Saturday, November 21, 2009

Would Ben Franklin have supported Josh Wolf? No!

The Josh Wolf story, an independent journalist that was jailed for failing to comply with a court order to surrender videotape of a 2005 San Francisco protest, is a story about freedom of the press. It's a story that raises the importance of balance between constitutional rights and the law.

Wolf refused to let police view his video, claiming journalistic privilege, while also protecting sources that were promised anonymity. He went to jail when he stood his ground and kept his promises.

Let reporters report and let the people decide. Life isn't simple in a democracy. Where is the balance struck between our right to know, and the government's need to withhold certain information so that it can accomplish certain things, like national security agendas?

The checks and balances that catalyze a democracy, will probably always collide with the foundational freedoms of our constitution. It's a complicated dance and the steps change all the time.

I feel that our need to know will always trump the government's need to control. History repeatedly proves that the government always finds a way to get around the constitution. Sometimes they get caught and sometimes they don't.

It doesn't matter what laws we profess to abide by, people will always talk about what they want to talk about. Information cannot be suppressed if it inflames the citizenry.

When government imposes their agenda to usurp the freedom of the press, people should be concerned. I think that we should always question government, but especially when they get heavy-handed with the freedom of information like they did with Josh Wolf.

On the other hand, the police wanted Wolf's video to find criminals that tried to torch a cop car. Wolf refused and he went to jail. Criminals should be punished and Wolf should've allowed his film to be viewed. Otherwise, he's impeding a police investigation. That's not cool! Law enforcement has a tough job and he could have helped. It gives the appearance of aiding in a crime, as if his footage in fact did show who lit the fire.

Maybe he's actually guilty and deserved to go to jail. Like I said, the dance steps change everyday. Josh danced his dance and now he's out with greater fame than his blog ever got him. I don't feel so bad for him.

Friday, November 20, 2009

California Students Protest. Ya Know? The Kids Are Alright.

Not since the days since the Vietnam War era have I seen protests on college campuses like we're witnessing in California after regents for the University of California voted Thursday to hike student fees by a whopping 32 percent.

On average, students will pay $2,600 per year more to attend any of the ten U of C campuses throughout the state. Some of those schools, like U of C Berkley, world-famous as a research institution, will certainly cost a lot more.

Students are covering their faces with bandanas, wielding protest signs and staging sit-ins on many of the campuses today. Berkley alum and long-time professors must be giddy! Oh the glory days of the Vietnam protests! Oh the vintage memories of days gone by when social responsibility mobilized grass roots messages of dissent.

Arrests are being made and there are reports that some protestors have been tazed, bro. With all the hoopla I'm sure that all roads leading west into California are clogged tonight as Deadheads (and some confused Dave Matthews hangers-on) slowly feel their way through the night to rendezvous with their hippie brethren (sistern?)to participate. Could this coming week see a gathering of social conscience akin to 40 years ago on Max Yasgur's dairy farm near Woodstock, New York?

It's heartening to see Generation Y, and other Millenials reach back and take a page from their grandparents' playbook. Civil disobedience used to be a mainstay on campuses decades ago and it surprises me that today's students aren't more active in making their opinions known. Blogs, YouTube posts and tweets just can't punctuate your outrage as much as calling your roommates from the pokey, after you've been cuffed and booked for civil disobedience.

After surfing the net and watching this story unfold, I gotta tell ya, the kids are alright.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

UVU Library Gropings and Flashings May Be Related

Two reports of women being groped in the UVU library over the last two weeks prompted campus police to issue a text alert Friday morning and police state that the gropings may be connected to two incidents of a man exposing himself to female students in the library back in August.
Friday morning police issued the alert about the gropings, which they state first occurred in mid-October, with a second incident happening earlier this week.
            All four events, each occurring in the UVU library, share similarities in the description of the perpetrator, described as a white male with light brown hair, in their early 20s and approximately six feet tall.
            “It appears they favor the library,” said UVU police detective Kelly Liddiard.  “The suspect’s description is pretty similar in all of these cases.”   Both gropings happened in the afternoon, he said.
            So far no similar incidents have been reported to UVU police and police are requesting that victims come forward with information on any similar events that may not have been previously reported.
            Liddiard also stated that the acts appeared to be random and police are uncertain regarding any motives behind each of the incidents.  He reminded everyone on campus to be on guard and to immediately call police dispatch with any concerns of suspicious activities.
            UVU police dispatch is open 24/7 to take reports and to dispatch officers.  The phone number is 863-5555.
Two separate sexual assaults on the University of Utah campus earlier this month prompted officials at that school to also issue warnings to students.
Two female students, walking near the Heritage Center on the U of U campus were grabbed and then groped by a man while simultaneously making sexually explicit comments.  Neither victim reported any injuries and the man fled the scene before he could be captured.
Police describe the attacker in that case as a white male in his mid to late 30's, 5 feet 9, 200 to 210 pounds. 
Another woman was grabbed later in the same week, this time by a man described by police as a husky, Hispanic male.  Police report that the perpetrator also made some sexually explicit comments during the attack.
Police deny that those two separate attacks were committed by the same person, and investigators don’t believe that the attacks are related.
Investigators from both schools will meet this week to compare notes on the incidents, according to UVU spokesman Chris Taylor.  In the two latest incidents in the UVU library, the perpetrator immediately fled after inappropriately touching the victims, he added.  Taylor echoed police comments that the incidents appear to be random and without obvious motive.
This story can also be read online

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The first most wonderful time of the year

I have loved this prolonged Indian Summer!  The stubborn leaves that remain on the trees are brilliant and beautiful.  I wish they could hold on throughout the holidays because they are way more festive than the usual commercial Christmas decorations.

As the sun sits lower in the sky every day, blazing sunsets illuminate gold quakies and hot orange embers fluttering on tree limbs in the fall breezes.  Taking my kids to school in the morning is a glowing drive through neighborhoods softly lit in the warm light of early morning sun shining through the leaves.  It is a beautiful time of year!

The trees in my own neighborhood take turns dumping their leaves. Neighbors can enjoy a different show each week because it seems that no two trees drop leaves at the same time.  Across the street is a gigantic old walnut tree that is always the first to drop.  My neighbor Robert, whose house has been shaded by that tree for over 30 years, recalls climbing it when he was a boy, over 60 years ago.  I wonder if that old tree drops its leaves first much like my tired, retired neighbors don their jackets and sweaters earlier in the fall than I do.

The willow tree in my front yard has again been the last to shed it's leaves.  Elongated and slender, they are just turning yellow and beginning to litter my yard and the street.  It's a good thing that my boy Tuffy loves using that new leaf blower I bought last month!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Army officer doesn't want to do his job so goes on shooting spree - kills 12

It's all over the news.  Army Major Nader Hasan stood up in a crowded room of Americans preparing to deploy to war and emptied two handguns, killing 12 and wounding 30.  He was wounded by a police officer and taken to a hospital where he was treated and stabilized.

Hasan had been telling his family since 2001 that he wanted to get out of the military, according to a spokeswoman for a cousin, Nader Hasan.  Major Hasan told his family he had been taunted after the September 11 attacks, the spokeswoman said.

"He was mortified by the idea of having to deploy," his cousin told the New York Times. "He had people telling him on a daily basis the horrors they saw over there."

Hasan was born in the United States, graduated with a degree in biochemistry from Virginia Tech and made his way up through the Army ranks, promoting to major in May 2009.

Staff Sgt. Marc Molano said that Hasan treated him for post-traumatic stress disorder earlier this year at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, CNN reported.  "Dr. Hasan provided me with nothing but the best care," Molano said. "He was a very well-mannered, polite psychiatrist, and it's just a shock to know that Dr. Hasan could have done this. It's still kind of hard to believe."  Molano described him as "far and away one of the best psychiatrists I ever dealt with."

The shooter began his day like most other days, according to a convenience store owner that told reporters Hasan frequented his store many mornings, purchasing his usual coffee and hash browns.  Surveillance footage from the store's camera the morning of the shootings shows a relaxed and smiling Hasan conversing with a clerk six hours before murdering 12 soldiers at Ft. Hood, Texas.

What's behind the murders?  What could cause, what a former neighbor described as a "cool, calm, religious" man, to do such a terrible thing?  My mind ran rampant with conspiracy theories.  Terrorism?  Drugs?  Prozac withdrawal?  What?!?!

It seems the world is going crazy.  My heart aches for the families....

Friday, October 30, 2009

This drunk is a public menace. Get him off the road!

A chronic drunkard that caused a car wreck killing a young mother is apparently off the wagon and back on the streets, menacing good people again.

Over 12 years' time, Robert Van Dyke has been arrested seven times on DUI charges and only convicted three times.  His last drunken trip down the road (well, the last time he was caught anyway) caused a collision that  killed Michelle Bradley, a 36-year-old mother of two from West Valley. One daughter also in the car survived but lost an eye.  Bradley's pregnant sister-in-law was also injured in that fatal crash.  Bobby Van Dyke spent just six years in the Utah big house for his role in killing Michelle - his sentence was 20 years.

Van Dyke's story is one of a serial drunk that somehow continues to get out on our roads, and like any numbers game, it's just a matter of time until another unfortunate victim has their number pulled while Bobby's behind the wheel.

In late September Spanish Fork police stopped Bobby and booked him on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, according to a report on   A police spokesman reported that Van Dyke smelled of alcohol, had slurred speech and exhibited other signs of intoxication, but refused breathalyzer and sobriety tests.

Are you as outraged as I am about this?  How do losers that repeatedly prove that they have no regard for other people get sixth and seventh chances to go out and hurt someone again?  Prosecutors claim that it's a tough process to convict guys like Van Dyke.

Make your feelings known!  Jeff Buhman is the Utah County Attorney.  His office states they intend to vigorously pursue felony charges against Van Dyke in his latest drunk driving.  Send them your opinion and your support.  Let's get this menace out of our way and make sure he stays where he belongs and where we can be sure we'll all be safe from him - behind bars.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Get life-saving text messages

We live in a communication age.  Mobile computing, text messaging and the Internet allow us to send and receive messages and information at the push of a button.

Utah Valley University has launched a text messaging system for students and staff that provides instant notification of important information that affects people's lives.  Think Virgina Tech.  Think Columbine High.  Both were events on a large campus that ended with lives lost while the rest of the population on those campuses struggled to understand what was happening.

We live in an age where anything can happen in the blink of an eye.  Think World Trade Center on 9/11.  What could be the power of text messaging be as a means of minimizing the damage from terrorist attacks?  When people know what's going on they can then make informed choices that can result in better outcomes.

A few weeks ago, a white powder was discovered in the ROTC offices in the Woodbury Business Building (WB) on the UVU campus.  Anthrax?  Poison?  People were scared.   Everyone errs on the side of caution in these types of incidents and the WB was evacuated until hours later experts declared the substance to be benign.

The text messaging system was employed to keep the campus updated on what was going on.  The information quelled panic while allowing those that received the news to decide whether they wanted to leave campus.

Getting signed up to receive instant text messages regarding important happenings at UVU is so easy.  We just don't know what can happen at any minute, but by being available to news via text messaging from those in the know, we can be sure to stay in the loop, guaranteeing that we know what we must know to stay safe.