Archive for April, 2010


South Africa 2010

After 76 years of failed attempts to reach the World Cup, Ghana finally made history after a famous 3-0 victory against South Africa to enter the most prestigious tournament in the world in May 2006. That day, so many dreams came true.  There was so much joy and jubilation in the crowded streets of Accra. I had never been more proud to be a Ghanaian that day.

There have been some great moments in African football, including Ghana’s youth squad winning the Under-17 World Cup in 2009. The fact that the 2010 World Cup will be hosted in South Africa is also groundbreaking even though it has been past due.

Despite the great achievements, there are still some problems I think need to be addressed or at least pointed out.

In Ghana, football is more than just a sport. Like baseball in America, football is Ghana’s past time; it is passion that flows through every Ghanaian’s veins. It spreads infectiously; No matter where you are, you are exposed to it. It becomes a part of you.

“Nobody can deny football. Passion for football is among the children, everybody from the schools to the streets, even the blind man, they want to play football,” Ghana Football Association President Kwesi Nyantakyi said.

I remember growing up in Accra, any game between Hearts of Oak and Kotoko FC on a Sunday is the most exciting time of your life. You sit with your friends and debate which team is the best, then you go and play football right afterwards.

Football also gives hope, not only in Ghana but in Africa too. There is a big, untapped pool of talent. Millions of African children are looking for an opportunity to succeed in life through football.

Since poverty hits hard in most African countries, including Ghana, football is the strong and persistent belief that it is the only way to escape poverty.

“I like football so much, I’m looking forward to playing in Europe, to play in any part of the world,” Kofi Asamoah said, wearing a LA galaxy shirt. He plays in a local league hoping he will be picked up by a scout from the other side of the world.

“If I can sign a professional contract, I can give money to my parents so that they will use it to take care of my sick sister,” 9-year-old Evans Mensah said,

I admire the fact the African youth are chasing their dreams and trying to better lives for themselves. But should trying to be a footballer the only thing that they should aspire to?

 Their dreams to become footballers become ultimately unrealistic given the state of African football. Sadly, some children give up education because they believe they will be picked up by scouts from Europe.

Football in Africa is not in the best state. It needs to improve and it needs to be utilized to its maximum potential and other opportunities should be available to the African children other than football.

One major problem some countries such as Sierra Leone is that the local leagues are dwindling. There is lack of revenue coming in due to corruption by the organizers and supervisors. African footballers are only seen as cheap commodities. They do not get paid and cannot provide for their families. So there is no incentive to stay and play in Africa. As a result, there is an exodus of African players trying to get into Europe and the local game is constantly robbed of quality talent.  In addition to that, African football is seen as completely inferior to the forces of powerful foreign leagues such as the English Premier League (EPL) and the Italian Serie A.

Resources in most African countries are allocated to cable and coverage of these foreign leagues. Local villagers are all about the craze of the foreign football and spend most of their money via pay-per-view especially to watch the EPL. All that money goes to back the EPL, they get bigger and the support or structure behind the local leagues gets smaller.

I’m not saying ban the EPL from being shown in Africa. It is very popular and is a great league to watch. I just think African governments and African football associations should focus resources on developing our own local leagues. We should cut off the corruption that is preventing African football from thriving

South Africa’s Premier Soccer League (PSL) is a structured and commercialized league that is broadcasted all over Africa and even several other countries. Players are paid well, treated fairly and are treated like heroes the way English fans treat Wayne Rooney.

Countries like Ghana and Nigeria should follow suit because I believe it is in the general interest if we all want African football to be on the same level of that England, Spain or Italy

Most importantly, we also need to educate people that football is not the only way out of poverty. We have to show the children that they can be doctors, teachers, pastors, lawyers and so on by encouraging them to go to school. I am certain if we commit to these beliefs, African football will thrive and prosper even more in addition to the recent achievements. Who knows maybe Ghana will win the 2010 World Cup.

Get to know the author behind the Whatever Blog in this short interview.
How old are you now? 
I’m a 22-year-old boy. I still have a lot maturing to do.

What is your favorite color?
Depends, I usually go with a theme of red, black, grey or white.

Are you dating?
No, I’m single. I’m too selfish to be in a relationship and I get shy when it comes to girls.

What do you do when you’re angry?
I like to listen to a music playlist I made called the Calm it’s got . songs like Hustler Musik by Lil Wayne help me clear my head.

Are you an easy person to get along with?
Yes and no. I like to give people respect but I like to mark my personal territory and stand my ground. Some people get offended by that.
How would you describe yourself.
I can’t. I’m always finding new things about myself when I’m put in a certain situation or when I gain new experiences in my life. I just adjust.

IMS sports team celebrate their win after a soccer game

When logging in to Facebook and playing Xbox got boring, Liberty University Freshman Mario Evans figured he needed a better distraction. One that kept him fit and his senses sharp, so he decided to sign up with Liberty University’s (LU) Intramural Sports (IMS) program.

Evans played soccer in high school but never got to make the team so an opportunity that was as competitive seemed worthwhile.

“I play for the fun and to improve my skills as a soccer player,” Evans said. Most of the time, Evans is at the LU Indoor Soccer Complex making darting runs across the artificial turf field, pulling off quick dribbles with his lime-green Nike Mercurial cleats and taking vicious shots at the goalkeeper.

“For me, it’s the most free-flowing sport; I love the passion and energy in the game. I just love it,” Evans said.

 IMS are organized recreational sports leagues that allow students at Liberty to participate in a variety of team and individual sports. Competition exists, but the real focus of intramural sports is health and exercise, social interaction, stress reduction, sportsmanship, and teamwork according to the Ultimate LU Web site. It has cemented itself as a natural and part of college life since 1986.

“The IMS program has allowed students the opportunity to participate in numerous sports leagues, alleviate stress from academics, and provides another chance to exercise,” IMS Supervisor Deanna Dewitt said who oversees and enforces the rules and regulations within IMS.

She has held this position since August 2009 but the first full-time employee position was not established until 2000. Dewitt was born and raised in Fort Lauderdale, FL.  She attended Liberty University from 2005 and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Sport Management and a minor in Business in May 2009. She is currently working on her MBA from Liberty as well. Over the years, IMS has expanded by adding new sports.

“We try to add sports that the students want to be involved in and with the highest interest,” Dewitt said.  

Team sports ranging from Basketball, soccer, flag football, volleyball to softball rank as some of the most played in IMS.

She also added the IMS program strives to make noticeable improvements by updating and upgrading its facilities, adding new facilities and making other changes deemed necessary. “We really do our best to give students what they want,” Dewitt said.

“I heard they were going to add horseback riding, isn’t that crazy?” Freshman Carson Meares says to his friend.

“No man, somebody would fall and break their neck. It’s Student Activities that provide that,” Vincent To said, he also works as volleyball staff for IMS.

“Well, I still think it’d be cool if we had horseback riding,” Meares said with a chuckle.

Nonetheless, the IMS offers a vast array of sports that range from dodgeball, paintball to ultimate Frisbee.

Even though Evans enjoys playing intramural sports, he and other students feel that there is more room for improvement for IMS here at Liberty.

“I started playing this semester; I like it because everyone gets to play but the organization, the refs in particular show a lot of inexperience and that makes me angry sometimes. They could do better,” Evans said. Referees and regulations fair among the biggest complaints about IMS program.

“I swear some of the refs have it out for me and my team. Some of them are on an ego power trip so there is not much you can do,” Sophomore and basketball player Derick Robinson said, frustrated over a call he felt that cost his team a regular season game.

While IMS gives students the opportunities to be active and provides them with more things to do, another constraint may be the fact that there is always the factor of time-management. As a result, students have to prioritize.

“It interferes in a way because the games are set up during class times or conflict with class times. It’s hard because you really want to play. I even know some students who have skipped exams just to play a game. That’s really bad because for me, my academics come first,” Evans said.

Freshman and Evan’s teammate Gregory Adejinle also said the sportsmanship and behaviors of some other players are very hostile.

“I like to be competitive but there are some times when things get out of hand. Fights break out, people calling each other names, you can literally smell the hate between two teams when you are playing on the field and that’s sad, considering the fact that we are in a Christian school,” Adejinle said, reflecting on one time an opponent called him a faggot.

However, these are fairly common complaints, IMS has received its fair share of criticisms but the recreational organization looks for ways to always improve and that they always the enforce rules and regulation of IMS.

 “We cannot make everyone happy with the decisions we choose [regarding the games]. However, our goal is to provide the best service possible to the student body,” Dewitt said after she and the IMS staff receive a flood-in of complaints about the refs and several regulations.

It is one of the stressful parts of her job but the staff Dewitt works with makes it all worthwhile. “It has been a pleasure working for the Intramural Sports staff thus far. Our staff is very friendly but also passionate and committed to their work. It’s a great experience working for the IMS Department.  

Apart from the organization, competition and the games, it is more of way to just hang out, spend time with some friends or make new ones. Most students know about the IMS through word-of-mouth that spreads infectiously.

“When I saw Mario chest and volley a ball from 26 yards out and score I had to get him on my team, “Adejinle said.

 Since then, they do not only play together on the team. They often eat together at the Rot and talk about Manchester United or help each other out with Math.

“Many students have also become lifelong friends from playing together within the program,” Dewitt said.

Sophomore Hillary Duncan did not have much to do until her friend persuaded her to get into volleyball.

“We were working out together in the gym and she just asked me to join her team and that sounded like fun to me,” Duncan said.

“I like the fact that we can play an organized sport but it’s more loose and relaxed than playing on a school team,”  Sophomore and Hillary’s friend Robin Tapken said.

For both friends, IMS gives them something to do, keep them in shape and has become a necessary part of life.

“When you are at the rot, you hear a lot of people talk about their games and their teams. It’s a big part of LU. So I think it’s very important to have something like that because it gives us something to do,” Tapken said.

“Even though you may not be really good at sports, I think it’s a great way to meet people so I’d definitely recommend to anyone to pick it up,” Evans said before he was on his way to his play-off game with his friends.

 For more information on IMS, students can visit www.liberty.edu/ims.

Jane Lindenfelser, a 29-year-old education teacher wakes up at 5:30 a.m. to work on her taxes and files through countless stacks of paperwork and housing applications. After hearing about an increase in housing affordability, she is trying to strike while the iron is hot.

The teacher stays in a town-house one-bedroom apartment situated in the urban streets of Baltimore, Md. She was recently offered a promotion at work giving her more incentive to buy herself a home.

“I’m looking for a home now primarily because of the extended tax credit. This also seemed like a good time to buy personally and I’ve decided to stay and settle in Baltimore,” Lindenfelser said.

Buying a house has come at an opportune time since the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development (MDHCD) announced lowered interest rates under the Maryland Mortgage Program (MMP) in March 2010.

MDHCD Secretary Raymond A. Skinner announced that interest rates for zero point mortgages under the MMP were reduced to 5.25 percent. He also added the rate reduction took effect immediately to increase access to mortgage loan funding.

Approximately, $257 million was provided to MDHCD through the federal government’s New Issue Bond Program (NIBP) which is part of President Barack Obama’s plan to help stabilize the housing market. MDHCD expects to serve nearly 1,600 new homeowners through NIBP and MMP.

“Homeownership is a foundation of strong sustainable communities, and with all the incentives Maryland is able to offer in conjunction with President Obama’s homeownership tax credit, this is a good time to buy,” according to Skinner.

Former Homeownership advisor Shaneece Hudson from Neighborhood Housing Services of Baltimore (NHSB) discussed the benefits of buying a home.

“When you purchase a home, you can use that equity to finance a car, maintain its value or put your kids through college. it’s just a great asset because it’s yours alone, ” Hudson said.

Unlike renting, the occupant makes payments to the landlord and leasing becomes expensive during the long-run because that is money he or she will never get back.

Despite the good news and sheer prosperity of housing in Maryland, Lindenfelser is still taking all precautions and evaluating all the steps she needs to take before she makes a move.

“That’s great news because I definitely have to get a mortgage to finance this purchase. Just to be safe, I spoke with different mortgage bankers to tget pre-approved. I have found this process to be very informative because the actual numbers are very telling in terms of what I can and can’t afford,” Lindenfelser said.

The NHSB has been counseling first-time homebuyers such as Lindenfelser to create and sustain homeownership opportunities through customized lending and consumer education since 1974.

“Informed homebuyers are better equipped to make better decisions especially in regard to taking out loans at a rate they can afford from a bank,” NHSB Education Manager Patricia Hull said.

The NHSB also offers customized loans for first-time homebuyers especially those who cannot afford loans at average rates.

“They refinanced my mortgage, lowered my interest rate to 5.95 percent and cut my monthly payments down by $400. I was so pleased with their service and amazed with their ability to help me,” Baltimore resident Angela Parker said in a client testimonial on the NHSB Web site.

“Everyone should have the opportunity to share in the American dream, which is own a home. It creates wealth, strengthens families and revitalizes the neighborhood,” according to NHSB.

Aside from learning about the home buying process and acquiring a loan, selecting the right real estate agent is also an important factor within the process.

Lindenfelser linked with up a real estate Karin Batterton from Guildford Real Estate through a referral from her colleague.

“I selected my real estate agent after interviewing three other agents. The other agents felt like they were pressuring and clawing for my business,” Lindenfelser said. “I chose her because fit my style and she seemed like someone I could trust,”

The two discussed details over coffee together at Common Ground’s Coffee shop not far from Lindenfelser’s apartment.

Homebuyers or sellers are usually wary of real estate agents because they the agents do not always look out for their best interest.

Most real estate agents in today’s market charge 5 to 6 percent of the sales price of the house for their services, of that amount, half is usually provided as an incentive for the buyers’ agent, making the selling agent take only about 3 percent. But that 3 percent is usually split halfway with the agent’s company, which means the agent is likely to get about 1.5 percent of the sales price according to business columnists Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner from the New York Times.

Dubner also added due to the way commission is structured, it is not in the real estate agent’s best interests to get the best price for a home. Getting the most money for their seller is not their priority because they want the customer to buy the house as soon as possible. They may offer a good price but never the best one.

“It is far more profitable for a Realtor to get the seller to take the first reasonable offer of $300,000 that comes along than waiting another week and or two and get $310,000 instead,” Dubner said.

“Making a sale is important but getting the customer or client to have confidence in you and earning their trust always comes first,” Batterton said on her real estate Web site. “I make sure I inform the buyer or seller on homeownership advice so they make the best decisions for the most purchase or sale,” Batterton said.

Lindenfelser is still in the process of searching for a home and is looking to get a mortgage loan from Chevy Chase Bank once she finds a house. During that process she has been trying to calculate her debt-to-income ratio.

“You want to pay the least amount of money out of your pocket and have the lowest monthly payment,” Lindenfelser said.

Debt-to-income ratio compares the amount of debt (excluding mortgage or rent payment) to one’s income. The ratio is best figured on a monthly basis. For example, if one monthly take-home pay is $2,000 and the homebuyers pays $400 per month in debt payment for loans and credit cards, his or her debt-to-income ratio is 20 percent ($400 divided by $2,000= .20).

Mortgage banks use debt-to-income ratio to determine what rate they will lend a loan or if it is even safe enough to lend a loan.

“Letting your ratio rise above 20 percent may jeopardize your ability to make major purchases of a home, keep you from getting the lowest available interest rates and best credit terms,” according to Incharge Debt Solutions, a nonprofit credit counseling Web site.

 “I learned a lot about that so I would know where I stand financially,” Lindenfelser said.

With all that taken care of, she hopes to settle in a home very soon.

By Jenna Wortham

Brendan McElroy’s living room in an apartment on the top floor of an East Village walk-up is crowded with anxious patients, each one jiggling a knee, or gnawing on a fingernail or lip.

Everyone is awaiting a prognosis — not for an ailing child or pet, but for an iPhone.

Mr. McElroy, a lanky, clean-shaven 28-year-old who looks more likely to be playing an afternoon game of touch football than tinkering with the innards of a phone, is standing at a workstation littered with the detritus of his trade: tiny silver screws, peels of plastic and cartons overflowing with spare parts.

Using a quick succession of tools — suction cup, razor blade and screwdriver — Mr. McElroy sets to work replacing a broken screen, deftly prying it off the iPhone.

Fifteen minutes later, he slips the back cover on and hands the phone to an eager client, who punches in the code to unlock it and sighs with relief as it leaps to life.

“It’s not difficult to do,” said Mr. McElroy, who taught himself to repair iPhones by studying YouTube video tutorials that demonstrate how to disassemble and reassemble the device. “But it’s difficult to do perfectly.”

With Apple having sold 50 million iPhones, it was perhaps inevitable that a cottage industry of iPhone repair shops would spring up. The one-year warranty that comes with the iPhone doesn’t cover damage unless it is shown to be caused by a manufacturing defect. And using official Apple channels for repairs can get expensive quickly. Screen replacements alone can cost as much as $300, inspiring some iPhone owners to seek out alternative ways to restore their phones’ health.

Enlisting the services of Mr. McElroy — or Dr. Brendan, if you prefer his Web moniker — costs markedly less. Replacing the battery on a 3G or 3GS iPhone for example, will run about $50. The price tag for fixing the touch-screen on an iPhone 3G is $70; for a 3GS, it’s $15 more.

Mr. McElroy’s operation is one of many offering rehabilitation services for the iPhone. A quick perusal of the business reviews site Yelp for places to take a mangled phone turned up dozens of listings in urban areas like San Francisco, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.

Companies like MissionRepair, Rapid Repair and iResQ primarily offer mail-order services, which require shipping off the damaged iPhone. In addition to inviting customers to his apartment, Mr. McElroy makes house calls in and around New York City, sometimes crisscrossing boroughs several times a day. He also accepts repairs by mail and says he has a healthy international clientele from as far away as Portugal.

Of course, the bravest among us — and those with the steadiest fingers — can always try to make the repairs themselves. There’s no shortage of kits and online how-tos to guide adventurous tinkerers.

It’s worth noting that taking the D.I.Y. approach, or allowing someone other than Apple or its authorized repair centers to fix the phone, could violate Apple’s warranty.

One of those authorized businesses is TekServe, a well-known computer store in the Chelsea district of Manhattan. Although its fees are significantly higher than Mr. McElroy’s — repairing a smashed screen on a 3G iPhone costs $149 — the company justifies them by pointing to its long track record.

“We’ve been around for 23 years,” said Jazmin Hupp, a spokeswoman for the company. “We’re not a college kid who set up shop to do it this weekend and won’t be around in 90 days after the guarantee is up.”

Ms. Hupp said that the company offered a guarantee on its repairs and that its technicians had been trained by Apple. She would not say how many iPhones the shop had repaired, but she did say that cracked screens were the most common malady.

Apple recommends finding authorized repair shops on its Web site at apple.com/support. “We can’t vouch for the quality of unauthorized repairs,” said Natalie Kerris, a company spokeswoman.

Mr. McElroy offers customers his own warranty of sorts. He guarantees his handiwork and will replace any phone damaged in the repair process — though he says that hasn’t happened since his inaugural attempt at fixing an iPhone.

“The first try went less than smoothly,” he said. “I had just finished a bartending shift and reached for my phone. I dropped it and it smashed on the concrete floor.”

Hoping to find an economical fix, he decided to try his hand at replacing the shattered screen. He purchased parts, first from eBay, then from a local repair shop, and got to work.

“I’d describe it as semi-successful,” he said.

But after polishing his method on the phones of a few willing friends, it wasn’t long before he had improved enough to charge for his services.

Through an advertisement on Craigslist, Mr. McElroy began offering to replace shattered screens, and eventually expanded his menu to include broken SIM card trays, cracked covers, water damage and more mysterious glitches, like unresponsive buttons.

Before long, he said, business was booming. He took down his classifieds ads because word-of-mouth referrals and his Web site (www.drbrendan.com) were driving enough traffic. He quit his job tending bar to focus on his repair work. In the last few weeks, he’s enlisted an apprentice: his younger brother, Dan, who handles the iPod Touch touch-ups.

“There’s rarely a phone I can’t fix,” said Mr. McElroy, who estimates he’s worked on a thousand iPhones since June. “There was once a guy whose phone was thrown out of a 10-story window. The entire thing was split in half, but the motherboard was fine.”

Despite the trauma, he said, “I was able to get it up and running for him.”

The worst phones aren’t the ones dropped from great heights, Mr. McElroy said. They’re the ones that are dropped in the toilet.

“I keep a pair of rubber gloves around for that,” he said.

Mr. McElroy said he had recently branched out to doing repairs on MacBooks. Now he’s gearing up for a fresh wave of business: the iPad. But he suspects the iPhone will remain his main source of revenue.

The iPad “actually looks like it won’t break as often,” he said. “It has a nice sturdy case that should protect it when falling.”

Reporting From Capitol Hill to the Newseum

I asked myself, was it worth waking up at 5:30 in the morning to go on a school trip to a place as formal and ordinary as Washington, D.C.? It is comprised of nothing but just capitol cities, museums, monuments, buildings and infinite intersections of streets.

Never mind I thought, I knew our assignment. We were going to see another historic site and write what we learned about it. I was always disengaged from these field trips and reluctant about learning anything. There was no point to it.

After almost four hours on the road and looking out the window of the coach bus, we arrived. Another insignificant return to the capitol district. I was bored. Even with the warm weather of springtime and cherry blossoms , I was oblivious to it all.

Our group walked northwest past a couple of street lights and crosswalks on Constitution Avenue all the way to what looked like another corporate building. It was actually a museum but not just any museum- it was the Newseum.

I never knew that it was at the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and Sixth Street on America’s Main Street between the White House and the U.S. Capitol and adjacent to the Smithsonian museums on the National Mall. It is a 250,000 square-foot archive of information and history regarding anything that is newsworthy. I was pleasantly surprised from what I saw inside.

It was massively impressive. Six floors that blend five centuries of news history with up-to-the-second technology and hands-on exhibits. There was a multimedia billboard, an electronic news timeline, digital displays and video cameras. There were also historical artifacts displays including a piece of the Berlin Wall.

Through interacting with the Newseum, I even got to report from Capitol Hill by simulating a broadcasting package. I did well and it was a lot of fun.

I really appreciated photojournalism display of the Pulitzer Prize Photographs.  They grabbed  my attention from the start.

“If it makes you laugh, if it makes you cry, if it rips out your heart, that’s a good picture,” an engraved quote by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Eddie Adams said.

I felt that when I saw a picture of the Columbine shooting by George Kochaniec, Jr, who won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize photograph. I felt the despair and heartache of students crying in an anguished embrace from losing loved ones. Without these photos, any news story will not have that telling impact of what really happened even if it is written well.

I also stopped by the Newseum theatre to watch a short biography of Elvis Presley’s career as one of America’s greatest entertainers. He was known for his unprecedented  moves of hip-shaking and quick feet shuffles. They were so controversial because the public saw his dance moves as vulgar and the news coverage on him spread like sensational wildfire. He was a great entertainer during his time and his death had a huge impact on music in America.  The Newseum also had Presley artifacts on display including his famous glittering  jumpsuit he wore during rehearsals for the “Aloha from Hawaii” concert in 1973.

I also took interest in Nigerian reporter and Editor Babafemi Ojudu. He was imprisoned in 1998 for writing against a military dictator’s cruel acts and corrupt acts against helpless Nigerians. Jailers tortured Ojudu because he refused to give up identity of his sources  on the published reports about the dictator. For me, it was a great lesson in African journalism and the fact that he became a martyr for his beliefs. The Newseum also had a display of his shirt that was specked with blood.

One historical event that I took away from the Newseum was about the Ku Klux Klan march in 1925 in Washington, D.C.

I felt terrible and shameful of an event to take place in American history but given the times and state the country was in, it is not that surprising. Once I thought about it, The Jim crow laws, the segregation,  the racial barriers would only fan the flames that would burn for the Civil Rights movement and racial equality, which was led by great historical figures Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks.

It was an emotional and exciting experience at the Newseum. After our time there, we left to go to Congress.

It was not as exciting as the Newseum but I definitely learned something really important that day. As our group split up to even smaller groups, we went to see a short film on the history of America’s struggle for Independence, the formation of Congress and the Constitution.

It gave me goose bumps, just knowing how far a country has come to fought with tyrant England then with itself during the Civil War. I just appreciated America’s history a lot more than I did. After leaving the city and returning to back to my dorm in Liberty. I had a lot more respect for Washington D.C. after the trip.

Reporting from Capitol to the Newseum

 

 

Police have used pepper spray and tear gas to disperse what they say was a rowdy crowd of thousands who gathered for an annual open air party near the James Madison University campus.

Lt. Kurt Boshart of the Harrisonburg Police Department said about 8,000 people gathered Saturday afternoon for an off-campus party that usually draws only 1,000 to 2,000. When fights broke out, Boshart said police tried to break up the crowd and some party-goers threw bottles and rocks at officers, leading them eventually to resort to tear gas.

Boshart says more than 30 people have been arrested and charges are pending.
It’s unclear why so many people converged on the town of 40,000 this year, but Boshart says he heard the event had been promoted on Facebook.

-Associated Press

Lynchburg, VA- Communication students from Liberty University learned that the police and the news media can actually work together in keeping the public safe during a speech on crime and news media coverage.

Lt. Alan Faircloth of the Lynchburg Police Department (LPD) and WSET Senior Anchor Noreen Turyn from ABC 13 informed students of their respective roles.

Faircloth has been with the LPD for 29 years and is currently working as a part-time Public Information Officer (PIO).

“Our job is to work closely with the media and with other people that are looking for information in general or specifically regarding crime scenes or the police,” Faircloth said.

Turyn has worked 20 years at WSET switching from various news jobs from reporting to producing before rising as the managing editor.

“My beat for all my years has been coverage of courts and crimes. I’ve been to many crime scenes and I love it. My dad worked in the FBI for many years so it’s something that’s in my blood,” Turyn said.

“Lynchburg is fortunate to have a law enforcement agency and local media that get along so well because usually the law and the media go at each other all the time. You have the law saying ‘We have the information, you don’t’ and the media wants information but they don’t get it,” Faircloth said.

Students also learned that the media and law enforcement tend to misunderstand each other. News reporters would inquire about certain information during crime scenes and police supervisors would have no idea or any background about that information.

As a result, the PIO was born. The PIO is designated to disperse public information upon request. The LPD has implemented the PIO service in its agency for three years now.

“We had to have a central source of releasing information because of conflicting information, so having a PIO made things a lot easier,” Faircloth said.

However, Faircloth also noted that a PIO is  not always available during various police investigations or would not disclose certain information due to reasons such as protecting family privacy, classified information or suspect data crucial to the preservation of an investigation.

Turyn concurs, having an understanding of what information the police can withhold is crucial to bridging the relationship gap between law enforcement and the media.

“we don’t want to ruin an investigation or have a murder go unsolved just because we released information [we should not have]. Our role in the media is to make sure the public stays safe and is informed,” Turyn said.

In maintaining that role, Turyn added that reporters take what they can get from the police in order to inform the public about dark alleys, murders, random killings or drug busts all for the sake of public safety.

“It is true that we have a really great relationship with the LPD and it is good that we can get the most information we need,” Turyn said.

She also added that most information is available to reporters if they build a rapport with police officers and earn their trust. In several other counties, more polices districts are more reluctant because of the distrusting views towards reporters.

Trust between the police and the media is very important because it can bring the two closer to solving a crime like a murder that took place in Campbell County Turyn covered six months ago.

“We were covering the murder of a man who was involved with a pagan bike gang and we decided to do a story on pagans. An officer I knew stopped us short and told us ‘the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree’.” Turyn said.

This gave Turyn a clue as she later found out that the biker was murdered by his own wife.

It also works the other way around, reporters can give police information they found out about a certain investigation which can help  police solve the crime.

Despite the improved relationship among the press and the police, sometimes the media is also responsible for keeping the police in line and will report stories of questionable ethics among the police.

The reporter also stressed to students that the police cannot always give all the information that is needed during a report. She advised a bargaining process of information or investigating is a good way to get the story.

“”You don’t have to get everything from the police, ask people what they  saw, go from door to door and just ask,”” Turyn said.

At the end of the speech, Turyn and Faircloth gave more technical advice to students on covering crime scenes. Including reporting ethics, discretion and other dependent rules but most importantly- freedom of the press.

“We are the public and we have the right to information, as a reporter you should know when you are allowed to report and when to back off  but never let anyone intimidate you,” Turyn said.

“Yes, never take no for an answer, this might be cliché but you have to think outside the box. Always ask why. Don’t be afraid to develop meaningful relationships with other people. Work on building that trust,” Faircloth said.

Lynchburg, Va- Saving on gas will not get any easier now that gas prices keep increasing in the U.S. due to several factors including the current weather this season.

As of now, the national average for a gallon of regular unleaded is at $2.81. Here in Lynchburg, Va., gas stations are charging 10 cents less on average.

However, gas prices still remain at the highest level in  the U.S. since Oct. 2008. Fuel resource experts are certain that prices will keep on rising and could possibly go over the $3 tag.

“Gas prices here depend on various factors like how far is station is distanced from a town, the type of fuel used and where it is extracted from,” Shell Gas station Manager Nathan on Timberlake Road said.

“Prices tend to rise from March through August. That’s because most gas stations have to switch to a more expensive type of fuel required by the government,” Phillips added.

Gas stations switch to a summer blend of fuel, which is more expensive but is less harmful to the environment according to Mike O’Connor from the Virginia Petroleum, Convenience and Grocery Association.

“When we turn over to the summertime gasoline, it is more expensive to produce but it produces less volatile emissions that are harmful to the environment. This is also mandated by the federal government,” O’ Connor said.

A necessary precaution because the weather this time of the year could also drive up prices considerably. If a hurricane season hits and threatens the U.S., gas prices will definitely rise according to O’ Connor.

“Gas prices are going up largely because travel experts expect consumptions to rise this year. Gas prices traditionally increase as the weather warms, leading to the summer travel season and higher demand,” according to AAA Alabama spokesperson Clay Ingram.

In other states, West Virginians are among the less fortunate that are experiencing high gas prices. Average retail gasoline prices have risen 8.3 cents per gallon over the national average to $2.88 per gallon on average since March 27.

This compares with the national average that has increased 3.3 cents per gallon in the last week to $2.81 per gallon according to gasoline price Web site WestVirginiaGasPrices.com.

“[The prices] are outrageous. You just can’t get a break. I had to give up buying a lot of food for the trip so I could buy enough gas to drive back to school after spring break,” Liberty University student and W. Va. resident Jason Daniels said.

This also includes the change in gas prices in W. Va from February. Prices today are 87.7 cents per gallon higher than one year ago and are 23.4 cents per gallon higher than a month ago. The national average has increased 15.1 cents per gallon during February and stands at 87.2 cents per gallon higher than 2009.

For more information on finding the lowest gas prices, people can look up Web sites such as api.org or dieselforum.org

Plagiarism

A student is working on his English paper. It is 2 a.m. and he is terribly tired and wants to retreat back to his bed. He shouldn’t have stayed up all night and played Halo with his friends he thought. He has only written one paragraph and has over 1,500 words left to go. He then quickly goes on to a Web site about English literature. He copies and pastes what he wants into the rest of “his” paper, “his” work and goes back to bed. This is a classic case of plagiarism and is very serious problem

According to the Random House Compact Unabridged Dictionary, plagiarism is defined as, “The use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one’s own original work.”

In addition to that, no proper credit or acknowledgement is given to the original source. That is why plagiarism is branded as an act of dishonesty. Plagiarism is an infectious stigma that corrupts academic progress and also disgraces the field of journalism. Unfortunately, it happens all the time and there are many of those “Really high up there” cases where plagiarism has impacted a student, a reporter or a professor’s career. And believe me, it’s always for the worse.

One particular example of plagiarism occurred when historian Doris Kearns Goodwin admitted to copying several passages from other authors in her best-seller “The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys” right before she was to participate as a judge for the Pulitzer Prize in 2002. As a result, Goodwin withdrew from the Pulitzer Prizes. According to an online news archive from CNN, the board was left to sort out Goodwin’s mess.

“Pulitzer board adminstrator Seymour Topping announced Goodwin’s withdrawal Monday and added that the Pulitzer Prize board ‘had made no decision on the controversy,'”

This had a very negative impact on the Pulitzer board because it was under bad press and the board had to recover from such controversy in order to maintain its high standard and reputation for the Pulitzer Prize. Goodwin also resigned as a commentator on PBS’ “NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.” It must have been the guilt of knowing what she did was wrong.

In 2001, renowned historian Stephen Ambrose had his career in controversial shambles after an article from the Weekly Standard by Fred Barnes first discovered his book “The Wild Blue: The Men and Boys Who Flew the B-24s over Germany” contained several identical words and phrases from Thomas Childers’s 1995 “Wings of Morning: The Story of the Last American Bomber Shot Down over Germany in World War II.”

“The two books are similar in more than just subject. Whole passages in ‘The Wild Blue’ are barely distinguishable from those in ‘Wings of Morning.’ Sentences in Ambrose’s book are identical to sentences in Childers’s. Key phrases from ‘Wings of Morning,’ such as ‘glittering like mica’ and ‘up, up, up,’ are repeated verbatim in ‘The Wild Blue.’ None of these- the passages, sentences, phrases is put in quotation marks and ascribed to Childers,” Barnes said.

Consequently, there was a tireless influx of news stories and online articles about Ambrose’s use of plagiarism. All of them as a media called out Ambrose on his dishonest and unethical work. In the end, Ambrose released a public apology but his reputation and career as historic writer was ultimately destroyed.

Then there is the infamous reporter from the New York Times Jayson Blair who had plagiarized reporter Macarena Hernandez’s story about a missing soldier in Iraq from the Sun Antonio Express-News. This led to an investigation by the New York Times against Blair and they found out that 36 of the 73 stories that he wrote between Oct. 2002 and May 2003 were either made up or taken from other sources and were not given proper credit.

Blair was inevitably fired from the The New York Times. It was a disgrace and the Times referred to Blair’s career as a “profound betrayal of trust and a low point in the 152-year history of the newspaper,”

This is plagiarism on a massive scale and is completely unacceptable.

In short, I would never want to commit such dishonest and unethical work. Plagiarism ultimately leads to the destruction of one’s work and career. Any student, writer or reporter should learn a valuable lesson from these previous examples. It is important that your work is ethical at all times and should exhibit good intentions and objective honesty if you use a source in your work, you must cite it or give credit when it’s due or else it is nothing but plagiarism.