DeVos compares school choice to switching phone carriers (AP)

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos reiterated her push for school choice during an annual education technology conference in Utah Tuesday, comparing the issue to being able to switch between phone service providers.

She said there are many great cell phone companies, but people have the option to pick which one they want to use.

“If you can’t get cell phone service in your living room, then your particular provider is failing you,” she told hundreds of people in a packed auditorium in Salt Lake City during her keynote speech. “You should have the option to find a network that does work.”

Outside, dozens of protesters pushed back against DeVos’ education policies, including her emphasis on school choice, saying it threatens public education.

Kellie Henderson, a protester and co-founder of the activist group Utah Indivisible, said she couldn’t afford the nearly $3,000 conference tickets, but is concerned with DeVos’ support of school choice because it could take money from public education.

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Articles on a Utah judge who called a convicted rapist a “good man” (AP)

Group complains judge who called rapist ‘good man’ is biased

Apr. 20, 2017

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah judge who called a convicted rapist a “good man” during sentencing showed bias for the defendant because he was a former Mormon bishop, according to an official complaint filed Thursday by a gay rights group.

Mark Lawrence of Restore our Humanity said the group sent the complaint to the state Judicial Conduct Commission, which can recommend the Utah Supreme Court reprimand or remove Judge Thomas Low.

Low sentenced Keith Robert Vallejo last week to five years to life in prison after a jury found him guilty of 10 counts of forcible sexual abuse and one count of object rape.

“The court has no doubt that Mr. Vallejo is an extraordinarily good man,” Low said at the hearing. “But great men sometimes do bad things.”

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Repercussions unclear for judge after comments on rape case

April 17, 2017

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Complaints keep pouring in about a Utah judge who called a convicted rapist a “good man” during his sentencing hearing. But the chances of the judge being punished appear slim because his remarks don’t seem to fit within any of the five forms of judicial misconduct that would trigger reprimands, one expert said.

At least four of these categories of misconduct don’t apply to Judge Thomas Low’s remarks, Paul Cassell, a professor of criminal law at the University of Utah, said Monday. The fifth category would only apply if officials determined that his comments were damaging to the administration of justice, which is difficult to prove, Cassell said.

Last week, Low sentenced Keith Robert Vallejo, a former Mormon bishop, to up to life in prison after a jury found him guilty of 10 counts of forcible sexual abuse and one count of object rape.

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Utah judge at rape sentencing: Ex-Mormon bishop a ‘good man’

April 15, 2017

PROVO, Utah (AP) — A woman says she is shocked by a Utah judge’s comments in which he called a former Mormon bishop convicted of sexually assaulting her a “good man” during his sentencing hearing.

Julia Kirby said Friday that Judge Thomas Low appeared to care more for her attacker than he did about her.

“He only cared about the person he was convicting, and I think that is really kind of despicable,” said the 23-year-old Kirby, who has given The Associated Press permission to publish her name

Low sentenced Keith Robert Vallejo to up to life in prison this week after a jury found him guilty of 10 counts of forcible sexual abuse and one count of object rape.

Kirby said she was 19 when Vallejo, a relative, groped her multiple times when she stayed at his house while attending Brigham Young University in 2013.

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Brigham Young University sexual assault articles (AP)

Police review Brigham Young’s handling of sex-assault cases

June 1, 2016

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah’s Department of Public Safety has launched an investigation into whether Brigham Young University’s police department is appropriately sharing sexual assault case information.

BYU’s police department asked for the investigation so that an external party could examine whether it is correctly sharing these reports with other departments in the school and county, said Marissa Villasenor, spokeswoman for the Department of Public Safety.

The fact-finding investigation was initiated on Tuesday and follows the barrage of recent complaints over the school’s practice of opening honor code investigations into students after they report being sexually assaulted.

All BYU students must agree to abide by the honor code and violators can be expelled or otherwise punished. The code, which was created by students in 1949, prohibits such things as “sexual misconduct,” or “obscene or indecent conduct or expressions.” As it is currently written, reporting students could also be investigated for how much sexual contact they consented to before the assault.

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BYU launches sexual assault policy feedback website

May 19, 2016

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Brigham Young University launched a website for people to provide feedback on the school’s sexual assault policy, and is looking into revisions such as an amnesty clause that could give victims immunity from honor code violations committed in the lead-up to a sexual assault.

The Mormon-owned school launched the website Thursday, following the barrage of recent complaints over its practice of opening honor code investigations into students after they report being sexually assaulted.

The website is the first big change since BYU created an advisory council to examine its sexual assault policies a few weeks ago. The group is made up of four faculty members, including assistant nursing professor Julie Valentine.

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Report: Fewer sex assaults reported at BYU than many schools

May 12, 2016

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Students at Brigham Young University reported fewer on-campus sexual assaults than many other major Western universities over the past decade __ a finding that victims’ and others say could indicate a problem of under-reporting by people who are attacked.

The Mormon-owned school reported an average of about 1.5 sexual assaults for every 10,000 students a year from 2004 through 2014, the most recent data available, according to an analysis of U.S. Department of Education data by The Associated Press.

All but one of the universities in the Pac-12 conference reported a higher annual average, with many reporting more than twice the number at BYU, the analysis shows. The data only includes sexual assaults on campuses.

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Police criticize BYU investigations into sex assault victims

Apr. 29, 2016

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Several Utah police officials are joining in calls to change Brigham Young University’s practice of opening honor code investigations into students after they report being sexually assaulted, as more sexual assault victims reach out to police to say they have felt silenced by the policy.

The decision by three Provo police leaders to call for changes at the Mormon-owned school marks a significant development in the insular, predominantly Mormon community.

BYU has already launched a review of the practice, but officials there haven’t said yet if they’ll make changes.

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BYU students investigated by school after reporting rape

Apr. 20, 2016

PROVO, Utah (AP) — Madeline MacDonald says she was an 18-year-old freshman at Brigham Young University when she was sexually assaulted by a man she met on an online dating site.

She reported the crime to the school’s Title IX office. That same day, she says, BYU’s honor code office received a copy of the report, triggering an investigation into whether MacDonald had violated the Mormon school’s strict code of behavior, which bans premarital sex and drinking, among other things.

Now MacDonald is among many students and others, including a Utah prosecutor, who are questioning BYU’s practice of investigating accusers, saying it could discourage women from reporting sexual violence and hinder criminal cases.

Some have started an online petition drive calling on the university to give victims immunity from honor code violations committed in the lead-up to a sexual assault.

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Videos

Video

More than half of all U.S. states have legalized medical marijuana. But despite multiple legislative attempts and urging from a multitude of local patients, Utah has not. The decision has left some patients with no access to medicine that they say is a crucial treatment option. Ashley Rice is one of those patients. She has a genetic condition that causes frequent seizures.

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Neca Allgood is the president of Mama Dragons, a support group for mothers of LGBTQIA children, and the mother of a transgender son. But at the same time, she has also remained an active member of the Mormon Church, a faith whose doctrine or institutional policies appear to sometimes stand in opposition to her work for acceptance and support of her son and all members of the LGBTQ community.

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Massive waterfalls in Yosemite National Park and rivers raging in mountains throughout the western United States are thundering with greater force than they have for years — and proving deadly as warm weather melts the deepest mountain snowpack in recent memory.

Article and video by Hallie Golden and Scott Smith

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Some of the many protesters camped out in New York City for the Occupy Wall Street movement are far from new to the scene of social activism. In fact, they have been participating in rallies for over 50 years after protesting during the Vietnam War era. Now they’re back at it again.

Video by Hallie Golden

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Anayely Gomez has been living in New York since the age of three, but as one of the 3,200 undocumented college students in the U.S., she is struggling to get through college. Although she can attend college through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, affording the cost of higher education has been a struggle. Programs like the Tuition Assistance Program help students like Gomez afford a college education.

Video by Hallie Golden

Photos

About

Hallie Golden has spent the past two years working as a freelance journalist and contract reporter for The Associated Press in Utah. She covers state and federal politics and crime, and has written on such topics as U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s resignation, and a Utah judge who called a convicted rapist a ‘good man.’

She previously worked as an editorial fellow in Washington, D.C. for Atlantic Media’s Nextgov, where she spent a year investigating the federal government’s use and misuse of technology.

Golden graduated from Stony Brook University, with degrees in journalism and music. 

She has received awards for both her writing and photography, including a Robert and Rhoda Amon award for outstanding journalism.

Multimedia Skills

Computer: Final Cut Pro, Photoshop, Illustrator, WordPress Content Management System

Equipment: Nikon DSLR: D3000 and D7000, Canon video camerabasic CSS and HTML, Microsoft Excel

Now you see it, now you don’t (The Economist)

PLUTO, the ancient god of the underworld (pictured above), dealt with the dark and the dingy. Perhaps it is appropriate that a new email service allowing users to pull back murky messages from the depths of a recipient’s inbox bears his name.

Every email you send has the potential for permanence and repercussions. Whether it’s that raunchy picture you sent a partner before breaking up, or that email you mistakenly forwarded to your boss detailing what you hate about him, once an email is sent you lose all control. David Gobaud and Lindsay Lin, Harvard Law students, have spent months creating Pluto Mail—a free messaging service that aims to make such embarrassing events relics of the past.

It was released in beta on March 1st and gives users the ability not only to set self-destruct parameters for sent emails, but also edit those that have been sent already. Pluto Mail also allows authors to see when their message has been opened. Currently, the service has about 2,000 users and about as many on its wait-list. It allows just a few new recruits to join each day.

Although there have been past attempts at similar email programs, Pluto Mail has two advantages. It neither requires that users change their email service nor that email recipients have Pluto Mail accounts. This flexibility comes at a cost, however: it eliminated the possibility of Pluto Mail being able to completely delete sent emails.

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Reporting From Russia

Artistry Through Turbulence

More than 20 years after an epic struggle, he finds harmony in the same place: his paintings.

Aslangery Uyanayev was part of a group of artists who squatted at Pushkinskaya 10 in St. Petersburg, Russia, to demonstrate the power of art during a time of tyranny. Today, he lives in the same place, with scuffed floors beneath dried-out brushes, plastic dishes of muddy water and canvases covered with vivid, chaotic paint strokes.

In 1991, Uyanayev joined with other protesting painters, musicians and writers at the end of the communist era (when many artists and art forms were restricted). As the chaos of a transforming country grew around them, the group’s aim was to establish an independent cultural center. They ended up doing much more. The artists’ work, including many informal concerts and art shows, formed a type of protective buffer between them and the tumultuous times in which they lived.

“We moved into the house with the world collapsing around us,” said Uyanayev.

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Young Musician Bucks Russian Musical Culture

The 15-year-old’s frustrating memories of German class do not stem from grammar drills or vocabulary words, but from balloons.

The balloons were from all the celebrations that Olja Voronenko’s school held in lieu of class. All of the celebrations were held to kill time in a school that didn’t have enough classrooms for teaching.

These were no celebrations for Olja, an aspiring violinist. As her teachers sat up front, sipping tea, and the students around her relished the free period, she struggled silently. “I had a lot of unorganized lessons, so I always felt guilty that I couldn’t spend that time on the violin,” she said.

This shy resident of St. Petersburg, Russia, with the piercing gaze is trapped in a school system that is ill-equipped to accommodate, let alone nurture, creativity.

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