Thorns to government for spying on U.S. cell phone users

Saturday June 8, 2013

THORNS to the federal government for using our tax dollars to spy on cell phone users. A court order, disclosed Wednesday by The Guardian newspaper in Britain, requires that communications giant Verizon turn over records of all landline and mobile phone calls of customers within the U.S. and between the U.S. and other countries, according to an Associated Press report. There is reason to believe that other communications have similar orders from the program used by the FBI and the NSA in place. Defenders of the program, known as PRISM, say the data it collects may be saving the lives of Americans. We say it’s an egregious, unnecessary invasion of privacy.

ROSES to Gov. Peter Shumlin for signing a bill to extend the statute of limitations for sexual crimes committed against children. Such crimes now have a 40-year statute of limitations -- whereas before Monday’s signing ceremony, Vermont law allowed for prosecution of sexual assault, lewd and lascivious conduct and sexual exploitation of a minor within 10 years after the crimes were reported, or until a child turned 24. ROSES also to Bennington County Chief Deputy State’s Attorney Christina Rainville for being the driving force behind the legislation. THORNS to Bennington voters who failed to turn out for the last two Bennington School District budget votes. Your third -- and final -- chance to vote on the school district’s proposed budget will be this Tuesday, June 11, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the River Street fire house in Bennington. There’s only one question so it won’t take long to cast your vote!

ROSES to brothers Robert and Andrew Wolf of Bennington who stopped to help victims of a May 18 house fire on Silk Road. The brothers were on their way to the store when they noticeds a home along their route was ablaze. There the Good Samaritans discovered a woman and dog trapped inside and helped to get them both to safety. "We basically pulled her out of the house, through the window. And the dog," Robert Wolf told The Banner. "It’s surreal to actually think that you went up to a burning house that could have killed you." It takes a special kind of person to risk his life for a stranger. We commend these local men for their selfless acts of kindness.

ROSES to Vermont ski areas, which enjoyed their best season since 2001 this year. The ability to make snow early in the season coupled with plentiful natural snow and the weather affording skiing and boarding well into the spring (Killington only recently shut down its last run) helped to make the 2012-13 season a success. Ski visitors bring tourism dollars -- to the tune of $170 million in revenue -- for the state’s economy from the rooms and meals and sales taxes. They also bring revenue to businesses ranging from motels, stores and restaurants in the region.

ROSES to the Mount Anthony Union High School track and field team, which took home three titles at the Division I state championships last weekend at Burlington High School. MAU freshman Grace Page was the only freshman to win an individual state crown in the 400 meter championship. Junior Leniesha Williams won the girls 100 meter dash. Senior Marc Brandmeyer won the boys 3,000 meters. Many other MAU athletes also placed. Overall the girls team took third (their best showing since 2000) and the boys team took fifth place.

THORNS to the now defunct Jard Company, a Bowen Road, Bennington, manufacturer of capacitors, transformers and motors used in household appliances, which left behind toxic contaminants in the soil that are now hampering a local Little League’s dream of playing under lights. Bennington Little League President Geoffrey Metcalfe told the Banner that the league hoped to soon install a $60,000 lighting system that would allow 285 kids in the league to experience playing night games. But the field is adjacent to land formerly owned by Jard that is atop groundwater possibly contaminated by polychlorinated biphenyl -- better known as PCBs. To make the ball field safe, it must be tested before the light poles can be installed, and the testing could run the club several thousand more dollars. Metcalfe said he hopes to draw donations to offset the added costs.

~Michelle Karas


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