideas for these now-common devices came from the various Trek series. The US Navy restructured the bridges on ships to the round design of the Enterprise because it was more efficient. Maybe you don't like Shatner or Trek, but the various incarnations of the show have certainly impacted our lives.“


rain4st said, “Shatner’s inclusion this morning was a sweet reminder of an earlier time in our nation when programs like "Star Trek" inspired millions to believe there was something more to the universe than empty blackness and burning balls of hot gas.“ newsound said, “I'll never forget the first shuttle launch. It was the Columbia, 1981. I was glued to the TV and my heart was racing as the countdown progressed. That was a very proud day for America. My, how things have changed.”


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

Posted by: leahpine // March 7, 2011
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CNN iReport Awards: Compelling Imagery »

An image can tell stories in a way that words often can’t – adding drama, emotion and sometimes whimsy. The nominees in the Compelling Imagery category of the CNN iReport Awards are beautiful, powerful and add depth to the news.


Nominee 1: Day 6 in a Haitian hospital




Bobby Moon spent eight days in Haiti a few months after the country’s devastating earthquake. He shared the tragic stories of orphans, amputees and the other patients at a hospital in northern Haiti.


Nominee 2: Great aurora display




If someone described the scene in the sky over Jesper Grønne’s home in Denmark, you might not believe it was real. Grønne’s photo and time-lapse video of an aurora display captured spectacular swaths of green, purple, pink and orange as they swept across the sky.


Nominee 3: Abandon valley




Mugur Vărzariu captured photos of an underground community in southern Romania that gives shelter to shamed single mothers, single pregnant women and abandoned children.  Vărzariu’s photos capture these children’s emotions.


Nominee 4: London time-lapse




Matt Gosden and Rob Rackstraw’s time-lapse video captured 12 hours in the life of London. The cars, buses and people look like toys marching through a model of the city.


Nominee 5:  Eyjafjallajökull volcano footage




Nick Mutton traveled to within 70 feet of an active volcano during a visit to Iceland and shot HD video of the eruption. Mutton rode up to the volcano in a special 4x4 vehicle with modified tires that could withstand the volcano’s heat.


Congratulations to all of the nominees. You can learn more about the breaking news, personal stories , interview and commentary  categories in our previous entries. Check out all of the nominees for the CNN iReport Awards  and be sure to vote for the Community Choice Award. You can vote once a day until Monday, March 7. We will announce all of the winners on Tuesday, March 15 at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas.

Posted by:
// March 6, 2011
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Overheard on Lost rocket, lost pride »


Comment of the day: "Amazing how little people care about space travel these days. Our species' current goal is clear: survive. How nice would space colonization be for that? Too bad we're more concerned about the gas prices for our oversized SUVs than we are about the survival of our children." --evixter


Rocket fails to reach orbit; likely crashes into ocean


Once upon a time, it seemed that NASA was the all-American icon, one everyone could take pride in. The failure of a satellite launch Friday morning instead brought forth arguments more recently seen in the Wisconsin protests. Is the money well spent? Is it our money? Who is at fault?


Many wrote to point out that the rocket was actually made by a private company and not NASA’s failure.  HarryDunne said, “For the record, this wasn't a NASA rocket, it was an Orbital Sciences rocket. Orbital Sciences is a commercial space company who is competing with SpaceX to replace the Space Shuttle. The success rates of Orbital's Taurus rocket and NASA's Space Shuttle are 75 percent and 99 percent, respectively."


And ShovelingSnw said, “Name a space agency with a better record than NASA.”


For some, that wasn’t good enough. JIC81 replied, “Well, the rocket was built by Orbital Sciences, yeah, but NASA still had to buy the thing. Cartoguy said, “That's what you get when the private sector builds crap; a waste of taxpayer money." dhondi said, “I think they should just skip the symbolism and start launching huge amounts of cash up into the sky. The effect would be much the same."


But when marshallzulu said, “Another success story for NASA; the wasteful do-nothing agency. When are we going to wise up and force the closing of this financial bottomless pit?”

Valea responded, “Do nothing? They built a telescope that can see to the edge of the universe, and put a man on the moon. If that's your definition of 'do nothing,' I would like to see what you've managed to accomplish with such a lofty bar for success.”


And Guest said, “The day that our kids will look at a Nobel Prize in the sciences in the same light as a Super Bowl championship, that will be the day we get back on track. Unfortunately, I have a hard time ever seeing that spark we had in the 1960s, that yearning for exploration, for the wonders of science, ever returning to the American public. And I don't know how much longer we'll survive as a world leading nation.”


Finally, when you send a rocket up into space, and it fails, the comparisons are inevitable.  TexasTakesUs said, “This sounds like my love life: lots of planning but the execution is always shaky. Ozniff added, “They got to keep their rocket up for six minutes. Sounds like the average love life to me.”


CDC: 1 in 3 adults sleep less than 7 hours



A CDC survey shows that more than one-third of U.S. adults are suffering from a lack of sleep – less than seven hours a night. Many wrote that the story missed the real problem: the demands of the American work world.


Tom said, “How about addressing the root of the problem: work hours.


Shannon said, “Exactly! How are we supposed to work 9-11 hours a day, get all household/family things done and still get 7-9 hours of sleep. I would LOVE to get that much sleep -- I shoot for 7 but it rarely happens.”


It’s not so easy being a student, either, Tristan added. “I am 14 and a freshman in high school. Everyone is big on after-school activities. Unfortunately, my sports push me back until 5:30 p.m. I then have homework from 5:30-12:00 midnight. Then, I wake up at 5:45 a.m. to catch the bus. It is ridiculous how much homework teachers give us. SOMEONE NEEDS TO SAVE US!!!!"


Then there were the sad and scary stories. Amazed said, “I was in a major chain store and the cashier was almost asleep. I smiled and asked her why she does not have a rest if she is so tired?  She gave a forced smile and replied, 'I work two jobs seven days a week. I have bills to pay, you know.' 'This is a slave at work,' I thought. 'The fool I am! I thought slavery was done with!' ”


Cleveland Jim said, “Seven hours of sleep is a pipe dream, I often work 16 hour days, sometimes several weeks or months in a row. I just wake up five hours later and climb up the tree with a chainsaw hanging from my harness and hope I don't die."


Need to save time? Many suggested turning off the technology. Sleeper said, “If you are so limited on time what are you doing reading not vital "news" and commenting? My guess is you will probably come back two or three times to see what people have said about your comments. Turn off the TV, quit Facebook, and exercise more. Simple. I did all this and I sleep eight hours every night!“


DR. agreed, “Turn it off! Go for a walk, smell the air, see the flowers, listen to the birds.”


Fallen Marine’s father says anti-gay pickets will draw gunfire


Top comment: "I'm in the military and currently in the desert. If I should die, I say let ‘em protest my funeral. And then please tell them for me that I am happy I will never see them again, because I'm quite certain they are all going to hell." -- STNorm


In response to the Supreme Court’s ruling that Westboro Baptist Church had the right to protest at military funerals, Albert Snyder, father of the slain Marine, warned there would be violence. This is a story that has elicited empathy, pain, sorrow, and anger. Thousands commented, some agreeing that violence is inevitable; others speaking out against it.


Ycpycp said, “I have so much respect for the family members that manage to sit at these protests during the funeral of a dead loved one and not lash out at the WBC. The father's point that this is eventually going to lead to bloodshed is absolutely correct, it is only a matter of time. BuddyGreen said, “Religious extremists are nuts no matter if they are holed up in a cave with the Taliban or sitting in the pew at Westboro. They are the same and deserve the same treatment."


Albus replied, “Unfortunately, this is a painful price we pay for being a constitutional republic. This is also another classic example of evil perpetuated through religious ignorance. There is a long history of that in mankind's existence.”


Allanhowls said, “Read the ruling: at most, the family would only be able to see the very tops of the signs. Reasonable laws and safeguards are already in place. Making a special rule just for WBC would far overstep that and be in clear violation of the Constitution. I hate it too, but it's an inevitable fact, no matter how angry they make us. We need to uphold the founding principles of our nation with a clear head, not a clenched fist.”


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

Posted by: leahpine // March 4, 2011
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CNN iReport Awards: Original Reporting »

There are millions of amazing stories going on in the world at any given time and only a tiny fraction of them ever get told. That’s why it’s so exciting when iReporters uncover unique stories or find new angles on the news.


The nominees in the Original Reporting category cover a wide range of topics – some are sweet and quirky, others tragic, but they are all brimming with passion and the iReporters’ enthusiasm for their stories.


Nominee 1: It’s what you can’t see



When the Deepwater Horizon oil platform exploded and pumped huge amounts of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, Louisiana native Eileen Romero wanted to know what was going on. So, she found a boat captain who would take her out to the Louisiana wetlands. Eileen came back with vivid pictures and a powerful essay describing the oil fumes that burned her throat and eyes, as well as her anger and frustration that more wasn’t being done to protect the fragile environment.


Nominee 2: Clearing cluster bombs on the Ho Chi Mihn Trail



Samantha Bolton traveled to Laos to report on efforts to clear unexploded cluster bombs left over from the Vietnam War. Bolton was part of an anti-land mine campaign and reported that there are still more than 80 million unexploded cluster bombs decades after the end of the war.


Nominee 3: Fist full of deadly oil



Johnny Colt took a boat out into the Gulf of Mexico to report on the impact of the Gulf oil disaster.  Colt, armed with a camera and protected by yellow plastic gloves and a respirator mask, reached into the water and pulled out handfuls of thick, brownish sludge to give a close-up view of the of the spill’s impact.

Nominee 4: Bison as a pet


Percy von Lipinski went to Edmonton, Alberta, to meet the Sautner family and their pet buffalo Bailey Jr. Bailey’s a lot like any pet – he drinks from the kitchen sink, goes for rides in the car and lounges around the house. The only difference is that Bailey Jr. is a 1,600 pound bison. Percy approached the unusual story with wonder and enthusiasm and didn’t mock the Sautner family or judge their decision.


Nominee 5: Therapy cat performs miracles


Deanne Goodman shared the story of Moorea, a therapy cat that wears a hat and rides in a stroller. Deanne went along with Moorea to as she helped patients with traumatic brain injuries. You could see patients' faces light up as Moorea purred in their lap or sat nearby.


Congratulations to all of the nominees. You can learn more about the breaking news, personal stories , interview and commentary  categories in our previous entries. Check out all of the nominees for the CNN iReport Awards  and be sure to vote for the Community Choice Award. You can vote once a day until Monday, March 7. We will announce all of the winners on Tuesday, March 15 at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas.

Posted by:
// March 4, 2011
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Overheard on Secret Facebook lives »


Comment of the day: "I am married now and tell my wife about every email, phone, text or tweet I get from an ex. What she knows can't hurt her" --bnakka


E-motional affairs: How Facebook leads to infidelity


It’s no secret that Facebook secrets can destroy a relationship. Ian Kerner’s recent recipe for avoiding those breakups got many readers telling on themselves. Matt said it happened to him and his current partner: We had added our exes as friends, and it turned into a disaster for the relationship. At this point we have disconnected from Facebook and have been away from it for several months now. This has eliminated almost all of our fights."


LJT said, Sadly, I know of two marriages that have gone toe up because of Facebook. Both of them were happy marriages too.”


KoolKat admitted, “I was an addict. I had a Facebook account, and it consumed so much of my time. The drama, the annoying group requests, the occasional creepers and more finally made me quit my account. It's been a difficult ride, as my mind is accustomed to reading the gossip every morning along with checking out status updates. But, I can also tell you how genuine I feel when I meet someone in real life instead of in the virtual world after a long time. “


If you want to keep the relationship and the Facebook account, share it with your partner, some suggested.


Michael Wong said, “This ain't rocket science, people. If you want your relationship to be strong, you must not have secrets. Let your spouse know your Facebook account password. If you feel the need to keep secrets from your spouse, then you already have problems. Actually keeping those secrets will only create more problems. Joy said, “If you’re married, just have a combined Facebook account. And don't accept past relationship friend requests, because that will take you down memory lane, when it was left there in the first place.”


Unfortunately, this advice can apparently get you even more deeply mired in the world of Facebook.


Social Psychologist said, “Finally someone gets the problem with Facebook! Many people like myself have accounts only to keep tabs on their significant others to make sure their healthy marriage does not get slowly eroded by the mythical or pseudo-relationships originating in Facebook."


Nunajer Bidnis agreed, “Of course; you've no interest in Facecrook, but then your wife or girlfriend joins. Now you absolutely have to join and immediately downgrade her to a 'friend'. After that it's a game wherein you do nothing fun to avoid trouble while checking her page to see exactly how much fun she's having and what kind of trouble is therefore coming your way. Great, and all you wanted was a real-life relationship.


Work stoppage looms as NFL talks approach midnight deadline


For the first time since 1987, conflicts between owners and players may cause a time-out for professional football.  Some were annoyed by the complaints.


kscanuck said, “Now that's a union they could get rid of. Ridiculous pay for what they do.” sopark4000 said, “Oh these poor millionaires.” open400 said, “Let these players work a real job and real wages for a few days and they will realize how fortunate they are. Let these owners run a corner grocery store for a few days and see how small business makes money. To say these people are spoiled is an understatement.”


Others said they really would be OK without football. Pointless1 said, “Seriously. I'm just not willing to pay for those seriously over-priced tickets anymore.. Take the year off.” thedude2011 said, “I hope they do take a year or ten off. Maybe people will realize just how ridiculous this sport is and how nice it is to have the weekends free to spend with family. I stopped watching years ago and I don’t miss it at all. I would have missed important events like my daughter’s camping trips and family vacations. Thankfully I am no longer a slave to the 1pm kickoff.”


But bamagrad03 responded, “A lot of people use sporting events to spend time with their family. I go to a number of football games with my father, and it's a wonderful day spent together.” And Cato504 added, “Apparently you aren't from a city where football is a major family/social/community event. Try living in somewhere like New Orleans or Green Bay for a while.”


As for the money? neptuneguy pointed out that, according to the story, “the owners want more money, not the players.” Others thought that whatever the players made, they deserved. Cato504 said, “Supply and demand, the reason I can go see a basketball game for $10 is that even with an eighth of the number of seats as the football stadium, they rarely sell out. The NFL packs the house at the prices they sell.” mkelly9772 said that pro football players “put their health and future on the line while the owners rake in billions while sitting in a chair. They deserve every penny they can get, because without them there is no product.”


Postal Service says it needs law changes in order to pay bills


Top comment: "So many people don't have a clue what we've truly lost in this country. You would think the concept of a living wage for a fair day's work died back in 1776, when in reality even our youngest workers had parents that were able to enjoy the fruits of their labor. How did an entire nation get amnesia? " --AngryDeuce


Although the U.S. Postal Service has cut 230,000 jobs in recent years, it will need help from Congress to meet its financial obligations.  Some commented on how best to cut service. CNNsilenced  said, “The closest letter competition they have charges about 25 times the cost or more. I dare say our post office is a bargain and they should just go to a higher stamp price. Why kill over a quarter of a million jobs? iminFla said, “The USPS needs to go to 5-day delivery and stop door-to-door walking delivery. Neighborhoods that have mailboxes on their porch or mail slots in their doors need to have a community mailbox installed. The labor saved would be substantial.”


jaylee0289 pointed out “it is against the law for the USPS to make a profit. The USPS is mandated by law to be revenue neutral. Try running any business where it is against the law for you make a profit. “


APLVR said, “It’s time for many of these overpaid postal workers to retire anyway. The cost of postage has continually risen over the past ten years. Enough is enough! “


But AngryDeuce responded, “Are they really overcompensated? Or has the private sector beaten real wages and benefits down to the point that it simply appears so?  It's funny, and sad, how corporate America, the ‘free’ market, and globalization have driven wages to the point where the average American worker looks at a government employee making the same wage that a private sector employee used to make and, instead of thinking ‘Hey, why don't I get paid what I'm really worth?’ thinks ‘God, it’s not fair; why can’t they struggle like we do?’ That's right, America, keep fighting to make things worse for everyone. I weep for our future.“


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: leahpine // March 3, 2011
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CNN iReport roundtable: Thursdays at 3 p.m. ET »

Hi everybody. We've got a roundtable chat this afternoon and a whole lot of things to talk about.


We've already told you about the elimination of the 'Superstar' system and the new Twitter feature, but we'll be happy to answer any questions you have. We also want to let you know about the huge, new Census project that just launched.


The roundtable will start at 3 p.m. ET. We look forward to talking with you.

Posted by:
// March 3, 2011
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Sneaking a peek at your #techlife »

More and more, gadgets make the world go round. Philippe Gonzalez of Madrid, Spain, describes his techie life:


"From my morning wake up with the alarm of my iPhone, my techie nespresso, the electronic air control in the car, then using the GPS in the car going to a Meeting in Madrid, the use of some apps of my iPhone while I wait at red lights and then arriving to a business center then my computer in my office desk. Then back home, with use of all devices I have, TV set, DVD player, etc., and finally Instagram and the last view of my iPhone before I sleep."


Gonzalez made a photo collage built using the iPhone app Diptic and filtered the images using the mobile photo-sharing site Instagram.


He was one of dozens upon dozens of people who participated in a special assignment we put together in partnership with Mashable. We asked people to shoot a few photos about how they use technology in their everyday lives and combine them into a digital photo collage that tells their story. Then, we'd pick the best ones submitted to CNN iReport and feature them on Mashable.


Check out the results on Mashable in this gallery of the posts you sent and in these photos posted on



PHOTOS clockwise: Phil Gonzalez, Richard Mackney, Arianna Powers, Muhammad Zaki


We at CNN iReport use Instagram quite a bit, and have become intrigued with this very passionate community of photo sharers. We've also seen the impressive photo collages people were putting together using apps like Collage and Diptic, so we thought it would be neat to ask people to share photos of this sort as iReports. As for the subject matter, technology in everyday life seemed like a natural and slightly ironic fit.


So we were delighted to see that people had delved headfirst into the project and shown us all the tangled wires and machinery that rule their lives. We received about 80 submissions from passionate readers around the world. The response was simply awesome. Many came from Instagram users, who almost universally told us there is something special about the people you find there. Those users put a #techlife hashtag on their Instagram posts to differentiate them, in addition to submitting to CNN iReport.


Some told us about how technology enables them to enjoy their unique interests. Brytne LeVasseur-Mason of Willimantic, Connecticut, showed us her recipes app as well as the ingredients she was going to use for cooking. "Technology made dinner happen," she said.


Whit Snow of Park Grove, California, shared images of her daily life as a pharmacist. She said technology is a big part of her job in some ways, but not others. "From automated prescription counters and dispensers, to gigabytes of drug information in our pockets, we rely on technology to bring us closer to our patients. However, even though we're surrounded by the latest gadgets, we still use millennia-old technology like the mortar and pestle every day."


Some used the built-in filters that Instagram provides, and some didn't. Many of these filters mimic old-style toy cameras of days past, casting a faux-vintage look to some images and providing for instant editing on the fly. Dana Benson of Port Orange, Florida, posted a collage using Instagram's Hefe filter, which gives images a vintage appearance. But Kevin Palivec of Hawley, Texas, submitted an unfiltered collage of many, many images and posted a filtered version on Instagram. Wires, devices, a router, dust remover and of course donuts were essential parts of his collage.


In one unique example, Joe Mirabella of Seattle, Washington, used Diptic to tell a sequential story about the space shuttle Discovery launch. He took three iPhone 4 pictures of the NASA footage on his computer screen as the shuttle moved up through the atmosphere, and then combined them into a photo collage that helped tell the story of how he saw the launch.


When we were done gathering content, we had seen everything from computer setups to cars to iPhones and everything in between. Now that you've seen these submissions, what's your tech life like? Do you make collages or post on any photo-sharing sites? Share your comments below, and connect with us on Instagram at the @cnnireport account.

Posted by:
// March 3, 2011
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Goodbye 'Superstar,' hello Twitter »

Our crack development team was hard at work this morning rolling out a bunch of exciting new features for CNN iReport. A lot of the upgrades won't be noticeable, but they will get us ready for a big project, we're working on (---Spoiler alert: It's going to be awesome!---).


There are two big changes we want to tell you about this morning:


We retired the 'Superstar' system, which means you won't be seeing the little red stars next to iReporters' names any more. The Superstar was our first stab at a recognition system and it recognized a whole bunch of things like page views, number of iReports posted, number of vetted iReports and number of comments.


It worked pretty well at first, but we quickly outgrew it. The biggest problem was that the stars were based on recent activity, so a fairly large group of iReporters would lose their stars and wonder what they did wrong. It also measured so many different things that nobody could tell how an iReporter earned their star, which raised a lot of questions about fairness.


A reward system that makes people feel bad isn't much of a reward, so we introduced badges last year to replace it. Badges appear on your profile page and reward the work that you actually do -- there are badges for posting iReports, for making comments and for participating in special iReport projects.  Everyone who's ever been earned Superstar status now has the Original Superstar badge on their profile page to recognize their contributions to the community.


The second change will be big for Twitter users. You can now link your Twitter and iReport accounts, so that when you post an iReport it will automatically be tweeted out to your Twitter followers. Just go to your profile page and look for the big blue Twitter button.


Twitter integration is just the beginning -- we're working with other sites and would love to connect iReport with all of your social networks.


We'll be having a roundtable discussion today at 3 p.m. ET, so feel free to join us then if you have any questions.

Posted by:
// March 3, 2011
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Morning site maintenance »

There will be a brief site outage this morning at about 8:40 a.m. ET so that our developers can perform some upgrades to CNN iReport. It's expected to take about 15 minutes.


You won't notice most of the changes right away, but there are a couple of features that we think you're going to be excited about.


We'll have more details once the work is complete. Thanks for your patience.

Posted by:
// March 3, 2011
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CNN iReport + Team Coco = awesome »


That funny smell wafting from your bedchamber isn't just disgusting, it's eagerly being sought after as part of one of our latest iReport assignments in collaboration with Team Coco, the crew behind TBS' "Conan."


The one and only Andy Richter is leading the charge of Team Coco Solvebusters, an investigative one-man team that digs deep to find answers about those weighty Issues That Matter - like messy rooms, for example. (Read more at


This new partnership is a match made in some kind of wacky version of heaven!  You take the inventive, quirky spirit of CNN iReport and mix it up with the zany goofiness of Team Coco... Add in the delicious community goodness, stir it up, and it becomes a weird-but-tasty cake that we're baking together - and who doesn't love cake?


Team Coco wants to showcase the videos of the messy rooms on their website, so if you're already a fan, this is right up your alley! Just grab a camera and film the messiest room you've seen.


You can be a tour guide and show the world the nuances of your mess, you can be a character and ham it up in a non-creepy way; you can shoot video of your own room, or the grimy lair of a friend or family member -- the power is in your hands! (If shooting someone else's room, get their permission first if you can. They may not want to, you know, air their dirty laundry). However you choose to shoot that dirty room, the messy possibilities are endless.


The whole thing is a bit of an experiment, and we're excited about it. One thing that sets this project apart from others is that Team Coco Solvebusters isn't based on the news of the day, or a project that CNN is doing. Instead, it's a collaboration with "Conan." Know that community interaction and good storytelling are at the heart of this project, as is the case with everything we do.


Joining up with Team Coco is sure to bring some fresh (and not-so-fresh, in this case) faces to our community. If you're new around these parts, welcome to CNN iReport; we think you'll like it here! If you're a regular iReport contributor, we hope you'll want to participate in these assignments as they come out.


We hope everyone has fun and gets a few laughs -- and we're confident that some awesome stories will come of it all. Post a comment below if you have any ideas for future issues Andy Richter should investigate; Team Coco Solvebusters just might be on the case!

Posted by:
// March 2, 2011
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Overheard on Doctors weighing in more »

Comment of the day: “Geez, I wish I had these doctors as my physicians. My doctors never shut up about my weight, as if didn't have a mirror in my house.” --gjc1n1


Memo to patient: You’ve got a weight problem.


Many people who are overweight and obese either don't realize it or are in denial -- and too few doctors are setting them straight, according to a new study in the Archives of Internal Medicine. So how responsible are physicians in helping their patients maintain healthy weights? readers mainly thought it was up to the patient, but many said doctors should speak up, too.


makemlaff said, “I hate to say it, but I had to have my doctor tell me I was overweight. I was one of those people in denial. He told me I had to lose weight, pointed me towards the ‘Couch to 5k’ running program. I lost 75 lbs and I've never looked back. Very grateful to him for doing his job.” LDinAR said, “For many years I would go the doctor knowing I needed to lose some weight and not once was anything said. During one very long wait I looked at my chart and found the doctors notes and she commented on my weight but never once addressed it with me. BUT I am proud to say have shed 50 lbs. Only 20 more to go and I will be within a healthy weight.”


Some readers shared their experiences about being told they are overweight by their doctors: Edge327 said, “Most of my relatives, including me, are overweight and whenever a doctor can't diagnose a pain or illness, they blame it on the weight.” BigGirlPants said, “I hate doctors that berate you about being fat. I know and admit to the doctor that I am obese. I want advice on diet and exercise. Not to be told how poor my diet must be and how lazy I must be.” And Shackdaddy83 said, “My doctor told me I was ‘really fat’ in elementary school. Made me feel so bad that now I am in perfect shape.”


And doctors had their say, too: grist said, “I check weight at every patient visit and calculate BMI. I stress the importance of healthy life-style, encouraging patients to exercise every day and I give specific recommendations to every patient. It works!”


U.S. government property for sale


Is the U.S. government getting creative when it comes to reducing the country’s debt? President Barack Obama is proposing the creation of a panel that will recommend how the federal government can sell off properties it no longer needs, which could lead to $15 billion over a three-year period.


This seemed to be one idea readers—no matter their political affiliation—could all get behind.


Guest said, “As long as it's sold for the going rate and not at pennies on the dollar to special interests, I think it's a great idea. FSUKXAZ said, “Awesome! As an Independent I'm all for it. Republicans should be happy too. It would be a great way to raise revenue without raising taxes.” munkee83 said, “This is actually a good idea.” And dizastr22 said, “Smart move, why was this not done years ago?”


Some commenters also got creative: Bailoutsos said, “Sell Texas back to Mexico. Make sure baby Bush goes as part of the deal.” LouAz said, “Does this include about 90 percent of Nevada or does the government still need that land to store all the alien bodies and alien spaceships? They could certainly get lots of money for a low mileage flying saucer.” GotThumbs2 said, “How about we sell Texas back to Mexico...they seem to have moved in already.” And SaintPaul37 said, “Sell it all to China, they own a significant amount of our debt and property already, I'm sure they will take it off of our hands.”


Some readers were cautiously optimistic. AmesIA said, “This could be a great idea, but the devil is in the details. If it turns into another form of corporate welfare where a public asset becomes a private gold mine it will be business as usual. In my home town of Ames, Iowa there is a large facility last used for animal disease research 50+ years ago. Now it is a fenced array of decaying buildings surrounded by commercial development.”


Not your grandma’s farmer’s market


With a recommendation from a health care provider, people in Seattle can shop at a new medical marijuana farmers market. It’s operating in a legal gray zone in the state of Washington, but organizers are hoping a bill in the state legislature will give medical pot users better legal footing.


Although legalizing marijuana isn’t a new debate, readers had plenty to say about the subject:


JERSEYBORN said, “I watched my sister pass away from cancer recently. She was given methadone, morphine and a slew of narcotics to handle pain anxiety etc. The side effects of these drugs were immense. Maybe cannabis might not have been the answer, but it needs to be available as an alternative without the current stigma it has associated with it.” scdem08 said, “I've got a relative, sick with cancer, not eating, losing weight, in a lot of pain. She's got a medicine cabinet full of all sorts of addictive pain-relieving narcotics, all with a big price tag and not-so-nice side effects. Her doctor ultimately prescribed medicinal marijuana. It increased her appetite, alleviated pain, and helped her sleep....all with no side effects.”


citizenUSA said, “It's not fair for one state to be more stoned than mine!” Profilerg said, “Put a drunk and a stoned person in a bar and see who fights first.... (unless it's for the popcorn machine).”  MarkyDesade said, “If it is legal to buy whiskey it should be legal to buy marijuana. While neither is ideal for the body and mind, the legal one is far more destructive to lives and society. “


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 // March 2, 2011

Posted in: comments
CNN iReport Awards: Commentary »

Everyone has an opinion – expressing it gracefully is the hard part. The nominees in the commentary category of the CNN iReport Awards used their knowledge, creativity and passion to create persuasive and entertaining arguments.


Most importantly, they were able to make their cases without resorting to the insults and ridicule that often seep into a debate. We appreciate their contributions to the lively and respectful conversation on CNN iReport.


Nominee 1:  Angry tainted egg


Animator Carter MacDowell entertains the CNN iReport community with the exploits of the porcine residents of the fictional town of Hamwood, North Carolina (they’re pigs, get it?). Carter’s porky caricatures of President Obama, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and even tennis star Serena Williams offer hilarious takes on current events. The cleverly named Sal Minella took aim at last summer’s tainted egg scare.


Nominee 2: Homeland security



Trevor Dougherty looks like a typical teenager in his T-shirt and jeans and describes himself as a white, American, Christian. Trevor’s a frequent traveler and said he had never been pulled aside for special screening until the day he flew from Los Angeles, California to New Mexico wearing a traditional Muslim outfit. He shared in an creative video that he thought he was pulled aside for a full pat down because of religious profiling and questioned whether that improved airport security.


Nominee 3: Health care circus show



Desire Glover has a strong visual style and an even stronger point of view. Desire uses fast-paced cuts and a hip-hop soundtrack to grab viewers attention and doesn’t let go. In her video, she blamed Democrats and Republicans for not moving faster on health care and accused both parties of loving money more than they love their country. She also criticized American voters for not standing up to politicians who weren’t representing their interests.


Nominee 4: I want to live in a world … filled with love



We asked iReporters to create short videos that finished the sentence “I want to live in a world …” and Doug Bocaz-Larson took the idea and ran with it. Doug shared videos of keepers working and playing with tigers, zebras, hippos and even cobras at the Out of Africa Wildlife Park in Arizona. He said he believes other zoos can learn from the park and should allow visitors to interact with the animals.


Nominee 5: Dear Gulf, I’ll miss you



James Amerson lives on the Florida Gulf Coast and photographs and paints the wildlife and the beautiful scenes he could see from his home. When the BP oil disaster threatened the area he took what he feared would be his last photos of Pensacola’s pristine sugar sand beach[remove extra space]. He also wrote a touching love letter to the Gulf and said goodbye to an important part of his life.


We'll be profiling all of the nominees this week in the blog and you can learn more about the breaking news, personal stories  and interview categories in our previous entries. Check out all of the nominees for the CNN iReport Awards  and be sure to vote for the Community Choice Award. You can vote once a day until Monday, March 7. We will announce all of the winners on Tuesday, March 15 at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas.

Posted by:
// March 2, 2011
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Overheard on Was 'The Social Network' robbed?  »

Comment of the day: “Puh-leese. “Social Network” is one of the most over-hyped movies ever!" -- Seraphim Models


Spacey says “TSN” should have won


After this year’s Oscars wrapped, Kevin Spacey, executive producer of “The Social Network,” said the film would now enter the "pantheon" of movies never to win the top prize. Time, a CNN partner, included the movie in its list of top-10 all-time Oscar snubs. But what did readers think?


Lord Langley said, “’The Social Network’ works only as a social and cultural record not as an entertaining movie that stands alone. ‘The King's Speech’ is slightly more entertaining, better acting but a weak best film. My choice is ‘Toy Story 3’ which will stand the test of time. Shoulda won!” Taylor T said, “Obviously people have different opinions of every movie. I was bored in the ‘Social Network.’ Overall it was good, but take away the soundtrack and I feel like you lose the drama.”


Readers who thought the movie was snubbed included Will H., who said, “’The King's Speech’ is a great movie. Wonderful performances, builds nicely, classical structure. But the best film of the year was probably ‘The Social Network’ -- gripping, timely, directed with style, with an amazing script that renders a complicated series of events in a compelling, very human way. Fincher is a cold fish but I was sorry to see him lose Sunday night.” And Michael Locher said, “’The Social Network,’ in my opinion, was indeed the superior film. ‘The King's Speech’ was elegant and well-crafted, but it was also a conservative film with none of ‘Social's’ daring, complexity, and innovation. It's easily the trickiest, most sly and most contemporary study of modern life and work the Oscars have considered in years.”


Other readers pointed out other snubs:  DRFII said, “How can you omit the ‘Out of Africa’ win over ‘The Color Purple’ in 1985? This is certainly more egregious than ‘The Social Network's’ loss.” Mw Joiner said, “The only Academy Award ceremony where I recall a movie being snubbed is when ‘Forrest Gump’ beat out ‘Pulp Fiction.’ “ Rob Darden said, “One of the biggest Oscar snubs of all time was the total ignoring of Malcolm X for any awards. This was one of Denzel's finest performances, which was not even recognized in any category.” And Kim S. Marshall said, “OMG. I STILL remember the pure SHOCK that ‘Shakespeare in Love’ could win over a profoundly moving, educational, realistic and historical movie like SAVING PRIVATE RYAN.”


Governor overreaching?


As protests continue in Wisconsin, some political experts wonder if Gov. Scott Walker, in a battle with public employee unions over the right to collective bargaining, has overreached in his attempts to shore up the state's budget shortfall. readers’ opinions on the matter varied greatly, but many attempted to clarify the growing controversy.


Among readers who stood behind the protests, Flocktrie said, “Speaking of things states can't afford, Gov. Scott has proposed over $140 Million in tax cuts. If there's really a budget problem, why is he reducing incoming revenues? Oh, that's right. We must give welfare to the rich via tax cuts.” Anotheralt said, “This concept of workers and employers contributing to retirement is ridiculous, in this instance. Contractually, it's literally ONLY the employees who are contributing to their retirement. Walker's rhetoric is pathetic.” 2tired2care said, “They agreed to cuts in pay and benefits that would help cover the budget shortfall but that's still not enough for Walker.”


And other commenters supported the governor. Snakebite201 said, “If you look at states with the most debt imbalance you will find the states that are not right to work. You may say that people in right-to-work states make less money. Well they do, but the cost of living is way lower. alboze said, “I was shocked to hear how much money these unions grab from the workers and they have no choice, it is deducted at gross with or without their agreement! No wonder the unions are fighting back so hard, its money for doing nothing. They might have to go out and get a job themselves.”



A $3,000 water bill? Really?


An Atlanta woman recently received a $3,000 water bill, and Atlanta water officials received more than 22,000 calls in January about problems with their water bills. Water bill spikes were also reported in Ohio, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Florida, and many readers shared their concerns.


pauld79 said, “I have lived in the city of Atlanta for seven years. Last month we received a bill for $1700 for an unoccupied condo that my wife and I used to own. We have been disputing this charge for a few weeks, but the 3rd party biller will not budge.” cbmary said, “Maybe these folks should check into what has been happening in Brockton, Massachusetts for months.” lkcolb said, “Why doesn't CNN look into the privatization of water in America? The bigger issue is who owns the water in Atlanta? And who owns water in other major cities in the U.S? It may surprise CNN.”


But Sammie1eye88 said, “The water department in the community where I live installed an automatic meter reading system 5+ years ago; we never had any problems like this. And doonerist said, “I have a wealthy relative who likens her water bills to paying for Perrier. She complains bitterly about the injustice, but has almost an acre of manicured lawn and another couple acres of landscaped garden—and a 60k gallon pool.”


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 // March 1, 2011
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Defining America »

Quite the lofty headline, right? But that's just what CNN is aiming to do - and we need your help!


CNN producers from all across the network have come together to create the Defining America project. We were inspired by the 2010 census to gather all the data we can, from all the sources we can, and see what stories it tells about the U.S. And you, iReporters, are a critical piece of that.


We love the way you share your stories and help us put a personal spin on the news. So, to put some faces on all the overwhelming numbers in the Defining America project, we've created what we're calling the iReport cultural census. It's a set of five fun, simple assignments (plus a quick demographic survey) that help us get at the people and personalities behind the numbers. When you submit to an assignment, your iReport will become part of CNN's searchable database and map. The Defining America project, including the cultural census, will be a major feature on and on CNN television. (You'll see a lot more news on this project soon, so check back in the coming months.)


It's a bit confusing, we'll admit, so here's the practical application of it all: Want to see handwriting styles of Democrats vs. Republicans? See what foods people across the country eat most frequently? Can you guess where someone's from or how they get around based on their accent? The iReport cultural census will let you do all that and more. Pretty neat, right?


Here are the assignments - you may have seen them living quietly on the site already:


Share a photo

Take a self-portrait. Get creative!


Read aloud

Tape yourself reading a standard passage.


Eat dinner

Show us a photo of you or your family's typical weeknight dinner.


Write this down

Scan or snap a photo of your handwriting.


Get around

Show us how you generally get around town.


If you contribute to one (or, hopefully, all five!) of the assignments above, we request that you also fill out this quick survey to help us classify and map your iReport.


There will be many more features and exciting news coming about this project within the next few months! For now, get started on these five topics so you can join in the fun. If you have any questions, please comment on this post and we'll make sure we get back to you.

Posted by:
// March 1, 2011
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CNN iReport Awards: Interviews »

Interviewing is a difficult challenge, but it’s one of the most important parts of a good story. Just getting a person to sit down for an interview is tough enough, but convincing people to open up takes special skill.


The iReporters nominated in the interview category of the CNN iReport Awards talked with friends, celebrities, loved-ones and complete strangers and uncovered something real. Watching these interviews gives a unique insight into people’s lives.


Nominee 1: Dad on raising a son with autism




Cynthia Falardeau talked with her husband, Jim, about raising their autistic son, Wyatt. Jim sat comfortably on the family sofa and displayed a quiet calm as Wyatt bounded back and forth in front of the camera.  The result is an intimate look into their family’s life.


Nominee 2:  The pearl diver




Zainab Sutan interviewed Saad Ismail Khalifa Al Jassim at his shop in Doha, Qatar. The 72-year-old former pearl diver is a powerful man, who still trains as a bodybuilder but can still spear tiny beads with a needle and string them into necklaces. Al Jassim said he still loves to be under water, but he has traded the heavy rock he used to tie to his ankle for scuba gear.


Nominee 3: Lindsey Vonn



Chris Morrow caught up with American skier Lindsey Vonn two days after she won a gold medal in the 2010 Winter Olympics. In a wide-ranging interview, Vonn talked about her pre-race superstitions, using cheese to treat sore knees, and offered advice to beginning skiers.


Nominee 4: Teen interviews classmate about life in foster care




Tristan Macaraeg talked to his friend Stephanie about her life in foster care for a high school class project and shared the interview with CNN iReport. Stephanie said she was taken away from her parents because her father was abusive and her mother was never around. She said she’s been in five foster families and had to move around after facing more abuse and neglect. Stephanie said she has a good foster family now, but she’s torn because she knows her mom loves her.


Nominee 5: Topless protesters on Venice Beach



Julie Ellerton covered the Third Annual National Topless Day rally on California’s Venice Beach. The women she talked to said they were marching for gender equity and for the right to take their shirts off at the beach like men do.  Julie also interviewed a man from a Christian group, who objected to the women exposing themselves. Julie treated both sides of the debate with respect and used some skillful editing tricks to keep her video PG.


Please be sure to check out all of the nominees for the CNN iReport Awards and be sure to vote for the Community Choice Award. You can vote once a day until Monday, March 7. We will announce all of the winners on Tuesday, March 15 at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas.

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// March 1, 2011
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