Archive for September, 2006

No longer America

Friday, September 29th, 2006
Tyler Murphy

A few days ago a report was released by National Intelligence Agency. The report is an official estimate of the level of success generated by the government’s current efforts to halt terrorism. It had mixed findings, but overall it was a blow to the administration. Basically some things are a little better and some things are a lot worse. Since Bush has taken office, we have sacrificed more rights in the last decade than any other in United States history. The United States of America now believes in the following ideals: Torturing a human being is acceptable to a a point, holding one indefinitely without trial, opening mail, tapping phone conversations and censorship of the press. The only stipulation being you must be a terrorist or a national security threat in order to be treated as such. Currently there is no official requirements or definition of what eligibility for such status would be. We are all eligible and the only part of discretion is in the hands of secret police agencies (CIA, NSA, FBI, etc.) If one is found to be classified as such, you will never have be notified as to why or for what. Despite our efforts and sacrifices, not many people and now not even the government would argue we are becoming safer. The only argument one could make is that our threats come from different sources than they did five years ago. We are becoming or have become a police state. Benjamin Franklin once said, “They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security.” I wonder what he might say about those who give up liberty for nothing.
I have more respect for our founding fathers than perhaps for any other human beings in history. The declaration of independence is one of the greatest works ever written by man and I would die for any of the ideals held with in that document. I am impressed still today by the truth of their words uttered over 300 years ago and further impressed that the American public fails so poorly to understand the notions their freedom is founded upon. This judgment I draw based on the condition of our current government and its positions implied by it both morally and politically. Refuse as we might it is our responsibility to monitor our government and actively participate in it for the better of all man kind. In our modern world of globalization we can no longer ordain the moralities of America only serve Americans. Either what we hold to be good and true is actually good and true for all people or we are no better than any other society on this planet. Hope started in America and in America it still lives, we have the greatest opportunity the world has ever been given, pray we do not fail it.
A few quotes
“I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.” – Thomas Jefferson
“I have recently been examining all the known superstitions of the world, and do not find in our particular superstition (Christianity) one redeeming feature. They are all alike founded on fables and mythology.” -Thomas Jefferson.
“As Mankind becomes more liberal, they will be more apt to allow that all those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the community are equally entitled to the protections of civil government. I hope ever to see America among the foremost nations of justice and liberality.” – George Washington
“The World is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion.” Thomas Paine
“Time makes more converts than reason.” – Thomas Paine

The first lady’s visit

Thursday, September 28th, 2006
Jessica Lewis

Tuesday afternoon, approximately 300 people filled The Crystal Ballroom at The Hotel Utica. I sat in the quarantined press area in the back of the room with a crowd of television and newspaper reporters and watched as waiters deftly maneuvered through the crowd, serving hors d’oeuvres to the anxious ticket holders. The event, a campaign fundraiser for congressional candidate Ray Meier, normally wouldn’t warrant such extensive press coverage, but this fund raiser was special. That’s because endorsing Meier at this event was first lady, Laura Bush.

It was a unique experience for me from the very beginning. Of course we first had to fax over all of my information for a background check. You’ll be happy to know nothing turned up. When I arrived at the hotel, I was told everyone needed to stay in the entrance area while security did a sweep. We were then directed to check in and taken to the press area. Once there, we were unable to leave with out being escorted by a member of The White House staff.

It all seemed like something out of a movie, especially once the secret service agents arrived. They stood feet away from us, clad in their dark suits with ear pieces dangling into their collars.
The event was a fund raiser, and tickets went for $150 a piece, so I knew that the crowd would be filled with people who really wanted to see the first lady, but the reactions of some crowd members were so exuberant, it was almost laughable.

Two members of the crowd stick out in my memory. A pair of teens were so full of excitement that they stood in the crowd bouncing up and down and practically squealing with delight. Personally, I don’t remember a time when I was ever that excited about politics as a teenager. It was funny to see such a reaction at a campaign fund raiser, but I guess it’s a good thing that in a time of extremely low voter turn out, some people can get excited about politics.

Of all the events I have covered over the past two months, this was one of the most interesting. I was glad I got to go, and thrilled that I didn’t accidentally cause any national incidents.

Wlasiuk’s amazing circus

Friday, September 22nd, 2006
Tyler Murphy

The formerly convicted wife murderer Peter Wlasiuk was given his innocence back to him by the 3rd division of the NYS Supreme Appellate court. Wlasiuk appeared in Chenango court earlier today followed by an entourage of tension. The small family court room was probably as full as it could get; a few of the victim’s relatives had to stand. The court room’s small dimensions ensured that both accused murderer Wlasiuk and the grieved family of his alleged victim would be in very close proximity. Wlasiuk seemed eager to appear in court.

Three Sheriff’s deputies walked Wlasiuk to the defense table – counting the regular bailiff as part of compliment, there was now a total of four armed guards in the court room and one outside the door watching the front desk. First impression made me feel he was quite the dangerous man, but after a moment I realized they were not just to protect us from him, but to protect Wlasiuk from a growing local animosity. Grieved family members both angry and depressed sat apprehensive in the front row or stood a few feet behind the defendant, nothing between them except four feet of air, a small wooden divide about three feet high and four vigilant sheriff’s deputies and their four nine millimeter pistols.

Wlasiuk briefly engaged the family, apparently he glanced or stared over in the direction of the family. “Stop looking at me and turn back around,” commanded a grieving family member. Wlasiuk promptly turned around and interrupted his attorney and asked the judge to remove the man who made the comment. Judge Sullivan struggled to keep the proceedings fluid; his first issue to bear was removing himself from the case. He adjourned the matter to consider. The family filed out and Wlasiuk argued with his attorney, saying, “I don’t even know what just happened.” They bickered a moment and he and his attorney retired to a private room and held further what appeared to be agitating conversation. This was a bail hearing, but none was addressed because of the request to remove Judge Sullivan. I have a feeling no matter who presides, prosecutes or defends, we will get quite the show from Wlasiuk and the circus which will undoubtedly surround him, and I must admit I will be a small part.

Insanity defense for babynapper?

Thursday, September 21st, 2006
Jessica Lewis

Lately, I have been obsessed with the story of the newborn baby who was kidnapped from her Missouri home. For anyone who missed this story, (where have you been?) Last week, a woman asking to use the phone, gained entry to the house where baby Abby lived, slashed the mother’s throat, and took the week old baby.

Yesterday, I read the news that the baby had been found. The suspect had reportedly given birth to a still born child the day of the abduction. Obviously this woman was in an extremely emotional state. I’m anxious to hear more news about this story. I want to know why the woman was released from the hospital so soon after giving birth. Did she check herself out against medical advice? If so why wasn’t someone notified? Why didn’t her husband or anyone in her family know she had given birth to a still born child? I don’t know what hospital policy would be in this situation. I know there are confidentiality issues, but it seems like someone should have known. The questions this story raises are endless.

Now I find myself wondering if the defense will use a temporary insanity defense. It seems like a very good possibility given the details leading up to the abduction, and I think in this instance it is appropriate. The actions this woman took are unforgivable, but the emotions of losing a child must be overwhelming. I know I’m going to be checking Court TV on a regular basis to hear about this one.

As a new mother, my heart went out to the mother of baby Abby and the rest of the family. I can’t imagine the horror and worry they must have gone through. I’m so glad this story had a happy ending.

School violence

Friday, September 15th, 2006
Jessica Lewis

School violence has been an area of concern for several years, but recent events are once again moving the topic to the front burner. How safe are our schools, and why are some kids so messed up?

In the headlines recently were two stories. The first was about a Canadian student who took three guns and went on a shooting rampage on a Montreal College Campus. The gunmen left one woman dead and 19 others wounded before taking his own life.

A second story told of a Columbine-like plot that was caught before it was too late. Police in Green Bay, WI took two seventeen year old boys into custody. They found stock piles of guns and said that the boys had learned how to make bombs on the internet.

With stories like these in the news, it is a scary time to be a parent, or a school aged child. I think that schools have taken several steps to become safer for our children, and the fact that the plot in WI was stopped is a sign of that. I guess the bigger question is what is causing children to behave this way. There have always been school bullies and outcasts among school populations. That will never change, so why are kids striking out in such violent ways? We need to address these issues before more tragedies occur.

House fire

Tuesday, September 12th, 2006
Jessica Lewis

Yesterday, I returned from my lunch break to hear a call go out over the police scanner . A house fire had been called in and since our police and fire reporter had to go to court, I would be covering it. I rushed to my car and by sheer luck, stumbled upon the scene of the fire.

Smoke lingered, rising from the holes where the windows used to be, and firemen were marching in and out of the house, but the fire was no longer burning. In the short time that it took me to travel the six miles out of town, the firemen had arrived on the scene and extinguished the blaze. I was impressed by the speed and efficiency with which they operated.

I also felt incredibly sad for the people residing in the house. Although no one was home at the time of the fire, and no injuries were inflicted, it is still a terrifying experience. The look on the face of the young woman arriving on the scene and seeing her smoldering home, was full of shock and heart ache. She informed me that this is the second fire she has encountered in a little over a year.

My heart goes out to her and her companion, and I hope they did not lose anything that they cannot replace, and that their luck takes a turn for the better.

Signing off from Colorscape ’06

Sunday, September 10th, 2006
Jeff Genung

Patty Larkin has just left the stage, bringing to a close Colorscape Chenango 2006. (She was great, but I’m still partial to The Kennedys, Pete & Maura, as my all-time Colorscape faves).

All in all, it was another successful weekend filled with all the sights and sounds that make this such a magical time of year. Reconnecting with old friends and sharing in the spirit of community which overtakes East and West parks in downtown Norwich is really what Colorscape’s all about, and this weekend had that in spades.

We at The Evening Sun had a fun time playing with new technology, bringing our web audience live updates of Frank Speziale’s photos, selected video clips of the performing artists and of course this rolling blog. It was our first foray, really, into using the website to expand our coverage beyond the printed page, and I dare say it was success. Hopefully it’s just a taste of things to come as we shift from thinking of ourselves as solely a newspaper publisher and more into being an information services provider. Many thanks to our “web guy” Craig Ballinger (and Allnet Networking, who provided the wifi Internet access) for making the technical end of things possible, and to my trusty staff, Melissa deCordova, Jill Osterhout, Jessica Lewis (and Benjamin!) and Tyler Murphy for manning the booth alongside yours truly. It was a fun weekend.

Now, what will we come up with for the Pumpkin Festival?

You should do a story about …

Sunday, September 10th, 2006
Jeff Genung

One of the joys of sitting at our Colorscape booth all weekend (besides the music, art and food, of course), is that the friendly folk of Norwich are always full of ideas for the paper.

So far I’ve been told we should do a story about how people ignore the handicapped parking rules (not unique to Colorscape weekend, but certainly more prevalent), about how the county maintenance crew dug up a high-traffic area of West Side Park days before Colorscape (brilliant planning), and about probably 20 different areas in the county where there’s a bad intersection, a section of road that still hasn’t been repaired since the June flood, or where traffic laws seemingly don’t exist (or at least aren’t enforced).

Sights and Sounds of Colorscape

Sunday, September 10th, 2006
Jessica Lewis

The sights and sounds of Colorscape are everywhere. This is my first time at Colorscape, and I’m amazed at the variety of things that are going on. If you haven’t seen the sights yet, come down.

The music is playing, only a few feet away. If I had to pick my favorite attraction, it would be the musicians. There is a wide variety of bands playing all kinds of music, and in The Evening Sun tent, we have a front row seat.

Crowds of people are milling around looking at the different exhibits. The art work is great. It’s amazing to see so much talent right here in Chenango County.
There’s still plenty of time, so come down and visit us, and enjoy the festivities. I’m always ready and willing to meet new people. I hope to see you soon.

Calling it a day …

Saturday, September 9th, 2006
Jeff Genung

The sun is just about ready to set on Day 1 of Colorscape 2006, and West Side Park is rockin’ with the sounds of … yodeling. If you’ve seen Gandalf Murphy and the Slambovian Circus of Dreams before, you’ll know that’s not nearly as torturous as it sounds. These guys are simply amazing, and a refreshing change of pace from the rest of the afternoon’s offerings.

It’s just about time to call it a day, and I’ve got to admit that my constant facade of pep is beginning to fade. It’s exhausting work being friendly all day … after eight hours of manning the Colorscape booth, I have a pretty good idea of what it must feel like to run for office. Speaking of which, the Democrats were out in full force today … I had a nice chat with Beth Garry, Mark Trabucco and Kelly Keck, candidates for Justice, Senate and Assembly. Nary a Republican candidate to be seen (at least at The Evening Sun booth). Hmmmm …

Kudos to all involved in pulling of what I’d say was a very successful 50% of Colorscape so far. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for tomorrow.