Yays and Nays

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Jul 272010
 
Authors: Collegian Editorial Board

Yay | to the CSU football team for getting three out-of-state commitments last weekend. Things may be turning up for the Rammies. National Championship, here we come.

Nay | to the Colorado Rockies last road trip, on which they lost nine of 11 games. We haven’t seen such a bad losing streak since, well, the Rams’ last football season.

Yay | to CSU being ranked among the top 50 chemistry departments by U.S. News and World Report. I guess we know who got the brains in the family.

Nay | to leaking of 91,000 pages of government documents about the struggles of the Afghanistan War. Just for reference, The American Heritage College Dictionary’s hardcover third edition is 1,630 pages. That is nearly 56 dictionaries full of “oops.”

Yay | to Chatroulette ridding the world –– or at least its site –– of flashers. Now nerds can continue their search for the elusive “hot chick” without fearing the ever-present genitalia monster.

Nay | to Tom Tancredo running on a third-party ticket for governor of Colorado. You know when the Tea Partiers plead for you to not join the race that you have literally no chance.

 Posted by at 4:37 pm

Things that make moving hellish

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Jul 272010
 
Authors: Johnny Hart

Let’s get real, people. Normally I tend to embellish the stories I tell you here.

By embellish I mean, flat out, I’m not cool enough to pull off some of the stuff mentioned in Top 5.

Like, no, I wouldn’t punch someone who was pissing me off at a baseball game. I’m too civilized for that … and I’m kind of a wuss.

And no, I didn’t use beer as a finger food for the Super Bowl. But I still maintain it works in principle.

This week, however, I’m letting you in on a sensitive time in my life. I’m moving.

Gasp.

Calm down. It’s just across town. I don’t leave forever until, hopefully, December.

Let me tell you though, moving is such a pain in my ass. Between finding storage, packing boxes and everything, I’m on the verge of a breakdown.

Hope my pain is amusing.

1. Wardrobes

So I don’t fancy myself a clothing collector, unlike those people out there who collect shoes or hats or whatever.

I mean, I usually wear the same set of five shirts and shorts, or jeans, over and over again.

If it smells clean (really if it doesn’t smell too awfully bad) I’ll wear it, stains and all.

So please tell me, how did I accumulate so much damn laundry? It’s sick. Like, at least like six trash bags full.

Get ready Goodwill. I’m coming.

2. Furniture

I’m not what you would call an athlete. Sometimes I’ll play the occasional game of beer pong, but I’m no Michael Jordan.

So when it comes to heavy lifting, it’s kind of embarrassing. Pit-stains galore. Like seriously, I didn’t think I could sweat that much.

Plus, how did we get that couch through the door? It always seems twice as hard to fit those through the second time around.

3. Boxes and tape

How do companies justify charging people $1 per box? Pizza companies use the same box material willy-nilly and that seems pretty cost affective.

And no place has boxes. All the cheap people, like me, scavenge them all up before the lazies, like me, can get there.

And tape. Friggin’ tape. I have so much tape. It’s like my brain goes blank when I try to figure out if I have tape at home or if I need to buy some.

And of course you buy it because you forget about the tape you had from the last time you moved.

Oh and that construction-paper-consistency packing tape holds about, oh, until someone puts any sort of pressure on the box. Awesome.

4. Cleaning

Again, not the tippy-top of cleanliness found here. I’m not a slob, just a man. Not that men can’t be clean or that women are somehow cleaner than men, but it’s a convenient excuse.

I guess it’s easier to clean, sort of, when you’re house is empty. But it’s gotta be squeaky clean. I just don’t even understand how that works.

Plus when you move stuff, there are spiders. Friggin’ spiders.

I. HATE. SPIDERS.

5. Moving in

So don’t get all wrapped up in the excitement of moving in to a new place. Yeah, it might be a refreshing change of scenery, but it’s like moving out in reverse.

Think about it. First thing, you clean. _Check. _

Then you move in the heavy stuff –– the furniture you have no idea how you got into your apartment. Check.

Then you deal with unpacking boxes. And let me tell you, used tape is just annoying. Check.

Finally, you unpack your clothing. And you never really throw any of that away or give it away to thrift stores. Because that concert T-shirt, the one with the wholes and bleach stains that fit a much healthier version of you, has character and sentimental value.

Just wait until next year, when we all do this terrible process again. Ugh.

Managing Editor Johnny Hart will be homeless for three weeks due to leasing issues. It’s good that the Internet can’t be contained by walls and ceiling. E-mail him with questions or offers of help at news@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 4:36 pm

County fairs teach students, get community involved

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Jul 272010
 
Authors: Robyn Scherer

This time of year, all across the country, counties are setting up for their annual fairs. Members of 4-H and FFA –– a national organization dedicated to agriculture education –– are readying their animals, vendors are moving in and the community members are gathering for a week of fun.

County fairs are a great opportunity for people to learn about agriculture. From the animals to the exhibits, fairs educate people and their families.

One of the biggest draws at county fairs are the animal exhibits. Students aged 8 to 21 raise almost all of the livestock, spending the entire summer preparing their animals.

Some critics of fairs think that these students simply raise animals for money. But if you take time to talk to any of them, you will soon find out that is not true.

Having an animal project allows young people to learn about responsibility and accountability. Many students pick out and pay for their own animals, along with the feed and equipment needed to raise them.

The students must take time each day to work with and learn about the animals so they can show them the best they can during fair. The animals have names and are spoiled by the students who raise them.

The students are required by their chapters to keep record books, which track the expenses and revenues of the project. This teaches them to keep financial records, so they can determine at the end if they made a profit or not.

When it comes time to go to fair, the students must take even more care of the animals, since they are not at home, plus grooming and showing. They must make sure the animals are clean and comfortable, so members of the community can see the hard work they have done.

The experience of raising livestock for fair is about so much more than the money, and students who have raised animals learn valuable life lessons.

Raising an animal that is not a pet allows students to learn about production agriculture and everything involved in the process.

But many children, especially those raised in urban areas, will never get this opportunity. Going to the fair can fill this void, whether you are 5 or 50.

When attending the fair, make sure to check out all of the different species, from the goats to the rabbits. Feel free to ask the students about their projects, as most love to talk about it.

There are many other things to see at the county fair that helps connect you to agriculture. Community members submit entries for home grown vegetables, jams, homemade clothing and other projects.

For CSU students, there are opportunities outside of the local county fair to learn about raising animals.

Each fall, members of the Block and Bridle club put on Little National Western, where students learn to show pigs, sheep, beef cows or dairy cows. All instruction and equipment is provided for a small entry fee, and students from all backgrounds can learn how to show an animal they may have never had the opportunity to do before.

Seek out these opportunities and support your local county fair. It provides a lot of opportunities for students to learn and grow and a chance for you to learn about agriculture.

Robyn Scherer is a graduate student pursuing a master’s degree in integrated resource management. Her column will appear periodically throughout the summer. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 4:32 pm

Support your local drive-in

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Jul 272010
 
Authors: Collegian Editorial Board

Nestled against the Fort Collins foothills, in the shadow of Horsetooth Reservoir and that big Aggie “A,” sits the Holiday Twin Theatre.

However, Holiday Twin isn’t a normal, air-conditioned, cookie-cutter theater; it’s one of a dying breed –– the drive-in.

You see, in the 1950s there were more than 4,000 drive-in theaters across the United States. These parking lots-turned-cinema adventures symbolize the American way of life –– the apple pie, muscle car, sock-hop, prosperous times.

Nowadays American culture is symbolized with double cheeseburgers, gas-guzzling SUVs and an endless stream of crap 24-hour news network TV. And the apple pie, well they sell those for a buck in something that resembles a deflated Hot Pocket.

But us Choice City residents are lucky. We can hearken back to those simpler days because we have a Holiday Twin.

We’re lucky because Fort Collins has one of the eight remaining Colorado drive-in theaters. In fact, the U.S. boasts now just more than 400 drive-in theaters.

Our past is quickly slipping away. If we don’t latch on to what we have left, we’re going to get stuck in the present, which looks like a bastardized version of the good life.

So pack up a blanket, some pillows, lawn chairs, whatever you need, and check out a drive-in.
Trust us, it’s a slice of American pie that always goes down smoothly.

 Posted by at 4:30 pm

Poor security, lack of government challenge Kandahar

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Jul 272010
 
Authors: Dion Nissenbaum –– McClatchy Newspapers

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan _ As American forces step up their campaign to oust the Taliban from Kandahar, Western strategists are growing frustrated that Kabul hasn’t given them the support they need to persuade skeptical Afghans to back their government.

Despite persistent prodding from Western leaders, Afghan officials haven’t filled scores of government posts. Development projects have been slowed by persistent security problems and land disputes, and Western strategists are pushing for results amid growing international discontent with the uncertain direction in the 9-year-old-war.

Afghan officials say their efforts have been stymied by a Taliban assassination campaign that has made it almost impossible to recruit people to work in Kandahar, the country’s largest city and the heartland of the Taliban.

Until NATO forces can assure Kandahar residents that they’re safe, Afghan officials said, they face a daunting challenge in persuading people to join the Kandahar government.

The challenge facing Army Gen. David Petraeus, the newly named commander of international forces in Afghanistan, is how to establish pockets of security in Kandahar where Afghan leaders can step in quickly and take charge.

“Part of the problem here is that there’s a big disconnect between Kabul and the province,” said one top Western strategist based in Kandahar who asked not to be identified so he could speak more candidly about the pace of progress. “They have been slow. Everybody knows that they’ve been slow in providing support.”

Western leaders have long emphasized that the pivotal push in Kandahar this summer is more about transforming the government than routing Taliban fighters.

While the provincial governor has been slowly adding key staff, Afghan officials said the Kandahar mayor has only half the people he needs. Offers of higher pay are doing little to entice qualified Afghans to risk their lives to work in Kandahar.

In the first six months of this year, according to recent numbers, Taliban assassins killed an average of one pro-government Afghan a day.

In that time, insurgent assassins across the country killed at least 175 people with links to the Afghan government, according to the Afghanistan NGO Safety Office, which analyzes security data for aid groups.

Among those killed in recent weeks was the district governor of Arghandab, who was hit by a car bomb while he was driving through downtown Kandahar city.

“If we pay good salaries, if we find people, we will not be able to protect them,” said Sibghatullah Khan, one of the Karzai government officials spearheading the civilian push to gain control of Kandahar. “We can’t ask them to stay in police or military barracks.”

In one recent recruiting push, the government got four applicants for 114 jobs in Kandahar, said Khan. After pleading with local elders for help — and assuring applicants that they wouldn’t immediately be sent out to the dangerous districts — they were able to fill about a third of 80 key posts across Kandahar, Khan said.

The halting progress isn’t coming fast enough for NATO generals under pressure at home to establish some demonstrable progress by year’s end.

“I’m not surprised you get a sense of frustration down there (at the civilian reconstruction headquarters in Kandahar), you get a sense of frustration from me as well,” said British Maj. Gen. Nick Carter, the commander of coalition forces in southern Afghanistan. “What we need to do is encourage decent, qualified people to come and work down here.”

The U.S. military is now making a concerted push to derail the Taliban assassination campaign.

As part of the “rising tide of security,” U.S. soldiers have established a new ring of checkpoints around Kandahar city and military police have launched a new effort to train Afghan police best known for taking checkpoint bribes.

Afghan and American forces also have launched a new battle to drive hard-core Taliban fighters out of the Arghandab valley, where modest U.S.-backed development projects have helped establish beachheads of pro-Western allies in the fertile region north of Kandahar.

As U.S.-led forces increase their hold on the province, Taliban insurgents retain a grip on key Kandahar neighborhoods that bump up against new U.S. military bases.

On a recent afternoon, a local shopkeeper chipped chunks off a swiftly melting block of ice at his produce stand within sight of a joint U.S.-Afghan base that was hit earlier this month in a Taliban attack that killed nine people, including three U.S. soldiers.

The U.S.-Afghan base sits on the edge of a valley where neighbors said the Taliban routinely set up snap checkpoints within eyesight of hilltop Afghan check post.

“We are caught in the crossfire,” Abbas said as he weighed ice for antsy children. “Since they’ve arrived, security has gotten worse.”

Military leaders acknowledge that the battles could get even worse. However, they’re aiming to provide enough security so that the Afghan government can offer a credible alternative to Taliban rule.

One centerpiece is supposed to be a campaign to bring more reliable electric power to Kandahar. With Taliban fighters thwarting attempts to improve a key dam project, strategists are turning to temporary generators in an attempt to show Kandahar residents that the government can deliver results.

Quickly setting up a new government in neighboring Helmand province proved to be a major drag on progress in Marjah, the poppy growing region long controlled by the Taliban.

While coalition leaders boasted about plans to bring in a “government-in-a-box” that could swiftly establish control in Marjah after U.S.-led coalition forces and Afghan fighters seized control of the area.

After months of faltering progress, Afghan leaders recently removed Marjah’s first district governor, Haji Zahir.

His removal was a belated recognition that Zahir, who was reported to have served time in a German prison after stabbing his stepson, was the wrong man for the job.

“He was a perfectly intelligent bloke, but I’m not sure he had the leadership to bind the place together,” Carter said. “And, of course, what we needed was a team around him making people think the government was present.”

One lesson that Western strategists learned from the failings in Helmand wasn’t to create elevated expectations of speedy progress — and not to expect too much from Karzai.

“We’ve learned not to use the term ‘government-in-a-box,’ for starters,” said a second senior Western official based in Kandahar who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the program more openly.

“We’re dealing with a state that was a failed state up until 2001 and one of the dynamics of a failed state is the government doesn’t work very well,” he said. “It’s still a tenuous relationship between the national level and the provincial level.”

 Posted by at 2:47 pm

BP says Hayward will step down as CEO on Oct. 1

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Jul 272010
 
Authors: Janet Stobart –– Los Angeles Times

LONDON –– BP confirmed Tuesday that Tony Hayward is stepping down as CEO as it posted a massive $17 billion loss for the second quarter of 2010.

The company also stated that $30 billion has been set aside to clean up the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion in April. BP Chairman Carl Henric Svanberg confirmed in a BBC radio interview Tuesday morning that the company will also “divest assets of $25 (billion) to $30 billion, and that is to make sure that no one hesitates, there is no worry about our … ability to get through this.”

Hayward will be replaced Oct. 1 by American Robert Dudley, 54, who now heads the cleanup operation.

The agreement to release Hayward as CEO was “a mutual decision” said Svanberg. The 53-year-old executive will take up a directorship with BP TNK, BP’s Russian joint venture. He also leaves with a retirement package of $17 million.

Despite Hayward’s success as head of BP for the last three years, his tenure and his departure will be marked by the worst oil spill ever recorded. In his farewell statement, Hayward said: “The Gulf of Mexico explosion was a terrible tragedy for which — as the man in charge of BP when it happened — I will always feel a deep responsibility, regardless of where blame is ultimately found to lie.”

“I believe the decision I have reached with the board to step down is consistent with the responsibility BP has shown throughout these terrible events. BP will be a changed company as a result of Macondo (its damaged oil well in the Gulf of Mexico) and it is right that it should embark on its next phase under new leadership.”

The company finances remain robust, Svanberg insisted, even though “it will be a different company going forward.”

As he confirmed on BBC radio, the company’s losses were huge “but the underlying performance of the company is actually strong, it continues to be strong, we have strong assets around the world, we have strong cash flow.”

In addition to the cleanup, BP must pay for wildlife rehabilitation and compensate Gulf residents who lost their livelihoods.

The company’s posted losses were “a first estimate,” said Svanberg. “it depends on how many claims come in.”

“That estimate is also based on our belief that we are not (guilty) of gross negligence,” he added.

In keeping with expectations, the company paid no dividends to shareholders for the last quarter, but the Financial Times reported Tuesday that BP shares had gone up by 1 percent in early London trading.

Dudley was president and CEO of TNK BP in Moscow until December 2008. Appointed to BP senior management in April 2009, he supervised BP operations in Asia and the Americas. He was appointed by Hayward to oversee the cleanup.

According to the Associated Press, Dudley grew up partly in Hattiesburg, Miss. He spent 20 years at Amoco Corp., which merged with BP in 1998, and lost out to Hayward on the CEO slot three years ago. Dudley will be based in London when he takes up his appointment and will hand over his present duties in the United States to Lamar McKay, the chairman and president of BP America.

 Posted by at 2:44 pm

Professor fired over comments on homosexuality gets $100,000

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Jul 272010
 
Authors: Lisa M. Krieger ––San Jose Mercury News

SAN JOSE, Calif. –– A San Jose City College professor fired for classroom comments about the origins of homosexuality will get $100,000 from the school in a legal settlement announced Thursday.

The incident also will be removed from June Sheldon’s transcript — but she won’t get her job back.

For two years, attorneys have battled over exactly what was said in Sheldon’s classroom on June 21, 2007, after a quiz in Human Heredity. The professor, whose cause was championed by an alliance of conservative Christian attorneys, acknowledged that she suggested a connection between an expectant mother’s stress and male homosexuality. But an offended student accused the instructor of offering her own, more extreme views, not suitable for classroom discussion.

The case was about whether the lecture was protected under the First Amendment? Was it science? Or an offensive personal opinion?
The settlement doesn’t answer those questions — it merely means that both sides agreed to stop fighting. Because the case didn’t go to trial, the U.S. District Court in San Jose couldn’t rule in either party’s favor.

“A settlement doesn’t establish any law,” said Stanford law professor Hank Greely. “It’s an interesting straw in the wind.” Professors have First Amendment rights in the classroom, said Pam Karlan, Stanford professor of public interest law. But they’re more limited than the rights as the man on the street — or the even rights of the same professor, in their scholarship.

“In the classroom, you are protected if you give a presentation that is pedalogically responsible,” said Karlan.

“The classroom is a place where teachers are hired to speak,” said Karlan. “So if I am hired to be an engineering professor, I don’t have the right to teach about music, or my political beliefs, except if they are connected to what I’ve been hired to teach. You have a huge amount of rights in the classroom, but you need to stick to the subject.”

According to Sheldon, she simply tried to explain the complexity behind the roots of homosexuality, saying that it may be influenced by both genes and the environment.

She contends she referred students to a genetic example mentioned in the textbook, as well as “the perspective of a German scientist who found a correlation between maternal stress, maternal androgens, and male sexual orientation at birth.” But a student — who filed a complaint about “offensive” conduct — heard something completely different.

The student alleged that Sheldon said maternal stress caused male homosexuality, and that “there aren’t any real lesbians — that women just get tired of relationships with men” Further, the student said, Sheldon stated, “there are hardly any gay men in the Middle East because the women are treated very nicely.” The student also said that Sheldon added this advice: If men wanted a strong son, they should treat their wives nicely; if they wanted a “sensitive” son, they should abuse their wives.

Comments on the popular website “Rate Your Professor,” where Sheldon scored a 2.3 of 5 for her 2007 instruction, seem to corroborate the student’s complaint. About half cited examples of Sheldon’s personal story-telling. “She has her agenda to push on us,” wrote one. “She has ridiculous personal opinions,” wrote another. Added another: “She wanders from coursework with personal stories.” After the incident, Sheldon was fired by the District’s Board of Trustees in February 2008; she sued in June.

Sheldon, a part-time professor without tenure, was defended by the Alliance Defense Fund, which describes itself as “ a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith.” That is the same group that sued to stop same sex marriage in California. They trumpeted the settlement, claiming triumph for teachers’ freedom of speech in the classroom.

“Professors shouldn’t be fired simply for doing their jobs as educators,” said ADF Litigation Staff Counsel David J. Hacker on Thursday. “Professionally addressing both sides of an academic issue according to the class curriculum is not grounds for dismissal; it’s what a professor is supposed to do.”

Brad Dacus of the Pacific Justice Institute, which joined in the litigation, said, “The actions of San Jose City College in firing Professor Sheldon were both outrageous and illegal. This case is an alarming, all-too-real illustration of the insidious efforts underway on many college campuses to stifle alternative viewpoints.”

Disagreeing, the San Jose Evergreen Community College District said Sheldon was not exonerated. They admitted no liability, and noted the Sheldon voluntarily agreed to dismiss her claims.

To know whether Sheldon was unjustly fired, “We would need to learn an awful lot more,” said Stanford expert Karlan. “If Sheldon said `Here is what scientists are thinking,’ that’s probably protected. But if she said `There aren’t any real lesbians or gay men in the Middle East,’ that isn’t protected.”

“If she did have a First Amendment right,” Karlan said, “it would have taken a trial to find out.”

 Posted by at 2:38 pm

Student files suit against school district in electronic-monitoring case

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Jul 272010
 
Authors: Derrick Nunnally –– The Philadelphia Inquirer

ARDMORE, Penn. –– The letter from Lower Merion school administrators delivered the news three weeks ago _ her son had been secretly monitored by the webcam on his school-issued laptop. But only when Fatima Hasan saw the evidence did the scope of the spying on her son Jalil become apparent.

There were more than 1,000 images surreptitiously captured by the computer — 469 webcam photographs and 543 screen shots. All were evidence in the case against the Lower Merion School District and its now-abandoned electronic monitoring policy.

“I was really shocked. I didn’t know what I was walking into,” Fatima Hasan said Tuesday afternoon after her son, now 18, filed a civil lawsuit for invasion of privacy against the Lower Merion district and others. “They were all pictures of Jalil, and all Web shots from his laptop, and that’s not an easy feeling.”

The suit joins one filed in February by Blake Robbins, a student at Harriton High School, and for the first time draws in Lower Merion High School, where Jalil Hasan was a senior. For the high-achieving school district, the second civil suit raises the stakes in an already-costly legal fight.

The cases are similar in their broad outlines. The electronic monitoring began after school-issued computers were reported missing. In both cases, the system was simply left on long after the laptops were recovered. Hundreds of photos and screen shots were captured on a predetermined schedule.

The photos from Hasan’s computer included shots of him in his bedroom and of other family members and friends. In a widely published photograph, Robbins, now 16, was shown sleeping on his bed.

According to the suit, Hasan forgot his computer in cooking class on Dec. 18, a Friday. A teacher turned it in to the technology department that day. On Dec. 21, Hasan retrieved his computer from the technology office.

At some point that day, school officials activated the security system. The system kept capturing images for nearly two months and was only deactivated after the first lawsuit was filed.

“When I saw these pictures, it really freaked me out,” said Jalil Hasan, who will attend culinary school in California in the fall.

His mother said she could not understand why the tracking system was activated.

“What was it turned on for if you had (the computer) in your possession?” she asked. “It never left the school, so you could have clearly seen it.”

Fatima Hasan, who owns a day-care center in the Overbrook section of Philadelphia, said she moved to Ardmore from Philadelphia so her son “would be in a safe environment” for high school.

“But then, when I’m looking at these pictures,” she said, “and I’m looking at these snapshots, I’m feeling like, ‘Where did I send my child?’ “

The district commissioned its own investigation and admitted that the monitoring system was flawed. The two Lower Merion staffers authorized to activate remote monitoring are on administrative leave.

The district’s investigation revealed that the webcams had been activated 76 times in less than two years, producing more than 58,000 images. The district acknowledged that more than half the images were created because technicians failed to turn off tracking software after missing laptops were recovered.

Suing the district over the surveillance has not proven popular, though the Robbins suit was filed as a potential class action and was designed to cover every student affected. The district has challenged the legal status, and parents of more than 500 students signed a petition saying they wanted no part of a legal action that would be paid for with their tax dollars.

According to the most recent estimates, the combined legal bills and other case-related expenses from Robbins’ suit have reached about $1.2 million.

Mark S. Haltzman, who represents Hasan and the Robbins family, said class-action status was the most efficient course, though for the moment, both suits are filed separately.

Asked if he expected more lawsuits, Haltzman said, “I think that each person has to decide for themselves whether they want to come forward.”

The district did not respond to the allegations in the suit, but in a statement said “continued litigation is clearly not the right way to proceed.” It noted that new policies governing the use of technology had been drafted.

“While the results of that investigation reveal that mistakes were made, there is no evidence that any students were individually targeted,” the statement said.

 Posted by at 2:34 pm

Lawmakers grill tech companies on privacy

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Jul 272010
 
Authors: Jennifer Martinez –– Tribune Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON –– Following a string of online privacy problems this year, legislators grilled Google, Apple, Facebook and AT&T on Tuesday, seeking assurance that user information will be protected in the future.

Senators questioned whether new legislation is needed to protect people’s personal information online during a hearing held by the Senate Commerce Committee. Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said legislators must ask whether Americans “fully understand and appreciate what information is being collected about them, and whether or not they are empowered to stop certain practices from taking place.”

Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jonathan Leibowitz said people don’t often read privacy policies on websites and that web companies’ privacy policies don’t necessarily protect users.

“There’s a huge disconnect between what consumers think happens to their data and what really happens to their data,” Leibowitz said.

Leibowitz also reiterated the commission’s support for opt-in Web features, which let users choose whether they want to share information with a Web application rather than having their information shared by default.

Google, Facebook, Apple and AT&T have all grappled with recent privacy issues. In May, Google said code inserted in the software of its Street View feature had inadvertently gathered and stored user data from unsecured Wi-Fi networks. Facebook launched a new feature this spring that shared user data with third-party sites, including music station Pandora, by default. Last month, e-mail addresses of iPad users were exposed through a security flaw on AT&T’s website.

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., said Tuesday that he plans to work with Sen. Mark Pryor, R-Ark., on an online privacy bill and hopes to pass it early next year.

“(As) a matter of law, we need new baseline standards for privacy protection that ensure people’s identity is treated with the respect it deserves,” said Kerry.

But technology companies appear likely to oppose new privacy legislation. Google, Facebook, Apple and AT&T emphasized the strength of the current privacy mechanisms they have in place during Tuesday’s hearing. And in keeping with the fast pace of the technology industry, many companies prefer to release new products first and fine-tune them later.

Alma Whitten of Google admitted the search company had “occasionally” made privacy mistakes, but said Google didn’t use the data it collected from its Street View software or share it with others.

“We disclosed what has happened and acknowledged our mistake,” said Whitten of the Street View incident. “We need to do better.”

But Rockefeller criticized how Whitten spent the beginning of her opening statement talking about Google’s economic strength rather than its privacy methods.

“(It) was interesting to me that you started out by talking about how successful Google is,” Rockefeller said. “We all know that.”

 Posted by at 2:30 pm

Candlelight vigil held for deceased CSU grad

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Jul 202010
 
Authors: Rachel Childs

Tears and candle wax fell on the CSU Oval Thursday as a 40-person crowd mourned and celebrated the life of deceased 22-year-old CSU alumna Mary Warren.

Warren was killed on July 5 when the car she was riding in was struck on Interstate 25 by a car driving the wrong way. She had graduated from the College of Liberal Arts in May.

Warren’s close friends began the vigil by dropping flowers from Warren’s home on Laporte Avenue to the Oval while riding their bikes to symbolize her dedication to sustainability.

“Mary never drove, she always rode her bike everywhere,” said Dan Sheahan, Warren’s long-time friend and organizer of the vigil.

Sunflowers adorned a table in the middle of the vigil along with Warren’s picture, in which she wore a smile that few could forget.

“The thing I think I’ll miss the most was her smile,” said Carol Dollard, manager for the Facilities Management Department, where Warren was an intern.

She is remembered as an ambitious young woman with great potential. Her love for political science was evident to all ­­­­­­–– some thought Warren, who worked on the 2008 Obama campaign and as an intern at the state Capitol, would be president.

The hour-long vigil gave those closest to Warren a chance to relive the moments they shared with her through stories.

In the end, attendees placed their extinguished candles in a bucket beneath the picture of Warren’s smiling face and said their final goodbyes.

Crime Beat Reporter Rachel Childs can be reached at news@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 5:28 pm