World Press Freedom Index: The Philippines Still Dangerous country for Media


There may have been a decrease in the number of journalists killed in the Philippines last year, but the country still remains one of the most dangerous countries for the media, according to the Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontieres, RSF).

In its 2017 World Press Freedom Index, the Philippines ranked 127th most dangerous out of the 180 countries surveyed, with a global score of 41.08. This is 11 places higher, an improvement compared to 138th place with a score of 44.66 points last year.

RSF, however, warned that “the insults and open threats against the media by President Rodrigo Duterte, another new strongman, do not bode well.”

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“The media are fairly free and diverse, but Rodrigo Duterte, who was sworn in as president in June 2016, has alarmed media freedom defenders with his unveiled encouragement of violence against journalists, it said.

According to RSF, tools like private militias and blocktiming “blur” the Philippine “frontiers of journalism.”

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NCAI Condemns President Trump's Derogatory Use of Pocahontas


President Donald Trump offered another shake your head moment on April 28 at an NRA rally in Atlanta, where he again referred to Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren as Pocahontas. And today the National Congress of the American Indians has condemned the President for his comments.

The president has not shied away from his insult from 2016 where he Tweeted that “Pocahontas was not happy” among other comments aimed at Warren, and repeated again in February, by telling the cheering Atlanta crowd: “In the next election, you are going to be swamped with candidates, but you’re not going to be wasting your time…It may be Pocahontas, remember that.” He went on to say that Warren is not a big supporter of the NRA.

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The NCAI, the oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization in the country released a statement condemning the President for his derogatory use of the name.

“NCAI is a bi-partisan organization that works equitably with both sides of the political aisle, and it is not our common practice to comment on the partisan name calling that has come to dominate American politics,” said NCAI Executive Director Jacqueline Pata in the official release. “But we cannot and will not stand silent when our Native ancestors, cultures, and histories are used in a derogatory manner for political gain.”

Pocahontas is a “well-known historical Native figure” that has been turned into a derogatory term. The NCAI release states that, “in fact, the cultural misappropriation of Native American cultures and traditions unfortunately was a common occurrence during the 2016 election season, with multiple attacks by candidates and their surrogates during debates, rallies, and live broadcast appearances.”

As ICMN has reported in a variety of pieces, Pocahontas was a real person with her own story in history that was a “tale of tragedy and heartbreak.” And for that reason “the name of Pocahontas should not be used as a slur,” NCAI states.

“With the election long over, we hoped that President Trump would refrain from using this name as a pejorative term and other such terms that insult Native peoples and degrade their cultures in order to score political points,” said NCAI President Brian Cladoosby. “We hope that this was but a momentary slip-up, and that it is not indicative of how this Administration intends to treat and work with Indian Country moving forward.”

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Trump Taps Indian American Attorney Neil Chatterjee for Key Energy Post


WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said May 8 he intends to nominate Indian American attorney Neil Chatterjee to fill one of the vacancies on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which oversees electricity, natural gas and oil at the national level.

Chatterjee will play a key role in Trump’s program to reshape energy policy, most of which is opposed by environmentalists and Democrats, if his appointment is confirmed by the Senate, reports IANS.

He is the second Indian American to be tapped by Trump for a major regulatory position with a controversial mission.

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The other is Ajit Pai, current chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, who is spearheading the administration’s drive to end net neutrality, a policy that prevents internet service providers from giving special treatment to preferred web companies.

Chatterjee holds the influential position of energy policy advisor to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and helped shape energy legislation.

His work backed the senator’s campaign against regulations to restrict use of coal for electricity generation.

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Applying for Citizenship: I Should Have Done It Sooner


I’ve always thought of myself as hardworking. Every time I do something, I try to do it the best I possibly can – including being a mother to my three beautiful children. But as a single mother living in Lima, Peru, providing food, clothes and opportunities for my kids to learn and grow was a daily challenge. No matter how hard I worked, I just couldn’t make ends meet. For so long, I wanted nothing more than a chance to give them a better life than they had in Lima.

In 2007, I finally got that chance after my mother, who was a U.S. citizen, petitioned for me to join her in the U.S. My children – who were 2, 5 and 7 years old at the time – and I made the journey from our home in Peru to Maryland. I knew it was the best thing for my children, but it was still hard to leave my hometown, especially my family and friends. Even with all the nervousness of living in what seemed like a whole new world, I remember being surprised and excited at how things started looking up for us almost immediately. Within only a few weeks, I got a job helping elderly patients at a nursing home and my kids started at a good school. I will also always remember how warmly the people in our community welcomed us. I had just left everything and everyone I knew thousands of miles away, so feeling welcome in my new community made me feel a little less alone.

Above: The author, Giannina Diaz Coello

Then my excitement turned to anxiety as reality started to set in. Despite how optimistic I was when we first arrived, we barely scraped by. My job payed minimum wage and I saw firsthand how expensive it was to live a short drive away from the nation’s capital. I hardly earned enough to pay for rent, food, clothes and transportation. In some ways, it still felt like our life in Peru. I started to question if we should have come to the United States at all.

But I reminded myself about why I came to the U.S. in the first place – to give my kids a better future. Seeing them get a good education gave me the strength to keep working hard. I was happy when I finally landed a job as a stocker at Target because it paid much better than my job at the nursing home, which made it easier to support my family. But I was also a little sad because I had to work the night shift, which meant my children and I were on different schedules. For nine years they would either come home from school while I was getting ready for work, or I would come home from work while they were getting ready for school. They were growing up and I couldn’t even watch it happen.

I knew I needed a new job so I could have more time with my children, but I also knew my options as a green card holder were limited. That’s why I started to think about applying for citizenship. I knew many immigrants like myself who were able to quality for better jobs after becoming citizens. Then, last year, when the conversation about immigrants in our political discourse began to get ugly, I decided it was time for me to do it.

Even though I knew it was the right decision to apply for citizenship, I had two big concerns. First, I knew pulling together the extra money to file the application would be difficult. I was really worried my broken English wouldn’t be enough for me to pass the interview. I didn’t know what questions they would ask during the interview and was afraid that I would get the money together for the application fee just to be rejected because I couldn’t answer the interview questions well enough. Luckily, I heard about citizenship classes being offered by a local organization called Community Ministries of Rockville and decided to sign up.

During the first class, volunteers went through the entire application process with an attorney from the Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center (APALRC) named Linda Vuong. By the time the session ended, I was completely overwhelmed by the amount of information we needed to know and convinced I would not pass the citizenship test. I remember feeling so hopeless. Thankfully, Linda stayed with me after class and counseled me one-on-one.

I confessed all my fears to Linda: about the application fee, my English abilities and learning all the information for the interview. From the moment we met, she was so supportive. She promised to help me fill out my application and investigate if my income level qualified me for an application fee waiver, (It did!). Linda regularly checked up on me once my application was filed. When I passed the civics test on my first try, I called her immediately. I was so relieved and I wanted her to know that I couldn’t have done it without her words of encouragement.

Thanks to APALRC, I officially became a U.S. citizen in December 2016. Now, they’re helping me complete citizenship applications for all three of my children.

Looking back at my experience, I realize I should not have been worried about applying. If anything, I should have applied sooner! It’s incredible to think about the opportunities that are available to me now that I’m a citizen – like access to better paying jobs, the ability to vote and to travel freely to and from the United States. It’s a really uncertain time for a lot of immigrants. For me, being a citizen is a huge comfort – I know that no one can take these opportunities away from me. I feel secure knowing I can always call America my home. And I’m grateful that my children will soon be able to feel the same way too.

For more information on how to become a U.S. citizen, visit the New Americans Campaign at

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