G20 Coming to Toronto in July

The G20 summit will take place in Toronto July 26 and 27, 2010. Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the location for the meeting Monday morning.
The Group of Eight meeting was to take place in Huntsville, Ontario. That has been canceled over lack of hotel rooms. To host the G20 summits a venue requires at lest 10,000 hotel rooms. The city of Huntsville has around 1,000 rooms. Toronto can easily accommodate the international visitors.
Huntsville is in the District of Muskoka, in the heart of cottage county. While it is an upscale location for tourists there simply is not enough space to hold the international event. The international summits also require air-tight security for the international delegations that come into a city.
The second G20 summit meeting of 2010 will take place in Seoul, Korea in November.

Artists’ Alliance for Mental Health Canada Breaks Down Barriers

The Artists’ Alliance for Mental Health Canada is a group in Canada that brings together artists with mental health issues. Their goal is to break down the barriers of stigma and discrimination when it comes to mental illness.
The goal of the group is to sign up at least 1,000 artists across Canada to be part of this initiative. By gathering those who live with mental illness on a day in and day out basis the group hopes to be able to change the society within Canada on this issue. Patrick John Timothy Connors is a Leadership Team Member with the group. He spoke to Digital Journal about what his hopes for this group are. The group was launched by the founder Greg ‘Ritallin’ Frankson, a poet in Ottawa, this week. At this stage the group is brainstorming on ways to help break down the barriers that those with mental illnesses face and recruiting more volunteers.
“There will be events held in 2010 in Ontario,” Connors promised during a telephone interview with Digital Journal. Connors himself is a spoken word artist in Toronto. He leans towards the academic side of poetry performing his art on open mike nights.
“I’m a middle-aged White guy,” Connors laughed when I asked if he goes to the local Poetry Slams to perform.
Connors told me that this group is close to his heart. He has suffered from depression form time to time and understands the problems that face those with mental health issues.
“Mental health is a huge part of Canada. It’s seen everywhere, from the homeless to the family home. It tears apart the fabric of Canadian family life.”
Connors said that The Artists’ Alliance for Mental Health Canada main goal is to promote awareness about mental health and to help those dealing with mental illness to be welcomed and embraced in society. “By helping one another we help ourselves. We’re making our society stronger.”

Joe Medicine Crow gets Presidential Medal of Freedom

During World War II a soldier entered into the battle wearing traditional war paint under his uniform. On Wednesday the soldier, Joe Medicine Crow was at the White House to receive the Presidential Medal of Medal.
Joe Medicine Crow has walked in two sets of moccasins, understanding both the Indian and white man’s worlds. His grandfather, who helped raise Joe wanted him to become a warrior even if the family did not live on Indian land. When Joe was just a young boy about 6 years old his grandfather had him running barefoot around outside during the cold Montana winter. National Geographic Kids reports:

“The next day he said, ‘Run around twice,’” says Medicine Crow, chuckling. It might sound crazy, but there was a reason. “He was training me to be a warrior!”

Joe Medicine Crow joined other world leaders to be honoured by President Obama for their contributions to the world. Joe came from a line of warriors. His step-grandfather, White Man Runs Him, was an eyewitness to the Battle of Big Horn while acting as a scout for George Custer. During the war Crow helped retrieve dynamite that was used to attack the Germans. He earned a Bronze Star for his courage under fire. Crow, a 95-year-old Crow Indian was the first of his tribe to earn a master’s degree. His thesis, “The Effects of European Culture Contact upon the Economic, Social, and Religious Life of the Crow Indians” is the most read source even today for the history of his people. The oldest member of the Crow tribe, Joe Medicine Crow is the last surviving war chief. He is a strong advocate for his people, still bridging the gaps between reservation life and the outside world.

Toronto’s TeamSickKids Off For the 17th World Transplant Games

A group of athletes from Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children are headed to the Gold Coast of Australia to compete in the 17th World Transplant Games with TeamCanada.
Each one of the 25 members of the team have received a heart, lung, liver or kidney transplant. The athletes have been training for months to take part in the games held August 22 to August 30. Sick Kids reports:

“One of the main goals of our organ transplantation program is to provide a better quality of life and as normal a childhood as possible,” said Mary Jo Haddad, President and CEO of SickKids. “Our patients’ participation in the World Transplant Games is a testament not only to the quality of care they have received but also to their own and their families’ resolve. It is their determination, spirit and enthusiasm that we are celebrating today.”

The children that left for the Gold Coast have prepared for several months in an exercise training program with SickKids physiotherapists. This is the second time the team has appeared at the World Transplant Games. In 2007 the 17 heart transplant patients that attended brought Canada back 38 medals from Bangkok, Thailand. The team was the only delegation from Canada to send a team to the Games at that time. This year’s team all receive their treatments at SickKids. The team is comprised of members from eight to 18 years of age. Sick Kids quotes Dr. Anne Dipchand:

“At the 2007 Games, Team SickKids athletes had the opportunity to meet and interact with transplant recipients of all ages and organs,” said Dr. Anne Dipchand, Associate Director of the SickKids Transplant Centre, Head of the SickKids Heart Transplant Program and General Manager of Team SickKids. “One of the greatest highlights for both the parents and the kids was to see people who had received organ transplants as kids, who have grown up into adults leading healthy, successful and fulfilling lives.”

Returning champ Jessica Dorcich, 10, enjoys the chance to meet with other heart transplant patients just like her.

“Even though we have all had different experiences, it is nice to know that we have this chance to come together and compete and show the world what we can do,” she said.

The Daily Observer says that more than 1,500 people from 60 countries will be Down Under competing in the Games this year.

White House not happy with school lunch ads starring Obama girls

There were 14 ad banners at Washington D.C.’s Union Station on August 4 that the White House wanted to disappear. A young girl is featured asking, “President Obama’s daughters get healthy school lunches. Why don’t I?”
The White House may want the ads gone but they are within the right of free speech. While the administration has said that using the daughters of President Obama infringes on their private life, the ads only ask a legitimate question. ABC Blogs reports:

“We’ve been very clear I think from even before the administration started that their two girls would have a very private life, and we want to protect that private life and their privacy,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said this morning when asked about the PCRM posters. “And we hope that others will be respectful, as many in the media have been, about not using the girls as a publicity stunt.”

No one though is speaking on behalf of the eight-year-old Jasmine Messiah of Miami-Dade who is featured in the ad asking a very real question of the government. Why do some children reap the benefits that all children deserve? The ads are from the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) who are lobbying for healthy lunch programs within the nation’s school systems. CBS Blogs reports:

“The contrast is not with the daughters,” Dr. Neal Barnard says of the controversial poster, pointing out that Sasha and Malia’s names and pictures are not in the ad. “The contrast is with the school the president’s daughters are able to patronize. Sidwell Friends is able to offer health nutritious meal options.” Veggie burgers are offered alongside hamburgers, vegetarian chili is served next to meat chili with higher cholesterol, he says. “Go a mile away to any school in the district” and what options are there to a bologna-and-cheese sandwich? he asks. “What’s left? Nothing. Nothing at all.”

Little Jasmine brings her own lunch to school by the way in order to have fruits and vegetables. MSNBC quotes the young girl:

“Sometimes I bring in broccoli and carrots and my friends are like, ‘Ewww, this is disgusting,’ ” she told The Miami Herald. “But I think if they tried it more, they’d like it.”

Jasmine is wise. The United States is dealing with a nation of children that have unhealthy diets. At this point one in three will deal at some point in their lives with diabetes. Changing the diets of children in the school could lead to a healthier nation. The campaign by PCRM points out the fact that the average school is pushed to serve high-fat, high-cholesterol foods. This is in spite of the knowledge that a low fat, vegetarian diet helps prevent obesity, heart disease and diabetes. The federal child nutrition legislation does not have provisions in place to support vegetarian meals in schools. News 8 reports that the ads will remain in place at Union Station until August 31.

Associated Press to drive traffic to new AP-hosted website

The Associated Press (AP) is planning to prevent members and customers from publishing some of the AP’s news content on their websites. AP will instead have other news sites link directly to the main AP website for that content.
The Associated Press has put together a briefing of their plans sent to AP members late in July. The document labeled “AP CONFIDENTIAL — NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION” was sent to Nieman Journalism Lab, a project of the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University. Titled “Protect, Point, Pay — An Associated Press Plan for Reclaiming News Content Online,” the document outlines a tracking device that will be attached to future AP content. The Protect, Point and Pay directive will put a copyright on AP content. Nieman Lab reports:

“So a headline item that says, ‘Mid-air collision outside of New York and tourists die,’ let’s say. You can imagine, in the New York area, there are lots of media covering that story.” Kasi, the AP’s general counsel, “it’s not to suggest that there’s a legal distinction.”

The newswire coverage would remain in place, but at a lesser degree than the more complex and unique materials. In easy-to-understand terms, the AP wants users to pay for the content and to drive additional traffic to their site. That move could put bloggers and smaller journalism sites at risk if they use AP content. It could also have those users refusing to take a chance with AP content, thus reducing traffic to AP’s site. AP will be using a microformat called hNews, Ars Technica reports. The program annotates news stories with information about the author, dateline and other key meta targeting aspects. It is open-source software. That software is already in use by some other media outlets in an effort to ensure users tag all sources used. It remains to be seen if AP’s plans will strengthen their hold on news content or if it will have news media sites turn away to other sources.

Computers are becoming the standard text book

Millions of trees could be sighing a breath of relief in the future as computers become the standard in schools instead of textbooks if some reports are correct. Still those mighty oaks will have to wait a while before they are in the clear.
Not everyone is in favor of textbooks going the way of the dinosaur but it does make ecological sense. Textbooks are quickly outdated while computers are updated within minutes. Still it depends on what level of education to understand the near future trends when it comes to textbooks vs. computers. It may be many years before the companies that make those heavy textbooks delve into a world without pages to turn. In college those tomes are a money maker. Students generally spend over $1,000 a year for their books. As professors demand the latest editions the used books are worthless for the next year’s students. Delaware Online reports:

“It’s safe to say that paper, printed texts continue to be the bulk of the demand,” said Elio DiStaola, spokesman for the Follett Higher Education Group, which manages 800 bookstores in North America, including those at Delaware State University and St. Mark’s High School. “But we’re seeing more of those texts available in the electronic format. Our bookstores are preparing for that shift to accelerate. We have to assume that it will.”

There are about 4,500 college stores in the United States that survive because of those heavy tomes. With average sales hovering around $3 million the owners are unlikely to push for computers being the new textbooks. Computer teaching has a more self-study approach than standard textbooks approach. Information on the computer is grasped in a different way than when it is obtained by reading a book. It’s hard to write in the margins of a computer after all. While higher learning institutions don’t see the textbook being replaced by computers United States school systems may be nudging towards that day. A report in The New York Times shows that many school districts are providing their students with computers for lessons and homework assignments. Some teachers see the day when the computer is the textbook.

“Kids are wired differently these days,” said Sheryl R. Abshire, chief technology officer for the Calcasieu Parish school system in Lake Charles, La. “They’re digitally nimble. They multitask, transpose and extrapolate. And they think of knowledge as infinite. “They don’t engage with textbooks that are finite, linear and rote,” Dr. Abshire continued. “Teachers need digital resources to find those documents, those blogs, those wikis that get them beyond the plain vanilla curriculum in the textbooks.”

In California some science and math texts are being replaced with open source digital versions. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger hopes that this initiative could save hundreds of millions of dollars each year. The computer is not a reliable text tool though unless every student is equip with not only their own device but also with Internet access.

“A large portion of our kids don’t have computers at home, and it would be way too costly to print out the digital textbooks,” said Tim Ward, assistant superintendent for instruction in California’s 24,000-student Chaffey Joint Union High School District, where almost half the students are from low-income families.

The fairly near future though may see kids toting their computer bags instead of backpacks jammed full of books weighing half of what they do. The future student may not understand how their parents sat in a class listening to a teacher lecture and then going home to read chapters at a time. They are liable to ask, “But what program did you use to store the information in so that you could use it later Mom?”

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