Tuesday, August 24, 2010

DEA wants to hire ebonics translators.

Recently, CNN reported recently that the DEA, the Drug Enforcement Agency is looking to hire ebonics translators. My only thought was REALLY? I'm not even sure how that would work. Is ebonics even a consistent language? If I were asked, I would definitely describe it as street slang, which constantly changes and adapts with the times.

Reportedly, the DEA is looking to hire ebonics translators because they feel there is a need due to people trying to use ebonics to evade detection, while trafficking in drugs. The DEA recognizes that it's spoken all the time, like Spanish and Vietnamese, but is becoming more prevalent in drug dealers trying to avoid detection.

I'm not sure that a translator's translation could hold up in court. As of yet, I don't know that there is an ebonics dictionary, and that ebonics doesn't vary from city to city. Is ebonics the same in New York as it is in Los Angeles? Goodness know the English language isn't the same in Boston as it is in SoCal or Austrailia or South Africa for that matter. Is there a reliable source on the nuances and differences of ebonics throughout the world?

The term "Ebonics" -- a blend of "ebony" and "phonics" -- became popular in 1996, when the Oakland California School District proposed using it in teaching English. When the school board came under fire for this decision, it voted to alter the plan, which then recognized Ebonics as a distinct language. Today it is most commonly referred to as "urban language" or "street language" which has crossed over geographic, racial and ethnic backgrounds."

But while the language may be getting more recognition, I'm of the opinion that "translating" it in court could prove troublesome and lead to confusion. As CNN points out, there was controversy during the Black Panther trials in the 1970s, when there was debate over whether the saying, "off the pigs," was an actual threat to kill police officers or more metaphorical. I feel like using ebonics translators hired by the DEA could lead defense teams getting their own ebonics "experts" and suddenly the cost of drug trials goes up and up.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Similiar tragedy, less giving...

In an article posted yesterday, by the Canadian newspaper the Globe and Mail, it was laid out that Western donors are giving less toward the most recent world tragedy than they have toward other world catastrophic events.

The reason? The most recent catastrophe occurred in Pakistan. It seems that one week after launching fund-raising efforts to help the victims of Pakistan’s recent devastating floods, a coalition of Canadian charities raised only $200,000 for the region. While some might say that this is a substantial fund-raising effort, it pales in comparison to a week after the tragedy of January’s Haitian earthquake, when more than $3.5-million had been raised in the same time period.

More glaring proof can probably be found in the fact that I can't recall having seen a single television commercial here in the U.S. about the floods. When the earthquake occurred in Haiti, you couldn't watch television for more than 10 minutes without seeing at least 3 commercials detailing how you could help. Text message donations were made available, where one could donate $10 by merely texting the word "Haiti" to a certain number. But for Pakistan, not even a commercial with a mere mention of a group, that one could look up, if one were even interested in helping.

If you are interested, I've just discovered you can donate $10 to Pakistan flood relief by texting "SWAT" to 50555. Or, you can check out Save the Children, which is coordinating relief efforts. Or, if you prefer UNICEF is also sponsoring fund-raising relief efforts.

And quite possibly the most offensive part of all this business are the comment's left on the article published by the Globe and Mail. How people can find derogatory things to say and reasons not to donate to needy children is absolutely beyond me. People are people, regardless of where they are hurting, and you can bet that the people who make decisions to start or continue wars, are not the same people who are starving and homeless due to this tragedy. That's like stating that one should not have helped Katrina victims because Americans stick their nose in everyone's business.

------------------ CHART COURTESY OF THE GLOBE AND MAIL--------------------------------
How far the fundraising for Pakistan is lagging

Total Funding as of Aug. 16/10 Affected population Funding per affected person
Pakistan floods $229-million (U.S.) 14 million $16.36
Haiti earthquake (2010) $3.3-billion (U.S.) 3 million $1,087.33
Kashmir earthquake (2005) $1.2-billion (U.S.) 3 million $388.33
Indian Ocean earthquake/tsunami (2004) $6.2-billion (U.S.) 5 million $1,249.80
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