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Back to school

Can you believe how fast this summer is going? Tuesday the 26 thousands of year-round students go back to school after their summer vacation. A month later, traditional school starts. I just finished a story to run Tuesday morning about how parents should start preparing their kids for school soon. School officials say kids should have been reading all summer, but it's never too late to start. Getting back to a routine and schedule will be important as it gets closer to the first day of school. It's hard to go from staying up late to hearing that alarm clock buzz.

I did a story earlier this week about flip-flops showing up everywhere in this heat. Even in restaurants, church, the opera, the office, etc. There was a whole flip-flop-flap after a lacrosse team was photgraphed with President Bush and four of the young women were wearing flip-flops with their skirts/dresses. Some peopel were shocked, others said who cares, they are cute flip-flops. I'm wearing some today with a dress(gasp!) But my feet have given up the fight against pregnancy swelling and I can't fit in anything else. So I just apologize when I'm out on a story to the person I'm interviewing and they say they are fine with it. Usually it prompts conversation, either about pregnancy or about flip-flops being everywhere these days.

Posted by Mary Richards on July 22, 2005 at 05:22 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)

Red Cell Think Tank

I had an interesting conversation today with an author out of Park City.  Brad Thor writes military thrillers and after 9/11 he was invited by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to join the "Analytic Red Cell Program."  Thor says it's a turbo charged think tank where people are brought in from intelligence, military, law enforcement and the private sector to come up with potential terrorist scenarios.  Thor says one day he just received a call on his cell phone asking him to be a part of the group.  He's one of two thriller writers the group brought in to come up with ideas. 

Thor is now able to talk about his work with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  While he can't give specific details on some things he says they talked about: prospects for new terror incidents in the United States, potential vulnerabilities, effectiveness of U.S. countermeasures, and implications of overseas terror incidents.  While his background isn't in the military his father was a marine and he has many contacts with the intelligence community which helped him come up with a lot of the ideas for his books. 

His latest book "BLOWBACK" is about a weapon designed to decimate the Roman Empire that is now a threat to the United States.  Thor says it's based on research about a current group of Islamic Fundamentalist scientists that are aligned with Al-Qaida who are searching all over the world looking to get their hands on anything to be used against the West.

Thor says he writes his novels by day and when his phone rings he flies out to Washington D-C to help brain storm on incidents including the latest attack in London.

Posted by Lance Bandley on July 20, 2005 at 06:03 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Registry...

So today I covered the launch of the state's official "Child Protection Registry."  It's designed to protect kids from getting unsolicited e-mails like porn, gambling, tobacco and other illicit items.  You can register your child's e-mail address by clicking here.

However, as I point out in my story today (which you can hear by clicking here) don't go expecting this to be the "save all" for e-mail.  This will not likely stop spammers who bombard your e-mail box with everything from porn to pills to pseudo-fantastic deals on mortagages.  Even the creators of the system acknowledge that.  Also, the Utah Attorney General's Office admits prosecuting people who break the rules may be tricky.

After finishing up that story, I took a nice, long scenic drive out to Herriman (which is just EXPLODING in growth) to cover a story about new safety measures being built into today's schools.  It was perfectly timed after last week's fire at Wasatch Jr. High.  Schools built back then didn't have sprinkler systems or fire stops.  Now, they've got that and even smoke detectors in the air ducts!  You can hear my story by clicking here.

Posted by Ben Winslow on July 19, 2005 at 03:35 PM | Permalink | Comments (9)

News Vehicle Sneakiness

I must confess. I tried to be sneaky and it didn't work. We have five news vehicles and seven reporters. Randall Jeppesen has one all the time at the Utah County Bureau. That leaves four for the rest of us in SLC, but we usually work it out during the day, because we have different shifts. The priority always goes to the reporters who have to go live or are on breaking stories. However, sometimes it can be a battle for the keys to the remaining cars. If you don't get them, then you take your own car and expense the mileage, which is not a problem. Except if you have to go a long distance with no air conditioning and are nine-months pregnant in this heat (me). I'm trying to defend the following action!

On Thursday I had an interview set up at 11 AM. Since I come in later in the day I knew Sheryl and Jon, being morning reporters, would have first crack at the keys for their closer look interviews. So I called the newsroom pretty early and asked Paul (the morning AP) to take one pair of keys out of the drawer and hide them for me. Sneaky thing to do, I know. Then I got a call at 9:30 AM from Sheryl. "Um, Mary....I have to drive to Logan for my closer look and Jon has to drive to Clearfield for his. I can't put that kind of mileage on my car again, and Jon's car is in the shop. So, I think we're going to need those keys back." Blast. She was so sweet, she offered me her air conditioned car for my interview. It ended up being much simpler. I simply rescheduled. Then I went out and bought a newer car (with air conditioning). Not because of the keys incident; I had been considering moving on for a long, long time. Anybody want a '91 Volvo?

Posted by Mary Richards on July 15, 2005 at 06:29 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Taking Identity From a Baby...

Wow!  You go away for a few days and everybody out there in BLOG-land starts getting restless and antsy!  I blame the heat.  Seriously, the weather has been bad lately.  I cover my stories and then race back to the car and crank the a/c while I'm filing!

It's been a busy day in the news today.  My first story this morning was a happy one.  Geraldine McMahon, the 74-year-old woman with Alzheimer's who disappeared from University Hospital was found this morning, just across the street from KSL.  Channel Five's Amanda Butterfield and myself made it over there as she was sitting with a security guard, waiting for University of Utah police.  For someone who's been the subject of a 19 hour search, McMahon appeared in good spirits, although she insisted she was not missing.  You can hear my story by clicking here.

From there, I covered the truly frightening story of the day.  The Utah Attorney General's Office announced "Operation Protect the Children."  It's a crackdown on the latest form of Identity Theft: stealing childrens' social security numbers.  You can hear my story on that by clicking here.  The Utah Attorney General's Office estimates 1,800 social security numbers belonging to kids 13 and under have been pilfered.  I interviewed an Ogden family who discovered their five year-old daughter's social security number was used to secure a woman a job at a steak restaurant in Orem.  Now, they have to check her credit -- and she hasn't even entered kindergarten yet!  Five people have been charged, hundreds more may face charges.  You can read more about identity theft by clicking here.

It felt a little like I was back at the search for Lori Hacking when I went out to the industrial section of Salt Lake City.  A woman's body was found wrapped in a trash bag.  Right now, police are trying to identify the woman.  They're also trying to figure out if it's a murder or if the woman died some other way -- and someone's trying to cover it up.  From what I've been told, detectives have an idea of what part of the Salt Lake valley the garbage may have come from, which could help them get some answers to this mystery.  You can hear my story by clicking here.

I want to end this BLOG post on a happier note to ease you into the weekend.  You've got to tune in to Utah's Afternoon News from 4-7p to hear Marc Giauque's story about Christmas -- in July.  I know I wouldn't want to be Santa Claus in 100-degree heat!  Have a good weekend everybody!

Posted by Ben Winslow on July 15, 2005 at 02:37 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Law & Order: Salt Lake City

An interesting day for me in the news today!

First off, I went to the opening of the FBI's new Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory (RCFL).  It will be used to analyze evidence in any crime involving a computer.  Pretty hi-tech stuff.  You can hear my story by clicking here.

Then, I went to the meeting of the Utah Sentencing Commission at the State Capitol Building.  They discussed raising the mandatory on first degree murder sentences from five years to 15 years.   It was proposed in response to the public outcry surrounding Mark Hacking's six-to-life sentence.  Victim representative Sy Snarr was critical of the sentence handed down to Hacking.  Then, the Board of Pardons' Mike Sibbett announced they'd set Mark Hacking's parole hearing -- 30 years from now.

It was one of those moments that made me look down to make sure my recorder was working.  As the meeting continued, I used my cell phone to text message the news back to the station, so they could get it on the air.  You can hear my story by clicking here.

The Sentencing Commission then moved on to discussing some additions to the sex offender registry.  Sexual battery and voyeurism could be added to the list.

Late this afternoon, a federal judge tossed Angela Ricci's lawsuit against Salt Lake City.  She sued them over the death of her husband, one-time Elizabeth Smart kidnapping suspect.  "The city murdered my husband," she told me this afternoon.  She and her lawyer plan an appeal.  Tune in this afternoon to Utah's Afternoon News from 4-7p to hear more.

Posted by Ben Winslow on July 6, 2005 at 03:41 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

Dancing With the Stars

I admit it, I'm hooked on that show. Tonight's the season finale, and I'm rather sad my Wednesday night activity is leaving. I found out last week that Ashley DelGrosso, a ballroom dancer on the show, is from Utah County. I thought that would make a great story. But she was voted off, with her partner Joey McIntyre. But then I read a USA Today article about how the show and other ballroom dance movies and shows, are fueling an interest in ballroom dance classes across the country. So I checked around here and some studios say they are seeing more people sign up.

Dscf0599 This is a picture of students dancing in a University of Utah ballroom dance class. I spoke with the instructor, Paul Wilding. He also has his own studio called Dance Dimension. He likes the show, "Dancing With the Stars" too, and says it's probably so high-rated this summer because unlike other bug-eating, mean-spirited reality shows, this one has glamor. He said there are other reasons besides the show why the there's an increased interest in dance. More people want to learn how to dance for their weddings, more couples are looking at something to do together, it's a great fitness activity and a lifetime activity, and it's even recommended by some marriage therapists. It takes two to tango they say, and what better way to learn how to communicate than through dancing together. Who would have thought!

Posted by Mary Richards on July 6, 2005 at 01:58 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)


So did anyone catch the Sugarhouse fireworks the other night?


They were pretty rad, I must admit,  but how much did they cost?  I just want to know out of curiousity, and I'll bet one of you loyal blog readers knows!!

Posted by Jon Dunn on July 6, 2005 at 01:56 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)