Blog : October 2012
Top 11 iReport images from Sandy »

Superstorm Sandy devastated parts of the East Coast over the past several days. And as they weathered the storm, iReporters captured thousands of amazing images and shared them with the world. Here are 11 photos and videos that told the story of Sandy like nothing else could.


1. Flooded taxis


The photo of the flooded taxis above could only happen in the New York area. Jonathan Otto captured it and other images in Hoboken, New Jersey, which he says turned into "one big pond" during the storm.


2. Dramatic winds in Jersey City


Water whips through the air and trees become horizontal in this dramatic video from Jersey City, New Jersey. "It was hard to stand up and felt like a freight train was going through the area," said George Nikolis. "At one point the Hudson [River] started coming through our building lobby."


3. Power: Brooklyn vs. Manhattan


As of October 30, much of Brooklyn had electricity, while much of lower Manhattan didn't. This photo of the Williamsburg Bridge by Jordan Shapiro illustrates the situation like nothing else.


4. Subway under water


This Brooklyn subway station looked more like a canal on Monday night. Maggie Huang, who rides the train from this station to work every day, said the water was only a foot from the platform. Luckily, by the next day, the water had drained and the tracks were clear.


5. Crashing Lake Michigan waves


Of course, Sandy didn't only affect the New York area. In this video, the storm churns up unbelievably huge waves in Lake Michigan near Chicago. "I don't believe Lake Michigan has been this violent" before, said Andy Bovos.


6. Flooding in Staten Island


Sandy hit Staten Island, New York, hard. Roshen Weliwatta documented the damage, from boats pushed ashore to cars flooded up to their windows.


7. LaGuardia closed for business


More than 19,000 flights were canceled because of Sandy. This footage from LaGuardia airport in New York, showing the flooded tarmac and runway, illustrates why. It was shot by an airport employee who wishes to remain anonymous.


8. Trees down in the Bronx


In addition to flooding, Sandy knocked down trees and left millions without electricity. In the Bronx, Damion Watkins filmed this video showing the enormous trees that were felled (and took power lines with them). Unbelievably, his power remained on.


9. Building facade collapses


As Sandy passed through New York, it caused all kinds of damage, including ripping the facade clean off a building in Chelsea. Firefighters come to the rescue in this video by Sarkis Alex Kalashian.


10. Huddling around outlets


Electricity has been a scarce resource in New York since the storm hit on Monday. 6.2 million people are still without power, and many won't get it back until next week. In this photo by Marjorie Zien, students at the New School gather in the one building with power.


11. Rocking the boat


Sandy transformed a relaxing cruise into a torrential night on October 26 as the ship and its passengers endured rough waters near Miami, Florida. David Evans shared this video of flooded decks, doors slamming open and shut, and a destroyed gift shop onboard the ship. It's since become the most viewed iReport of all time.


See a map and timeline of all the best Sandy iReports at our Open Story. Are you experiencing the effects of superstorm Sandy? Share your stories, photos and video with CNN iReport. Please make personal safety your first priority.

Posted by:
// October 31, 2012
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Posted in: stories
No roundtable this month »

We won't be holding an iReport roundtable this month, as we're busy gearing up for Election Day. But while we're off, we'd love to hear your suggestions for future discussions.


In the past few months, we’ve looked at how to record the best webcam videos, capture the night sky and improve your smart-phone photography.


What else would you like to learn? In what area do you want to hear feedback? Please share your ideas for other topics in the comments below.


Look for our next big roundtable in November, and check back soon for more information on what’s in store for Election Day!

Posted by:
// October 25, 2012
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Posted in: community
Tell these nonvoters why you vote »



Nani Teruya knocks on doors for candidates -- but she won't vote.


Skyler Gayhart, soon-to-be 18, doesn't feel mature enough to cast a ballot.


And Michael Remen found such a mess at his polling place on primary Election Day that he doesn't plan to vote n November. It just isn't worth the hassle, he says. This, despite the fact that he loves politics and has a firm opinion on just about every candidate and issue on the ticket.


These are three nonvoters I met on a trip to Hawaii last month as part of a new CNN project I'm heading up called Change the List. I went to Hawaii not for the scenery or surf, but because the state has the lowest voter turnout rate in the country. My goal is to help create a conversation that could change that -- not by shaming Hawaii, but by rooting for it as an underdog.


It's a cliche but it's true: Change can start with a person. That's why I'm asking iReporters to help convince one nonvoter in Hawaii to vote in the upcoming election. The three people I described at the top of this post -- Nani, Skyler and Michael -- as well as a few others, have agreed to let the People of the Internet (that's you!) send them messages trying to convince them to vote.


If you're interested, here's what you need to do. Three easy steps:


Step 1: Pick a person. Here are your choices.


#CTL1: Paul Hewlett: The it's-all-good guy.


I met Paul on a beach in Oahu just as he was finishing a night of canoeing. Things are generally pretty good in Hawaii, he said, so he's never felt the need to vote. "I've never voted in my life," he said. "I don't think my one vote is going to make any difference."


#CTL2: Michael Remen: The disenfranchised voter.


Michael loves voting. Along with football, it's his favorite "water cooler" topic. He knows the candidates and the issues. He always voted. Until this year. He had such trouble at his polling place earlier this year -- he spent an hour and a half trying to vote and left frustrated -- that he lost trust in the system. He told me he doesn't plan to cast a ballot in November.


#CTL3: Nani Teruya: The Hawaii separatist.


If you like a challenge, pick Nani. She basically told me she dares someone -- anyone -- to try to convince her to vote. Nani doesn't vote because she doesn't consider Hawaii to be part of the United States. Still, I talked to members of the Hawaiian family who said people like Nani should use their unique voices to sway politicians. Plus, Nani is already engaged in politics. She helped a friend of hers campaign for office, standing on street corners holding signs.


#CTL4: Skyler Gayhart: The high school student.


Soon-to-be 18, Skyler told me he feels to young to vote. Elections and politics are thigns that affect older people -- property owners -- not him, he said. Still, there are issues he holds dear, particularly overcrowding on Oahu. "If you go to Sandy Beach and catch a wave," he said during a discussion about voting in his high school class, "there’s 10 other people on that same wave!"


#CTL5: Nanci Munroe: The one who says it doesn't matter.


Nanci Munroe has several reasons not to vote. Most unique: Hawaii is six hours behind the East Coast. National results are announced before she goes to the polls.


#CTL6: Tyler Tawara: The university student.


"I don't vote because I don't believe what the politicians are saying," said Tyler Tawara, an 18-year-old University of Hawaii student. "I'm indifferent. They're just lying."


Step 2: Send that person a message


You can do that by sending a video on CNN iReport. Or by sending a message on Twitter. Please be sure to include the hashtag for the person you've chosen. If you're talking to Tyler, for example, tag your iReport or Tweet #CTL6. For Skyler, it's #CTL4. Get it? Kinda like "American Idol."


Here's a video I sent to #CTL2.


I would encourage you to make it personal. Why do you vote. A thoughtful explanation may be the best form of persuasion. Or what about that person speaks to you? Do you relate to them?


Step 3: See if your message makes the cut


I created a CNN page for each nonvoter. Check back on these pages to see if your message makes the cut. If it does, it means the nonvoter you chose will see your message. Here they are:


#CTL1 | #CTL2 | #CTL3 | #CTL4 | #CTL5 | #CTL6


Step 4: Find out if you made a difference


Follow the CNN Change the List Tumblr for updates on the project. I'll report back on which -- if any -- of the six nonvoters decides to cast a ballot in November. Thanks so much for your help.

Posted by:
// October 23, 2012
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Posted in: voter, stories, stories
Waverly pep rally iReporter speaks out »


Matt Dishler, the Waverly High School alum who posted an iReport on Monday about a controversial pep rally skit at his former New York school, is laying low right now.


The iReport, which now has nearly 100,000 views and 445 comments, led to news stories and commentary from all over the country, including this article on CNN. Lots of people supported him for speaking out, but many others showered him with insults.


Dishler says he meant what he wrote and he knows he’s probably not going to change the minds of the current students (and others) who have been calling him names on the Internet and treating him like an evil super villain trying to destroy his old school’s traditions and make his town look ignorant and racist.


"I understand that they don’t get why I did what I did. That’s fine. That’s why this problem happened -- because they don’t understand why these things were offensive," he told CNN. "I still personally believe, and will defend to the end, that [the skit] was ridiculous and should have never taken place. I expressed that view and it was obviously a view that was not very popular with quite a few people."


To recap, the controversy began with a photo of Waverly students wearing face makeup to appear black and reenacting performer Chris Brown’s 2009 assault on his then-girlfriend Rihanna. It was part of a skit for Friday night’s pep rally. The photo started making its way around Facebook, where Dishler spotted it in his News Feed on Sunday. He wrote up his thoughts, got some quotes from other alums who saw the picture, and posted the story to iReport.


Dishler, a college student who lives in nearby Elmira, New York, grew up in Waverly, a small town on the New York-Pennsylvania border. Of Waverly's 4,444 people, 4,312 were white, according to 2010 census data.


He had a great experience in high school, and his parents both work for the Waverly school district. But he was offended and wondered how the school could have allowed a skit making light of domestic violence, while also apparently ignoring the racist history of blackface.


He says he hoped posting the photo on CNN would generate some meaningful discussion in the community. And he still hopes that.


He might have succeeded. On Thursday, The Daily Review reported that more than 50 community members packed the Waverly Central School District’s administration building to discuss the fall-out. According to the newspaper, superintendent Joseph Yellch told the crowd, "We're seizing this as a teachable moment … We're putting together a real good, ongoing intervention plan. This is not going to be a one-time thing."

Posted by: dsashin // October 19, 2012
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Posted in: stories
7 foreign policy questions for the candidates at the final presidential debate »

Foreign policy becomes the centerpiece for the final U.S. presidential debate next Monday, and iReporters are already telling us what questions they'd like to ask President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney.


With two previous debates behind them and polls putting the candidates in a tight race, both will be looking to score a few weighty punches ahead of Election Day on November 6. They certainly will have much to discuss, from the conflict in Syria, to tensions between Iran and Israel over Iran's nuclear programme to the European financial crisis.


We took a sample of the topics sparking the most interest and debate amongst iReporters, to see what they would ask both the candidates.


1. What will you do if there is a war between Israel and Iran?

iReporter Rick Huffman from Michigan wants to ask both candidates about an issue weighing on his mind: A potential war between Israel and Iran. “I see that it’s going to happen. It’s just a matter of when,” he said. “For me, I have to know what the response will be because it will affect people here and all around. I’d like to know if they would commit entirely, partially or not at all.”


2. How will you safeguard Syria’s chemical weapons?

iReporter Rummel Pinera from the Philippines wanted to know how both candidates would secure Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons. "It's within the national security interest of the U.S. that such stockpiles of chemical weapons wouldn't fall into the hands of extremist and terrorist groups," he said. "Such an issue should be handled correctly for the safety and security of the American people as well as Arabs."


3. How do you see the U.S.’s role in other nations?

iReporter Harry Hayfield from Wales in the United Kingdom wondered how the candidates see the U.S.'s role in the world and in relation to the United Nations. Because of the ongoing conflict in Syria and concern over Iran's nuclear programme, the issue has become of increasing relevance. "At the moment it's all 'what ifs' about military response," he says. "I want to know whether the decision in 2003 was partisan and whether today it could be non-partisan."


4. How will you limit the impact of another potential European recession on the U.S.?

The repercussions of the European financial crisis continue to spread. iReporter Mark Ivy from Indiana wonders what both candidates would do to to lessen the impact. “What happens in Europe does affect the U.S. and I just wondered if either candidate had a contingency in the event [European] leaders cannot stave off a major recession.” He added, “This issue … has the potential to affect everyone.”


5. How will you help Greece?

Meanwhile in Europe itself, iReporter Marios P. Efthymiopoulos from Greece wanted to know how both candidates would do to help a nation so blighted by the European financial crisis. He also says that Greece and Israel are increasingly aligned and asks both what this would mean for the U.S.’s relations with both countries.


6. How will you help the world’s women?

iReporter Martina Lunardelli from Italy wanted to ask both candidates a question on an issue close to her heart - the rights of women. "There are so many places in the world where we are still persecuted,” she says. “I want to ask if in [their] foreign policy there are resources to pay for help for international women to improve human rights, employment and to eradicate violence and discrimination … in underdeveloped countries.”


7. How will you combat terror?

Independent U.S. voter Beth Alice Barret, a native of the city of New York, is keen to know what the candidates plan to do to ensure the city that suffered the 9/11 attacks – and the rest of the world - is kept safe from future attacks. “Living in NYC, you're constantly reminded of [the attacks] every time you walk outside,” she explained. “Many people worry that a tragic attack will happen again.”


We'll be watching with you, so tune in to the final presidential debate on Monday, October 22 at 9 p.m. ET. What questions on foreign policy would you like to be answered at the debate? Share your questions, or feel free to discuss these questions in the comments below.

Posted by: sarahbrowngb // October 19, 2012
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Posted in: stories
Post-debate questions for moderator Candy Crowley »



We're sitting down with CNN's Candy Crowley to ask about her debate experience for a special edition of the iReport Interview later today. We asked you to share questions for Crowley and we appreciate the 250+ questions thus far!


Here are some of the questions we hope to ask in the interview:


-- As the first woman to moderate a presidential debate in two decades, what do you think are the challenges facing female journalists, especially those who cover politics?

-- Do you think the town hall forum provided more insight from the candidates than the traditional format?

-- Did moderating live up to your expectations?

-- How did you keep control of the candidates so they did not monopolize the conversation?

-- If you could take back one question that you asked, what would it be and why?


After reading those questions, what are we missing? Do you have a question you'd like to see in the interview?


Share your question in the comments or tweet your question @cnnireport with #askcrowleycnn. There's still time, so ask away! Stay tuned for the iReport Interview on soon.

Posted by:
// October 17, 2012
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Posted in: community
5 Independent perspectives from the VP debate »


Depending on whom you ask won the debate, the answer will vary depending on personal politics. Democrats applauded Vice President Joe Biden's aggressive offense and Republicans commended Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan for standing his ground and maintaining his composure.


But what about moderate voters who straddle party lines? Here are five views from Independent voters:


'My decision needs to come from the top'
First-time voter Marcus Harun, 20, is still undecided after the vice presidential debate. The Independent said that Biden and Ryan made him confident that either "could handle being the vice president," but neither candidate swayed his vote. "My decision needs to come from the top of the ticket, from the president." Harun is giving himself until the last presidential debate to decide for whom he should vote.


'I doubt the debate swayed' voters
Moderate Independent Mark Ivy of Farmersburg, Indiana, says the VP debate was a "technical draw" with Biden winning on substance and Ryan winning on “style and demeanor." As for how much this debate mattered, he said, “I doubt the VP debate swayed many Independents and undecided voters one way or the other." A few months ago, Ivy decided he would vote for Romney because of the candidate's stance on the Affordable Care Act, but he remains “open-minded just in case.”


'I got a better sense of the core differences'
Left-leaning Independent Matt Sky says the audience saw a more "interesting, substantive and dynamic" debate and appreciates how Biden and Ryan both delved into specifics. He got a "better sense of the core differences between the two tickets," especially when it came to where the campaigns stand on the budget, he said. Sky is still leaning toward voting for Obama.


'Where has the respect gone?'
Conservative-leaning Independent (and former Obama voter) Jason Asselin was disappointed in Biden's lack of respect in the vice presidential debate. "For every serious answer Ryan tried to give came a smile, snicker or laugh from Joe," he said. "I call this total disrespect." As for who won, Asselin feels Ryan "pulled it off. He showed respect, he kept his cool. The vice president did not."


'You know a Republican's back is against the wall when ...'
Hearing Biden exclaim, "What? Now you're Jack Kennedy?" was David P. Kronmiller's favorite part of the night. "You know a Republican's back is against the wall when they use JFK to defend a position -- especially a Republican of Paul Ryan's Tea Party roots." In all seriousness, the Independent Obama supporter gives the debate win to Biden. Ryan was too "vague" on foreign policy, especially in his "horrible answer on Afghanistan," he said.


Wherever you stand on who won the vice presidential debate, the feisty evening set the stage for an Obama/Romney rematch in Tuesday's debate.


CNN's Candy Crowley will be the moderator. What would you like to ask her about the debate experience? Share your questions for this special edition of the iReport Interview.

Posted by:
// October 12, 2012
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Posted in: stories
Ben's story: Going the extra mile »


Thanks to iReporter Joel David Hinrichs, CNN has obtained additional photos of Ben Baltz, the 11-year-old boy who won the hearts of the internet this week.


This past Sunday, Ben took part in Florida's Sea Turtle Tri Kids triathlon. Not the typical athlete, Ben lost his right leg to bone cancer at the tender age of six, having his fibula and tibia removed. He now uses a mechanical knee and prosthetic leg to help him walk.


Ben had already swam 150 yards, biked 4 miles and had powered halfway through his one-mile run when a screw came loose and his running leg broke in half.


Meanwhile, Kim Baltz waited at the finish line wondering why her son hadn’t crossed yet.


“It was only a mile, I knew he was tired, I was like, ‘Where is he, where is he, where is he?’" she told CNN iReport.


But before further worry set in, she heard the announcer tell the crowd to turn around and look at what was happening on the course. What followed was a heartwarming display that she'll never forget.



Matthew Morgan, Private First Class at Marine Detachment Corry Station, took notice when Ben's leg broke and carried him on his back for the remainder of the one-mile stretch, accompanied by his fellow Marines.


The photos of the Marines were taken by Ben Kruggel and soon after he shared them with iReport, the story went viral –- gaining more than 225,000 views and getting reposted on sites like BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post, and The Daily Mail, among countless others. Ben and Private Morgan were also featured on HLN’s Evening Express.


But the story didn't stop there. iReporter Joel David, who attended the event to support his 9-year-old sister, sent in additional photos of Ben competing in the race before his prosthetic leg broke.


"I photographed several other children, but there was something inspiring about Ben that caused me to focus on him," David said. "He had an inspiring look of determination and I wanted to capture that emotion in a photo."



As Ben and the Marines crossed the finish line, spectators at the event were brought to tears, cheering and pouring out support.


That support has continued to spread across the web, and his mom couldn't be happier to share his story with the world.


“We want to give him the message that he can do anything, and he has an inspirational story, and he just needs to be thankful that he is able to do it because there are a lot of kids out there that are still fighting cancer,” Kim said. “We just want him to get out there and participate in life.”


Thanks to iReporters Joel David Hinrichs and Ben Kruggel for sharing this story with CNN. If you have an inspirational story to tell, upload it to iReport.

Posted by:
// October 12, 2012
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Posted in: stories
7 questions you would ask at the vice presidential debate »


President Barack Obama's lackluster debate performance last week, plus Gov. Mitt Romney's jump in national polls have raised the stakes for Thursday night's vice presidential debate.


From Vice President Joe Biden's history of colorful speeches to Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan's rising GOP star status, the VP debate is likely to get heated.


In anticipation of the face-off, we asked what you would ask the candidates if you were the moderator. While the actual debate questions are selected by the Commission on Presidential Debates, we wanted to measure the pulse of our community. Of the 80 submissions, questions regarding the budget and national debt were popular domestic issues and those referring to foreign policy mostly focused on the Middle East.


Here are the top 7 questions iReporters want answered at Thursday's debate from Biden, Ryan or both:


1. Both: Are we on that path of going to war with Iran just as we get out of Afghanistan?
"It seems like we’re on the same path of going to war with Iran as we were in going to war with Iraq," says Obama/Biden supporter Melissa Fazli. "We are just about to get out of Afghanistan and I really don't want the United States to be pulled into another war in the Middle East."


2. Ryan: What are the differences between the budget you proposed to Congress and Romney's plan?
Matt Sky, a left-leaning Independent, wonders where Ryan and Romney disagree when it comes to the budget plan, considering much of Romney's plan was adapted from Ryan's proposed budget. If the candidates have "significantly different ideas about the budget, that would be valuable information for voters to take into consideration," he said.


3. Both: Why did you vote for the Budget Control Act knowing it included cuts to the military?
Conservative voter Elizabeth Lauten worries about the 2011 Budget Control Act and its proposed cap on military funds. "I grew up a Navy brat and have always put national security and our military as a priority," she said. She appreciates "just how vital funding is to maintain a global presence, particularly in these unsteady times of wars and riots around the globe."


4. Biden: If you are re-elected for another four years, what foreign policy changes will you make?
Republican voter William Bernstein says that according to general consensus, Biden and Obama have been giving "preferential treatment to other countries in giving them more security" than the U.S. "We need a president and vice president who will want the best for the United States first and foremost, before other nations."


5. Ryan: How could Romney have been so wrong when it came to the auto bailout?
In a 2008 New York Times article written by Romney, he said a bailout would mean you could "kiss the American automotive industry goodbye." While Romney was born in Detroit and touted for a "strong" automotive background, iReporter Ryan Murphy, an Independent who splits his time between Detroit and Chicago, asks how he was "so wrong when it came to the auto bailout."


6. Both: What should the U.S. do in order to help the people of Syria attain freedom?
Rummel Pinera, who lives in the Philippines, is most concerned with foreign policy, especially in the Middle East. "I think the Middle East should be the top foreign-policy priority of the U.S. in the next four years. There's a danger that the conflict in Syria might become a regional one," he said.


7. Ryan: Why did you deny the middle class jobs by not passing the president's job creation proposals?
"These issues are important to me because as an American it is my duty to ensure that where I find politicians lying and misleading Americans into voting against their own interest, I call it out," said Obama supporter Egberto Willies, who worries about Ryan's votes against Obama's stimulus proposals.


We'll be watching with you, so tune in to the vice presidential debate on Thurs., Oct. 11 at 9 p.m. ET. What questions would you like to be answered at the debate? Share your question, or feel free to discuss these questions in the comments below.

Posted by:
// October 11, 2012
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Posted in: stories
iReport gets artsy »


You may have noticed some chatter on iReport lately about an event called Flux Night. It's an interactive art festival in Atlanta that happens once a year. This year, it took place on October 6, and CNN iReport was part of the fun!


We organized a mobile scavenger hunt that asked attendees to share photos from around the event, and then we projected their photos onto a wall in real time. More than 400 submissions came in via iReport and Instagram hashtags.



The scavenger hunt was super-fun and successful, and we'd love to try it again at other events on a larger scale so more iReporters can participate. For those of you who weren't in Atlanta, we thought you might like to see some of the gorgeous images that came in. Here's a sampling of the best:



And you can view all the images grouped by category here:


Light | Street style | Patterns | In motion | Favorites




Scavenger hunt photos courtesy Instagram users shapoka, sillyunicorns, bromanbrolanski, haddongk, envelopeatlanta, auroravizion, sydga, calliedeer, jordoham, boulderopal, grinsli, samrturnage, willcortez, jareenai, emkayar, ztothphoto2012, prodmod, da12vid, carmenorchante, tjjazzyj, ccocksedge and sydga.

Posted by:
// October 9, 2012
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Posted in: community
Danish teens study U.S. election through iReport  »

Keeping a group of lively teenage students interested in politics can prove a challenge at the best of times; ask any teacher.


But when one Danish teacher spotted iReport’s call for thoughts on the U.S. election and how it affects the international community, he sensed an opportunity for his classes.


English and history teacher Anders Burman works at Orestad Gymnasium school in the Danish capital of Copenhagen. He felt that encouraging his students to send in questions and thoughts to CNN on the presidential race would give them the perfect platform to engage and learn more about an election that will have an impact beyond U.S. borders.


And keep them busy in the classroom.


“I thought it would be interesting for them, to give them experience from a learning English perspective as their language skills would improve but also because they would actually be producing something,” he said.


“The iReport assignment creates variation and adds relevancy to the course, which is important to keep students engaged in the subject.”


Students responded to two assignments: one inviting iReporters to send in their questions for the candidates, the other asking for international iReporters to send in their views on key subjects such as foreign policy and taxation.


Student Sarah Gaub and her friend, Puk, for example, wanted to share their thoughts on the contrast between Denmark and the U.S. when it came to public service funding and taxes, an issue that has proved one of the most divisive in the election. Their thoughts provided an illuminating glimpse into how the rest of the world views issues that have bubbled to the surface in the U.S. elections.


"Because we are a small country, we have a policy to take care of everybody," Sarah said in her iReport. "It is how we are raised. That is why we have a system where the richest pay more in taxes, so everybody can have the same benefits."


The students also sent in videos asking the candidates questions about the environment, education, health care and immigration – in short, much the same topics that have exercised U.S. voters’ imaginations in recent months.


In the remaining weeks leading up to Election Day on November 6, the classes will continue to follow the major events and debates on the election schedule. On the day itself, Burman will be gathering the classes together for an “election morning” where they will watch coverage - on CNN of course, in addition to local media - and study the results.


“I hope that they will learn more about U.S. politics and the U.S. electoral system in general,” says their teacher, who added that using digital platforms such as iReport meant that the students could also acclimatize to a news landscape that increasingly embraces digital tools to gather, and disseminate, information.


“By creating a video that answers or asks a certain question, the individual student is encouraged to search for, sift through, and select relevant information on the subject,” he said.


“Sifting through and selecting information is a very important discipline [for students] in today's digital world.”


We’re glad iReport can be one of their teaching aids!

Posted by: sarahbrowngb // October 9, 2012
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Posted in: stories
Expatriates turn out for Venezuela election »

From New Orleans, Louisiana, to Bogota, Colombia, Venezuelans living abroad turned out in droves to participate in their country’s election in hopes of ending Hugo Chavez’s rule. More than 100,000 Venezuelans who live abroad registered to vote for this election.


Chavez faced a major challenge to his socialist rule but ultimately won more than 54% of the vote to defeat Henrique Capriles Radonski.


Election Day in Bogota, Colombia began at 6 a.m., and Darina Florez, who shot the above photo, said the process was calm, enthusiastic, organized and united: “People voted for our democracy, and we will be waiting for the results,” she told CNN en Espanol Sunday.


It was a similar scene in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where Adriana Porras said the atmosphere was happy and the lines moved quickly. After the polling center closed, the Venezuelans waiting outside of the embassy sang the national anthem and the "Alma Llanera," a Venezuela folk song.


In the U.S., thousands of expatriates traveled by bus to New Orleans, Louisiana, after Chavez closed Venezuela's consulate in Miami. iReporter Hedi Enghelberg said the atmosphere outside the voting center set up near the consulate was “like a holiday, a big holiday!”


But inside and outside Venezuela, the mood among many voters turned more somber after the polls closed.


“We were expecting to win this election, said Jorge Barrios from Carracas, Venezuela, "but we didn’t win enough votes to change the future of the country.”


See all the iReports from Venezuela’s election here.

Posted by: dsashin // October 8, 2012
 7 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: stories
What the heck is Flux? »

If you check out iReport's top assignments this evening, you may notice that they're all related to something called Flux Night, a one-night interactive arts event here in Atlanta. We’ll be trying something totally new for the evening – a mobile scavenger hunt with photos from participants projected at the event in real-time. We’re super excited to see how it turns out, and – assuming it’s a success – look forward to trying similar experiments elsewhere in the future.


For those of you who aren’t in Atlanta, our Assignment Desk will return to its normal programming once the event is over. And for those of you in Atlanta, come visit us in Castleberry Hill to join in the fun!


The full details are below:



Flux Night, a night of art + experimentation



Castleberry Hill Arts District, Atlanta, Georgia

Map, driving and parking directions here



Saturday October 6, 8 p.m. to midnight


How to participate

Flux is free to attend, and we'd love if you took part in the iReport mobile challenge while you're there! You can use the CNN App, the Flux Night App, or an Instagram hashtag to take pictures of:


-- Something illuminated, with bonus points  for long exposures and light trails: #fluxlight

-- A pattern: #fluxpattern

-- Flux street style, meaning an interesting outfit or accessory: #fluxstyle

-- Something or someone in motion: #fluxmotion

-- Your favorite thing about Flux Night: #fluxfave


And don't forget to stop by our headquarters (on Walker St. across from No Mas) to see your photos on display and pick up some fun freebies. See you there!

Posted by: katie // October 6, 2012
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Posted in: community
Meet Jamescia, iReport's fall intern »

Say hello to our fall intern, Jamescia Thomas!


Jamescia is in her last semester at George State University, pursuing a bachelors degree in sociology. She is a native of Atlanta and previously interned with Zoo Atlanta, Cartoon Network / [adult swim] and the Cannes Film Festival in France, where she studied for four months.


We asked her to tell us something about herself, and this is what she wrote:


“Growing up in Atlanta, Georgia, many of my school field trips included visiting the CNN Center. The tours were always so exciting, from viewing the newsroom to hearing live audio feeds of different broadcasts.


"After every visit, a tour guide always asked ‘Who wants to be a part of the CNN team?’ Each time, I remember enthusiastically waving my hand with the rest of my class. Having this experience and now working with CNN makes the excitement of joining the iReport team so much sweeter!”


In her spare time, you can find Jamescia looking for the next best recipe on Pinterest or at the golf course improving her swing. She's on Twitter at @JamesciaThomas and Jamescia on iReport.


Please welcome her to the iReport team!

Posted by: dsashin // October 5, 2012
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Posted in: site
Debate or debacle? Democrats let down, Republicans energized »


The first debate between President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney Wednesday night had some Democrats wondering, "What happened to my president?" while GOP supporters reveled in their candidate’s performance.


By most accounts Romney was the clear winner, while Obama, known for his oratory skills, came across as lethargic and unengaged. According to a CNN/ORC International survey conducted right after the debate, 67% of debate watchers questioned said that the Republican nominee won the face-off.


“This was not the Obama I expected to see. What should have been a robust debate quickly devolved into a shellacking by Gov. Romney,” wrote iReporter Randi Johansen of Kent, Washington.

“Romney appeared dominant and aggressive while Obama kept his head bowed and looked like a kid being scolded by his school teacher. Obama had no FIGHT in him tonight. Before the next debate I suggest Obama call up Honey Boo Boo to ask if he can borrow some of her "go-go juice."


That was the general consensus among voters who shared their views with iReport. 1drvpr, echoing others, felt Obama "let down a lot of people," while Sahit Muja said Romney "destroyed Obama point for point."


Conservative Kathi Cordsen could hardly contain her enthusiasm.


"I was looking forward to this for so long. I had no idea that this would be so good," said "Every single time [Romney] was asked a question, he didn't pause. He blurted it out like he was supposed to. He was just strong. It's not that he won; it's more that Obama lost."


Likewise, Republican Elizabeth Lauten,  a volunteer on the Romney campaign, was cheering. “Mitt Romney really  brought his A-game and out-debated the President all night long even  though Obama had nearly four and a half minutes more speaking time," she  said. "Romney showed the country he's not only ready to be President,  but he's ready to clean up Obama's mistakes. I can't wait to see what  the next debate brings!"


David P. Kronmiller, who voted for Obama in 2008, said he could think of just “one really good moment” from the president, "when he talked about his grandmother and how she raised him.” The Burbank, California, voter said he was surprised Obama didn’t take on Romney more forcefully “for wanting to raise taxes on lower income families and lower middle-class families, which is what Mitt Romney's [tax] plan basically does."


That said, Romney's performance was not without criticism. cancan2012 suggested the governor came on too strong and "dismissed every fact about what he has said on the campaign trail and denied ever saying it." Egberto Willies conceded Romney may have won the debate "in style and preparation," but worries that voters will take "the statements without facts that he continued to make and assume he was knowledgeable on issues, or that he would be better for the middle class."


Looking ahead to the rest of the campaign, Obama supporters are unlikely to underestimate Romney, said Gretchen Essenmacher-Kinard, a back-up singer in Punta Gorda, Florida, who voted for the president in 2008 but has since switched her allegiance to Romney.

“He always came across as a bit weak when it came to speaking in public. I have much more confidence in his ability to project his visions and goals for our country now,” she wrote. “Many of the President's supporters believe Romney is this corrupt businessman who is just trying to add another notch to his belt. And they, like the President, tended to believe that Romney isn't nearly as smart as President … I guess today they will have to eat humble pie.”


Kronmiller is counting on the Vice Presidential show-down next week between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan to raise the bar on future debates.


"Joe Biden's great for an hour and a half," he said, "so hopefully it will be a more entertaining and lively night."


What was your take? Did the debate change your view of either of the candidates? Post your thoughts in the comments, or record your own video.

Posted by: dsashin // October 4, 2012
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Posted in: stories
10 questions you would ask at the presidential debate »


Follow Wednesday's presidential debate coverage starting at 7 p.m. ET on CNN TV, and via CNN's apps for iPhone, iPad and Android. Web users can become video editors with a new clip-and-share feature that allows them to share favorite debate moments on Facebook and Twitter.


As America gets ready to watch President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney square off on domestic policy at their first presidential debate Wednesday, there are a lot of questions up in the air.


We asked you, the voters, what questions you would ask if you were in the moderator seat. While the questions for all the debates are decided by the Commission on Presidential Debates, we wanted to take your pulse on what you'd like to hear. Of the more than 100 submissions, questions regarding the economy, health care and other domestic issues were among the most popular.


Here are the top 10 questions iReporters want answered at Wednesday's debate:


1. Romney: Will you uphold any of the provisions in the Affordable Care Act?
"My dad has been chronically ill for a number of years. He was approaching the lifetime cap when the Affordable Care Act bill was passed," said college student Chris Wolfe. The passage of the health care bill kept his father from losing his insurance, and possibly saved his life.


2. Obama: Why did you not focus primarily on jobs during your first two years in office?
iReporter Mark Ivy, a moderate Independent, points out that the economy was in such "bad shape" when Obama took office, and questions why the President didn't "use his political clout on finding solutions to right the economy and inspire business to return to expanding and hiring."


3. Both: How will you pay Social Security to the baby boomers?
Baby boomer Steve Parker, 51, is worried that there won't be any money left in Social Security when he reaches retirement. "If you're not going to let me have Social Security, then you should cut me a check for every penny that I paid in to it," he said.


4. Obama: Why are current homeowners not getting the same deals as Wall Street?
Melissa Fazli was inspired to ask about homeowner rights because she worked as a realtor during the housing bubble. "Current homeowners are not getting the same deals as Wall Street bankers/investors or any new buyer," she said.


5. Both: What is your plan to put America back to work?
iReporter Jannet Walsh from Murdock, Minnesota, has struggled with unemployment after moving home to care for her mother. "The new normal for a career is probably no career because you've lost your job," she said. She's keen to hear a specific plan and time table from both candidates.


6. Both: Who had the better auto bailout solution?
While the candidates had differing ideas on how to handle the bailout of the U.S. auto industry in 2009, Jamison Luther says both ideas ended in bankruptcy. He would like to see the candidates defend their stances on the bailout and see them "display their economic ideas, articulation, and execution on a real world event," he said.


7. Both: What most concerns you about your opponent's views on immigration?
Left-leaning Independent Matt Sky has been hearing a lot about immigration, but he thinks both candidates lack a "clear plan" on this issue. "Too often we hear vague statements from the parties accusing each other of not taking the immigration issue seriously or fairly without laying out specifics."


8. Both: Why are seniors being punished for going back to work?
Rick Huffman, 63, works as a security guard and feels it's wrong to "punish seniors" who must work after the age of 62. "I am upset that seniors are taxed on their Social Security after having already paid taxes over the years they pay into it," he said.


9. Both: Where do you stand on climate change?
"I'm concerned that I'm hearing the candidates talk a lot about jobs and the economy, but have been hearing very little about climate change, which was a huge story this past summer with the record shattering drought, and other severe weather events," said mother and nature lover Cary Okoro.


10. Romney:  Where should the government be involved in LGBT rights?
Kyle La Rose, an openly gay man, feels Romney has failed to take a clear stance on the federal government's role in gay rights. He said that while the candidate is weary of big government, he has no problem ignoring that concern when saying he supports the Defense of Marriage Act.


We'll be watching with you, so tune in to the first presidential debate on Wed., Oct. 3 at 9 p.m. ET. What questions would you like to be answered at the presidential debate? Share your video question, or feel free to discuss these questions in the comments below.

Posted by:
// October 2, 2012
 155 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: stories
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