Archive for August, 2013

Anyone seen my shoe? (column)

Thursday, August 29th, 2013
Kevin Doonan

There are some things in life I just do not understand. One of the great mysteries in my life is how does someone lose a shoe? I see discarded shoes alongside the road all the time while I am driving. It really is a bizarre and commonplace sight for me … and I just don’t get it.

It’s always just one shoe at a time – never pairs of shoes – and I can never imagine a logical situation in which someone would lose a single shoe alongside the road, or really anywhere for that matter, but especially on the shoulder of a road in the middle of rural upstate New York. What was that person doing and how could they possibly have not noticed such an important article of clothing was no longer attached to their body? It is not like I’m talking about a scarf or anything that could just blow away. Maybe someone was driving along with their foot out the window, a gust of wind knocked their shoe off, and they were like … to hell with it, I’ve gone too far now and there’s a Payless up ahead. Or maybe someone was hitchhiking and they got picked up by a serial killer who always leaves a shoe behind as a statement. I don’t know.

I was driving to work the other day and I saw a sandal in the middle of Norwich’s main street. It left me wondering, did someone lose it while they were crossing the street and just didn’t notice they were missing a shoe. It’s not like North Main Street is a freeway or anything, they could have gone back and gotten it. Maybe some people just carry a spare set of footwear with them wherever they go and when a sandal falls out of their pocket they just don’t notice. I mean, what kind of excursion are people on which only requires one shoe? Unless that person only has one foot, which of course makes perfect sense. But even so, why bring the extra shoe along in the first place if the plan is just to throw it into the street.

We all lose things in life. In many ways, life is all about loss since every facet of it truly is transitory. It’s definitely a prevalent theme. I haven’t been around all that long, but even so, I have still lost many things over the years. From things as superficial as a raincoat in kindergarten (man my ma was sore with me for that one), to people and loved ones, like a beloved dog and all of my grandparents. And while some of those examples are far more serious in nature, the sense of loss was there for all of them … to varying degrees, of course. I handled each loss in a different way (the raincoat I lied through my teeth about, but mothers always know). With my dog, I kind of just ignored it and went on with my life … what could I do. But it haunted me for a time, for years I frequently had reoccurring dreams about her. Losing her changed me. Now when I am petting my current dogs I incessantly think about how their time on this Earth is limited. Figuring out how best to handle loss is not something I have mastered. I’ve broken up with girls and then pine for them for years. I guess coming to terms with the fact that everything ends is just something we all have to do soon or a later.

Still, I wonder if those unfortunate souls who lose a shoe in traffic experience the five stages of grief when faced with the debilitating and enigmatic absence of a lone piece of footwear. I imagine it goes something like this … 1) Denial: “It can’t be gone! It’s here somewhere I know it!” 2) Anger: “Who is responsible for this!?” 3) Bargaining: “Please, dear Lord, return my shoe.” 4) Depression: “Without my shoe, I can’t go on.” 5) Acceptance: “I have come to terms with my loss … and bought a new pair of shoes.”

A lot of things in life though are not so easily replaced, like grandparents for instance, so maybe losing a shoe is actually a good place to start learning an important life lesson by experiencing loss and testing our mettle.

Something is seriously wrong…

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013
Ashley Biviano

Bradley Manning was sentenced Wednesday to 35 years in prison for letting the public and the press know about illegal actions taken by the United States government. Technically he was found guilty on multiple counts of violating the Espionage Act (among other charges), and his actions allegedly caused a threat to national security.

I say that’s bogus.

In Chenango County, it is not uncommon for a sex offender to receive a split sentence of six months in the Chenango County Correctional Facility and five years probation. A sex offender. This could be a man who molested a child and ruined said child’s life forever. Alternately it could be an adult who forced himself (or herself) upon another adult who in turn reported the rape. Regardless, lives in these situations have been forever altered. Clear victim, one that may very well never be able to be whole again.

The sex offender will have his/her name on a list, and address made public – only if the designation is a level 2 or 3 (check the sex offender registry online and see who is near you, folks). Said individual won’t be allowed to have residence near a school.

But at the end of the day, the rapist essentially walks.

I’ve gone into greater detail before with the above issue, so for the sake of brevity, I won’t do that now.

My point is, 25-year-old Manning is going to prison for telling the truth.

No, I don’t know what it’s like first hand to be in the military, let alone the military during a time of war; a war on terror that is unnecessarily cutting lives short daily. Be it an American soldier or civilian, an Afghan mother, an Iraqi teen, a father and Imam, a militant … I don’t know, you name it … to me, a life is a life. Murder? No good. I don’t care if it’s in the name of combating “terror” or if it’s an average Joe who is not happy with his home life.

Now could Manning’s actions have potentially caused the untimely death of Americans? If that’s what you want to roll with, go ahead. I’m not here to judge or berate anyone for where they stand on the Manning situation.

I guess my point is that I have no hope or faith, whatsoever, in the “justice system.” Molest a child, serve half a year – maybe a whole year – behind bars. The DA in your area will offer a plea most likely, you’ll take it, do whatever you have to do, and may very well be victimizing again in no time. Sexually assault someone in the military, get a promotion (if you haven’t seen “The Invisible War” yet, watch it). But provide documents to the press and the public about how the government is really acting … spend years behind bars and be deemed a traitor.

Makes perfect sense, right?

I would like to thank Mr. Manning for shedding some light. I would like to give him a hug – and if you know me at all, I don’t hug.

A campaign was started online where folks could sign up to state they stand with Manning and would serve part of his sentence, as a message of solidarity. I was signer 2,937.

“In 1969 when I was a 21-year-old Army PFC, I publicly refused orders to Vietnam, I was court martialed, convicted of two counts of refusing the same order, and sentenced to 10 years in prison and a Dishonorable Discharge. I escaped to Sweden and never served a day in jail. Bradley Manning has already suffered way too much for having the courage to do the right thing. He should serve no time in prison. But I would gladly serve a good part of his sentence,” wrote a recent signer to the campaign.

You know what doesn’t fly with me? “I was just following orders.” … That doesn’t go over well in my book. If your orders are to shoot a stranger – a human being you have never ever met, a human with a soul and aspirations and a family – and you’re doing so without question, I have an issue with that.

What I don’t have an issue with is Manning’s actions.

According to media reports, Director of the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project Ben Wizner said, “When a soldier who shared information with the press and public is punished far more harshly than others who tortured prisoners and killed civilians, something is seriously wrong with our justice system.”

I agree, Mr. Wizner.

Something is seriously wrong.

Free Bradley Manning.

Letter From the Editor: 8/21/13

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013
Brian Golden

Yes, it is I, your fearless (well … sometimes) Managing Editor. And no, I didn’t forget how to blog. In fact, I’ve had this nagging little voice in the back of my head for some time, which I believe to be that of our former editor, whispering something like, “Yes, Brian, we do blog more than once a month here at The Evening Sun, let alone once every four months. I used to blog every day if I remember right.”

My only excuse? Well, there’s been a lot for me to learn here at The Ivory Tower on Lackawanna Ave. (to borrow one of Jeff’s terms), and my number one priority has always been the paper itself first and foremost. That being said, your next question might very well be, “Brian, why the hell are you blogging at 4 a.m. on a Wednesday?”

That, I’m afraid, I can thank my neighbors for. Apparently, when you’re young and don’t work for a living, it’s completely acceptable to bang, smash, party, scream, yell, curse, fight and get ridiculously violent – on both Monday and Tuesday of this week, I might add – until the wee hours of the morning. I’ve had very little sleep, needless to say, and I had a nice discussion with one of Norwich’s finest on my way to the office in the pitch dark this morning (at 3:45 a.m. to be exact). Not that I think those ruffians living next door to my tiny apartment visit our website daily (evesun.com for those of you who don’t remember), let alone read, but if one would like to warn them, please let them know the next time I hear that particular brand of nonsense on a weekday, the authorities will be notified … immediately.

That being said, come Friday and/or Saturday, I could care less, as this summer my travels have taken me far and wide on the weekends, much to the dismay of the ‘30 Seconds’ crowd, who seem to think I should throw a cot in the corner, shower in the parking lot when it rains and live on Hot Pockets warmed through in our office kitchen so as to be on duty – updating all things ‘30 Seconds’ – 24 hours a day.

That’s not going to happen.

On a brighter note, I had myself one helluva Blues Fest, thanks (once again) to the efforts of the Chenango Blues Association. As always, I was impressed with the line-up (top notch), the set-up (also top notch) and the crowd. That many people crammed into that kind of space and you’d think there would be some major issues. Our local blues association, however, has things firmly in hand (and have for more than two decades now), and I had an absolute blast. Also a quick shout out to my pal Jess Novak, who accompanied me to this year’s fest. Jess, a music writer in the Syracuse area (I believe her own review of our local blues fest will appear in this week’s Syracuse New Times, which will hit shelves today), is also a talented songwriter and musician, and I was lucky enough to share the stage with her not once, not twice, but three times last weekend (with the fest sandwiched in between).

Thanks for the company, Novak, and remember: only two good things in life, “You ain’t no C. Johnson,” zombie cats, and those letters to the aforementioned (and hopefully non-zombified) felines all equal some good times, with great friends, and some serious laughter.

See you all soon … and not at 4 a.m. … I hope …

Dust off the keyboard, it’s time to blog

Friday, August 16th, 2013
Shawn Magrath

I’ll admit, I’ve been pretty lazy about this blogging gig lately. Let’s see if I remember how to do this…

Chenango County Blues Fest begins Friday night at the county fairgrounds. Even if blues isn’t really your thing, the annual music festival – with a total nine performance and more than 30 vendors this year – promises to be a great way to spend a lazy Saturday afternoon. A fun day at Blues Fest… sounds like an oxymoron.

There’s been a lot of hubbub from Oxford residents regarding the recent events that transpired at a Village Board meeting. Irrespective of the issue on the table, I think it’s really a shame when composure is trumped by emotion. But then again, I’ve attended enough public meetings to understand how these things go. My friend’s mother use to say “You can dress him up, but you can’t take him out.” Same applies, I guess.

I saw on the evening news this week the story of a boy named Caine who, using empty boxes in his dad’s auto parts store, built games for his own arcade. Though Caine’s arcade got off to a slow start – much like the lemonade stands and snow-shoveling businesses of so many kids – it picked up steam when a blogger wrote about the his imaginative use for empty boxes. Since then, the 11-year-old entrepreneur has lectured at the University of Southern California Business School, traveled the world, and been hailed a child prodigy of sorts by Forbes Magazine which predicted Caine will be a billionaire in 30 years. His arcade has gained worldwide recognition, with a devoted customer base that’s earned him over $235,000… to use for college, of course. My take? Well, not to sound like a scrooge of all things innovative, but all this because the kid has an imagination? Don’t get me wrong, I’m a proponent of creativity and thrilled that Caine has done so well; but I find that the irony here is almost too much to bear. My Grandmother’s generation made toys from paper clips and bottle caps (like little MacGyvers of the Fisher-Price world). Nowadays, the cardboard games and toys created of a boy’s own cognition are worth $235,000. Who knew.

Protecting and serving each other.

Monday, August 12th, 2013
Ashley Biviano

Uh oh, someone broke into your car over night and took your iPod and whatever loose change you had lying around. Maybe next time you’ll lock your car, or keep anything of value out of sight. I hear that things like this are happening all around Norwich, and I’ve read complaints via social networking sites that law enforcement officials haven’t been all that helpful. Hours after the fact, there isn’t a whole lot that can be done without the use of quite a few resources. A possible solution or deterrent for this? Maybe you want to install a couple cameras near your garage, facing your car. Maybe put a camera inside your vehicle. It’s also a good idea to notify your neighbors of what’s been going on, so that they can be aware and take the necessary measures so that similar things don’t happen to them.

You can certainly call the police department and let them know that an individual got into your unlocked vehicle and helped themselves to the $4.77 in your cup-holder, but I will not say that anything will come out of it that will help you out.

What you can do though, is take measures to protect and serve each other. Become an active member of your community.

Now with some of the examples that follow, many will say, “None of that happens around here, why should I care?” … That’s why I stated the situation above, something that is happening locally many people are peeved about – and a possible solution: keeping an eye out on each other.

The Peaceful Streets Project is an all-volunteer, grassroots effort with the goal of uniting members of a community to end institutional violence on the streets, regardless of where you live.

In our community we don’t see much direct police brutality; at least not documented and placed in the lime light. But I’m willing to bet a lot of you have stories; some stories that have gone unreported because, who do you report police misconduct to? The police. Who internally investigates the matter? The police.

The vision of the Peaceful Streets Project is to reach “a society free of state-sponsored institutionalized violence.” This shall be done by way of community organizing, engagement in non-political and non-violent direct action tactics. The goal is for individuals to know and understand their rights. Communities would ultimately be able to protect and serve each other.

Antonio Buehler developed the Peaceful Streets Project after his arrest on New Year’s Eve of 2012 for videotaping the police using excessive force against a female in Austin, Texas. Buehler has since become rather active in the sharing of ideas regarding police accountability and documenting interactions with officers.

The project offers training sessions on knowing one’s rights during police encounters and how to safely and responsibly document interactions, as well as an arena where those who have been victims of police abuse can go on record with their experiences. There are also “cop-watching” outfits, where groups peacefully video police activity to assist those who may be victim to police misconduct.

Bear in mind, these aren’t crazy people running up onto crime scenes videotaping like maniacs. Per rule number two in the code of conduct, “PSP participants shall make every necessary effort to not interfere with law enforcement officials while they are carrying out their official duties.”

…Cameras zoom in, folks. Police officers are armed. They’re not afraid to use their weapons. Use common sense.

The Peaceful Streets Project is hosting its second annual Police Accountability Summit this Saturday in Austin, Texas at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center on the University of Texas campus in Austin. Admission is free and the speakers are sure to provide outstanding and informative discussion for concerned citizens, police abuse survivors, advocates of liberty, and police accountability activists from around the nation.

Before I continue with details on the summit, here are some things that have taken place around the nation lately, that many folks may not be aware of:

Police in Hawthorne, California unlawfully arrested a man who was videotaping a raid he had witnessed. There were others videotaping as well. The man had his dog with him, Max. When he had an inkling he was going to get arrested, he placed Max into his vehicle, and two officers approached, arresting him shortly thereafter. While being cuffed by Hawthorne PD employees, Max jumped out of the vehicle and a third officer approached, drew his weapon, and opened fire. Many times. Many, many times. Watch the video if you haven’t (use discretion, it is insanely disturbing). Max was barking. If an officer is threatened for his life by a barking dog… come on. So sad. And unnecessary.

In July of this year a NYPD officer was arrested and charged with attempted rape, unlawfully dealing with a child, endangering the welfare of a child and sexual abuse, according to media reports, after allegedly providing alcohol to a 16-year-old acquaintance and later sexually assaulting her. He has been suspended without pay (which is uncommon – it’s actually pretty uncommon for charges to be filed in situations such as these) and was released on $1,500 bail.

In 2010 in Albuquerque, a man was arrested for serving food without a permit, disobeying a police officer and trespassing. He was providing food for the homeless. According to reports the charge for operating without a permit was dropped, as there is no law stating you cannon feed the hungry if it is not for profit. The other two charges were later dismissed as well. The man sued the city, who opted to settle rather than follow through with proceedings, and the man received $45,000. He continues to feed the homeless every Sunday.

Not only one small deer, but now two, have been killed by authorities, according to media reports. Giggles was a baby fawn who was at a no-kill shelter and was scheduled to be taken to a wildlife reserve the following day. Instead, Department of Natural Resources officers came in heavily armed, removed and killed the deer. All because the shelter didn’t pay for a permit. … Insanity.

According to media reports and a security video, a 14 year-old mentally ill girl was being escorted down a hallway at the Citrus Health System treatment center for mentally ill adolescents in Pembroke Pines, Florida when a police officer reaches and grabs the female. She responds with a swat at the officer who then opts to punch her – fist closed – in the face, snapping her head back. Other officers join in the on the fiasco, and spray her with mace once she is down. She is 14. They charged her with resisting arrest. They are violent men terrorizing a mentally ill adolescent who was at the facility for help. I wonder if they’re proud of themselves when they go home.

Anyway, I could go on forever citing cases of police misconduct. It doesn’t have to be rape, killing of animals, or beatings. It could be unlawful arrests, illegal searches, harassment, or any other abuse of power committed by one who is in place to “protect and serve.”

With a little bit of education and motivation, it seems as though communities would be well equipped to protect and serve each other. Technology is a wonderful thing, and can be used to your advantage during interactions.

The summit in Austin has a terrific lineup of speakers and entertainers.

The keynote speaker is Bobby Seale, the co-founder of the Black Panther Party and a long-time police accountability activist. Seale will speak about how a camera is a more powerful tool now as a weapon against police abuse than the rifles were the Black Panther Party often used when cop-watching in their communities in the past.

Radley Balko, author of “Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Force” will deliver a second keynote speech. –By the way, go purchase that book and read it, folks.

Jacob Crawford of Wecopwatch.org, Carlos Miller of Photographyisnotacrime.com, Pete Eyre of Copblock.org will also speak at the summit, and are expected to share very important and informative ideas.

Buehler and John Bush (co-founder of the Peaceful Streets Project) will offer speeches as well.

B.Dolan will provide entertainment at the summit. He is a hip-hop and spoken word artist signed to Strange Famous Records who dug into activism when co-founding knowmore.org with fellow artist Sage Francis. I’ve personally seen them both live – more than once – , and B.Dolan doesn’t disappoint. Check out his “Film the Police.”

Tatiana Moroz will perform a song she wrote for the Peaceful Streets Project.

A victims panel is slated on the schedule as well as a discussion on reigning in the police through legislation. Free food and child care will also be provided at the event.

The 2nd Annual Peaceful Streets Project Police Accountability Summit is sure to be one for the books. While I can’t make it in person, those speaking and the individuals in attendance have my support, wholeheartedly.

Even though it may seem like things are A-okay here in Chenango County, take a good look around – look beyond your immediate surroundings. Just because you don’t see a police officer beating innocent women on our streets does that mean it doesn’t happen? No. Rather than turn a blind eye, I feel it’s best to become informed and share ideas regarding misconduct. If you don’t know what it looks like, you don’t know how to handle it.

If by chance you’re in the Texas area, I’d urge you to attend. Again, it’s free. You’ll learn a lot. If you can’t attend, you can always donate to the cause. I did. Gladly.

I think we’d could all benefit by helping each other out with things like this. When we know our rights, remain peaceful but diligent, and keep an eye out on one another, things can only improve.

You can learn more or help out by visiting Peacefulstreets.com.

Saturday at the PGA Championship

Monday, August 12th, 2013
Patrick Newell

Thank you to Stacy Gage, who had an extra ticket to the PGA Championship for Saturday’s round at Oak Hill Country Club. Kids were admitted free, so Stacy and his son Alex invited me and my stepson Joseph to come along for the ride.
It was the first major golf championship I attended, and the “rare” sporting event in which I was not working as a reporter. Honestly, I felt a little naked without my notepad and camera, but it was worth the trip. For those who watched the tournament this weekend, if the total sum of your golf viewing experiences has been spent in front of your television, then you’re not coming close to getting the complete picture.
Just imagine yourself striking the ball as well as you can hit it. Okay? Picture its trajectory, its distance, then its accuracy. The ball follows its intended target, and reaches its intended destination. You feel pretty good inside as that experience happens maybe once or twice a round – if you’re lucky!
For the typical PGA golfer – especially those competing in the fourth major championship of the year – that “perfect” shot for us is the norm for them. Our little foursome had the opportunity to watch some professional golfers hit balls from the practice facility before their respective rounds. One ball after another was pounded perfectly, and depending on the club selection, each shot ended a few feet apart at almost the same distance. I was reminded over the weekend: This is their job, and the professional golfer puts in eight-hour days on the golf course as we do at our designated jobs. Considering that – and as much as I love my job – playing golf for a living would not break my heart.
Near the end of the day, we perched ourselves in the amphitheater on the 13th hole (see link below) where thousands of people lined the banks to create an electric atmosphere oohing and ahhing with every putt. A Saturday afternoon at a major championship under perfect weather conditions…it just doesn’t get any better than that.

Link: http://www.twitpic.com/d7zl2m

Follow me on Twitter @evesunpat.

Member-Guest begins with a splash

Friday, August 2nd, 2013
Patrick Newell

Morning round participants at the Canasawacta Country Club Men’s Member-Guest tournament – yours truly included – completed their opening 18 holes under a steady rainfall. No, it never quite reached downpour status, but it was a steady drizzle that had rain gear flying out of players’ bags. As for me, I decided to forgo riding in the paid-for golf cart to avoid the misty pelts of water that soak driver and passenger en route to the next shot. Thanks to a tip from Bob Branham, I hung towels over the spokes (or whatever they are called) within my expanded umbrella, and dried my hands and clubs with dry towels before every shot. Plus, I could angle the umbrella down to avoid oncoming rain. My waterproof shoes proved they are NOT waterproof, but other than that, I stayed dry. Sixty of the 98 teams trudged through the morning round, and nearly a dozen were at level or under par. Seems like we have some good mudders in the field. Leading the way after 18 holes – no surprise – are back-to-back champions Tim Carson and Scott Seiler. Seiler’s younger brother – Todd – along with Bryan Smith share the lead with Carson-Seiler after firing matching 66s. Stay tuned for more tournament coverage this weekend, and follow me on Twitter @evesunpat.