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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

FCC Worries Poor Using Electronics Too Much

Remember the "digital divide"? Back in the 1990s, the problem was that poor people did not have enough access to computers and the Internet. Today the problem is that they have too much access. Evidently the digital divide has given way to the "time-wasting gap." The New York Times reports that bridging the digital divide "created an unintended side effect, one that is surprising and troubling to researchers and policy makers and that the government [naturally] now wants to fix":

"As access to devices has spread, children in poorer families are spending considerably more time than children from more well-off families using their television and gadgets to watch shows and videos, play games and connect on social networking sites."

F.C.C. officials and other policy makers say they still want to get computing devices into the hands of every American. That gaps remains wide — according to the commission, about 65 percent of all Americans have broadband access at home, but that figure is 40 percent in households with less than $20,000 in annual income. Half of all Hispanics and 41 percent of African-American homes lack broadband.       

The new divide is such a cause of concern for the Federal Communications Commission that it is considering a proposal to spend $200 million to create a digital literacy corps. This group of hundreds, even thousands, of trainers would fan out to schools and libraries to teach productive uses of computers for parents, students and job seekers.

Separately, the commission will help send digital literacy trainers this fall to organizations like the Boys and Girls Club, the League of United Latin American Citizens, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Some of the financial support for this program, part of a broader initiative called Connect2Compete, comes from private companies like Best Buy and Microsoft.

These efforts complement a handful of private and state projects aimed at paying for digital trainers to teach everything from basic keyboard use and word processing to how to apply for jobs online or use filters to block children from seeing online pornography.

"Digital literacy is so important," said Julius Genachowski, chairman of the commission, adding that bridging the digital divide now also means "giving parents and students the tools and know-how to use technology for education and job-skills training.

  In his 2000 State of the Union address, President Bill Clinton announced"a national crusade" to "close the digital divide between those who've got the tools and those who don't." Now the Obama administration is launching a national crusade to close the digital divide between those who know how to use those tools properly—for good, pro-social, educational purposes—and those who erroneously use them for mindless entertainment that boosts neither grades nor productivity. (Reason, 5/30/2012)
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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Out Of Africa – Great Safari Tours in the USA

Nowadays, you don't have to travel out to the African wilderness to see beautiful creatures such as lions, elephants, buffalo and rhinos. The wonders of safari can be experienced in safari parks closer to home. Many tour operators now offer affordable holidays to safari parks in the US.

Unlike visiting a zoo, a safari park offers people the opportunity to experience a more realistic wildlife environment. Usually modelled on scaled versions of a natural habitat, safari parks allow animals to roam free within the confines of the perimeter fences.

Africa is arguably still the best place to go on safari holidays because the animals are in their indigenous environment. However, there are many good safari parks around the world that offer a similar experience. Below is a selection of some of the best safari parks in the US.

Everglades Safari Park, Florida
If you are interested in adventure tours, check out the Everglades Safari Park in Florida. This is one of the most popular attractions in the area. Visitors can take an air-boat tour around the Everglades and see the native wildlife such as American crocodiles and alligators. For those who are feeling brave, the park offers visitors the chance to hold a baby crocodile.

Safari West, California

This 400 acre safari park is located in the centre of California's wine country. It is home to over 800 animals including zebra, antelope, buffalo, rhinos and giraffe. The park offers private
adventure tours for up to 10 people, including a guide, wine and snacks. The tour involves a three-hour drive through the park on an authentic safari vehicle. Visitors to the park can also spend a night in a traditional African tent overlooking one of the lakes.

Wild Side, Ohio

Wild Side safari park is a must-see attraction for those eager to be up close to rhinos. The park is an authentic landscape where many grazing African animals are free to roam around. On the shuttled tours you can see giraffe, zebra, cheetah, wild dogs and, of course, rhino. The Wild Side safari park has a selection of safari-style lodges where visitors can spend the night on the park game viewing and experiencing the 'next best thing' to an African safari.

Disney's Wildlife Kingdom, Florida
Some people would not consider Disney's Wildlife Kingdom as a safari park; instead, they would describe it as an animal-themed park. However, this park contains over 250 species of animal and one of its areas is themed on Africa. Therefore, for an 'African experience', it is the ideal place to enjoy as a family. The Wild Trek Africa experience is a private tour that includes a guide and visits the crocodile and hippo enclosures. You can also travel on a traditional safari vehicle and see elephants, giraffes, cheetahs, lions and more.

Virginia Safari Park, Virginia
Home to over 1,000 animals from 6 different continents, this safari park is situated on 180 acres of land. The park has a safari drive-through zoo and a safari walk-through zoo. The drive-through safari is made up of 3 miles of road through the Shenandoah Valley. Here you will see llamas, camels, deer, bison, ostriches and zebras. The safari village walk-through area is a series of paths that visitors can leisurely stroll down and find goats, pot belly pigs, giraffes and baby llamas. Children will enjoy the opportunity to feed and pet these animals in this area of the park.

Safari parks are the perfect alternative to experiencing the real thing in Africa. They provide people of all ages and budgets with the next best thing: an African wildlife adventure in a realistic cage-free habitat.

Claire Jones writes regularly on
safari holidays for a range of travel websites and blogs. Claire has spent a number of years reviewing national and international safari parks. She has also visited the Masai Mara, one of Africa's most iconic parks to experience 'the real thing' for herself.
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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Compton To Catalina Program Launches

1st Trip A Complete Success

The African American Environmentalist Association (AAEA) established a partnership with the Greater Union Baptist Church (GUBC) to operate an environmental tour called the “Compton To Catalina Program,” which takes students and other young people from Compton, California to Catalina Island. The Center and the California Center for Economic Initiatives (CCFEI) are also partnering under the Compton To Catalina Program to expose Compton youth to boat repair and to provide technical training services.

AAEA initiated its Compton-To-Catalina Program on Saturday, April 21, 2012, which is the day before Earth Day. The program began with a press conference at the Greater Union Baptist Church in Compton, California. Participants then traveled to Long Beach, California to board the Catalina Express to make the one hour trip to the island. Once on Santa Catalina Island, the participants boarded the Emerald submersible to observe underwater life around the island. Finally, participants toured Southern California Edison's electricity generating plant at Pebbly Beach, the island's primary electricity generation source.

Long Version 

The purpose of the program is to expose young people from Compton to the Pacific Ocean and an incredibly beautiful island. People take it for granted that the vast majority of these kids never get on the water and many people live their entire lives without directly experiencing the Pacific Ocean even though they live within five or ten miles of it. We believe that such early exposure to this environment could lead to a lifelong environmental stewardship ethic.
The Compton To Catalina Program is being operated thanks to a grant from Southern California Edison.

GUBC recruits people to participate in the Compton To Catalina (CTC) Program. AAEA makes arrangements for the tours and facilitates educational experiences for the students. Each is a daylong affair that includes transportation to Long Beach, where the tours originate. Participants have escorts at all times and activities on the island are arranged to maximize the environmental experience.

We utilize the transport services of Catalina Express. Passengers on board Catalina Express can expect to arrive in Catalina in about an hour from Long Beach. The Catalina Express fleet consists of eight high-speed vessels including four catamarans. The largest vessel in operation, the Catalina Jet has the capacity to carry nearly 500 passengers across the channel. Catalina Express offers up to 30 round trips daily

There are numerous activities available on Catalina Island, including: an Eco Tour Zip Line, hiking, biking, camping, swimming, snorkeling, diving, sightseeing, dining, shopping or relaxing, to name a few. Our main activities include a submersible ride to view submerged vegetation and fish species and an electricity power plant tour.

AAEA, GUBC and CCFEI are providing important environmental and technical services to the youth of Compton, California. This partnership provides a rich environmental experience for participants. The Center will engage institutions and individuals to support the program.

Short Version 
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