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Author: asciutto

Expanding Horizons, One Book at a Time

As you may or may not  know, I am currently a Teach For America corps member teaching 10th Grade English in Charlotte, North Carolina.  One of the greatest challenges my students face is  the incredible pressure of No Child Left Behind that is placed on low-performing schools.  This pressure is creating incredible resistance to reading in the students who need to be reading the most.  This resistance is born from the “readicide” that is occurring in classrooms across our city in schools with the highest need.  In order to pass a standardized test, students are given skill-and-drill lessons day in and…

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Social observations of urban and rural Peru

I’m four seven weeks late to write this, but I’ve come to learn that life gets in the way like that sometimes. My 10-day trip to Peru … well it was a 10-day trip to Peru. Lima, Cusco, the Andes, Machu Picchu — the story is in the pictures, and we have thousands of them. My observations, however, didn’t translate quite well to film. Lima is a magnificent city, one that often gets unnecessary flack from travelers for “being empty” of value for tourists. I disagree wholeheartedly, as the Peruvian capital is one of the greatest places I’ve had the pleasure of…

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For the sake of American investment, end the Cuban Embargo

Unless Uncle Sam is content sitting idly as foreign banks shape the future of a nation only 90 miles from American soil, it’s time for the Obama administration to put down the Bacardi and lift the Cuban Embargo. Since President Raúl Castro took the reins from his brother Fidel in 2008, the Cuban government has gradually loosened its grip on the island’s crumbling economy. The latest move toward reform came at the end of last month, when Cuba’s National Assembly passed a transformative foreign investment law aimed at boosting sluggish GDP growth.  Under the new legislation, the details of which…

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Suicide spike on LA’s Metro Blue Line

In sunny Southern California, a cloud of despair lingers above a 22-mile stretch of railroad track that runs from Downtown Los Angeles to the port city of Long Beach. The Metro Blue Line, one of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority’s six public rail transportation lines, has claimed the lives of 33 suicide victims since it began operating in 1990. Ten of these incidents have occurred in the last three calendar years, the most recent on Sept. 5, 2013. Shortly after that suicide, Metro officials held a press conference to ask the public for help. “They keep happening on…

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USC Annenberg Agenda highlights innovation from nation’s top J-School

USC Annenberg recently published the Winter 2013 edition of its biannual USC Annenberg Agenda. With a fresh, contemporary format, “Digital Media Leadership: Ideas From The USC Annenberg School For Communication and Journalism” features original content from faculty and alumni who are shaping the futures of the communication, journalism, public relations and public diplomacy fields. “USC Annenberg is a world-class institution filled with world-class scholars, writers, researchers and thinkers,” said Jeremy Rosenberg, Assistant Dean of Public Affairs and Special Events. “The information we can convey in a 40-page magazine is the tip of the iceberg.” Read more here.

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Starving for Hope in Los Angeles County

On a crisp November morning in Los Angeles’ MacArthur Park, dozens of scattered bodies stir to life. Woken by families setting up picnics and the whistles of tamale vendors, the homeless rise from beds of dirt with aching stomachs. A new morning has arrived with hunger, along with the fear that another day will pass without a hot meal. Kara Smith, a 25-year-old Westlake apartment manager, is doing her best to feed them a little hope. One Sunday a month, she organizes a free community meal in the park. Volunteers come from across LA County and beyond to serve platters…

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LA police department uses “Chinese Twitter” to boost civic engagement

USC Annenberg’s hyperlocal, trilingual news site Alhambra Source launched a groundbreaking social media partnership with the Alhambra Police Department earlier this month. Using Weibo, a Chinese-language micro-blogging site often compared to Twitter, the agency created a digital platform through which the San Gabriel Valley community’s large Chinese immigrant population can interact with city officials. “The long-term goal is to help the Alhambra Police Department establish something to help more Chinese immigrants, especially the newer ones, become more assimilated and engaged in the civil process,” said Walter Ma, an Alhambra Source community contributor. To read the full article, click here.  

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USC Annenberg professor comments on GTA V release

Ed. Note: Communication Professor Dmitri Williams is an expert on the social and economic impacts of new media and video games. Below, Williams spoke with us about this week’s record-breaking release of “Grand Theft Auto V” and his work with startup Ninja Metrics. Asciutto: “Grand Theft Auto V” released Tuesday to a record first-day sale of more than $800 million. What about this specific game caused it to steamroll its way into the history books? Williams: GTA is the “Star Wars” of video games. The developers could roll out of bed and their next game would make a fortune. Having said that, this is a studio…

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I put on my shoes and started south down my block, blasting “Enema of the State” to drown out the lull of helicopters and sirens. I sprinted and let it all out of me. I ran from my pitchless stories, my guilt and fears. I ran from my indecisiveness, my apathy and self-inflicted wounds. I ran until my back ached and my legs couldn’t take it anymore, then I stopped. The forgotten on Jefferson, packing their carts with bottles from the lavanderia. Two gordidos, no older than 7, scooting down Raymond on skateboards, their mothers watching from inside barricades of…

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