Occupy Wall Street without being pepper sprayed

Occupy Wall Street without being pepper sprayed

Most of us have seen the infamous video of protestors being pepper sprayed at UC Davis without cause by officers on campus. Appalling. Maybe the officers love control and were on a power trip. Maybe they were instructed by their higher ups. Maybe, like most of us working, struggling Americans, they are sick of watching people ask for handouts and got fed up.

<Pause to let you curse at me>

I don’t condone the actions of those officers. What they did was wrong. In other recent and more local (to Utah) pepper spray incidents, I haven’t agreed with the police actions but also think people should evaluate the inappropriate conduct of those that were pepper sprayed that led to police pepper spraying them in the first place. However, in the college campus Occupier incident, it appeared to me, as I watched the video, that this pepper spray incident was completely unwarranted.

Here is where I, and many others are struggling: an unemployed, poor community does not help our society. An uneducated society affects us all. The family down the street who cannot feed their children is not only heartbreaking, but also hurts the community as a whole. (If I need to pull up some data to show you, I will. Or you can Google it.) We want a thriving a community that is healthy, employed and not starving. Not to mention that my heart and conscience cannot watch a child go hungry. However, as a single mother working two jobs (down from three), taking money from one to pay for another is also not right.

Those who are working to feed their families, paying their taxes and keeping their jobs are fed up feeling like 50 percent or more of their hard-earned income is going to undeclared wars, parents who spend money on alcohol or drugs instead of food for their kids and foreign aid to countries that hate us.

The majority of us are not the 1 percent, but we’re not the 99 percent either; though we might be soon as the middle class is fading away.

So I agree with you Occupiers on many things. Despite your lack of organization, your unclear demands (which makes you sound more like terrorists) and your frustrating protesting tactics that hurt the general population far more than it hurts the supposed 1 percent, I actually agree with some of your points.

The big banks, the corporations, the greedy bastards who took our taxpayer money and bailed out the failing corporations (that’s the politicians we elected if you were wondering) have me so angry that I want to occupy a Senator’s office – not a park or a bridge.

We have some decent politicians taking office trying to turn things around, and then they are blasted as “not electable” or “crazy.” But then we Americans complain about the injustice of how much money the corrupt ones take in fundraising efforts, we complain about their morals (how the heck is Newt Gingrinch doing so well in the polls?) and we complain about them taking our money to bail out corporations that should have failed. And then we re-elect them. (Again on Newt)

I’m fed up. I am. And here is what I’m going to do about it – I’m going to hit them where it hurts.

I’m going to live within my means.

I’m not going to use credit cards.

I’m not going to get a mortgage I cannot afford.

I’m not going to overdraft my bank and incur fees.

I’m going to use credit unions so that banks like Bank of America that charge enormous fees and kick hardworking people out of their homes will not collect more money.

I’m going to look into a community garden and make friends with my neighbors.

I’m going to go debt-free as soon as I possibly can so I don’t owe the government or their greedy corporate friends any money as they tack on more fees and higher interest rates.

I’m going to shop at businesses that donate to local programs, such as our local high school.

And while it may not solve the problem quickly, I’m hoping that the less money they take from us, they will slowly go out of business.

And then I’m going to keep on eye on my government just as they are keeping an eye on us. Did you know the Senate just passed a bill that allows them to detain American citizens indefinitely? Senator Mike Lee of Utah opposed it. But it still passed. Our government, the people we elected to do the right thing, is willing to label you a terrorist with no proof and hold you indefinitely without a trial. Sounds pretty unconstitutional to me. Why aren’t more citizens appalled over this? Why aren’t we calling out those who voted “yes” and doing everything in our power to remove them from office?

Stand on a bridge if you want to, occupy a park and use taxpayer-paid police resources (which you are pulling away from responding to real and dangerous crimes) if that’s what makes you feel better.

Or do something that counts.

I gave you a list of ideas, share some of yours.


Posted by on December 4, 2011 in Politics


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Letters from Steve Jobs

Photo courtesy of Forbes

Being an Apple fan – I mean a MAJOR Apple fan (thanks to work, friends and Christmas presents I am proud to be using a MacBook Pro, iMac, iPhone 4, itouch, a few ipods lying around, but no iPad yet or iPhone 4S. My dream is to actually own them all one day.) – I find it entertaining when listeners would call the radio show and talk about how ruthless Steve Jobs was.

Now, those same anti-Apple/Jobs listeners can see a rare and sensitive side of Jobs, and more ruthlessness from him, too.

CNN tech writer Mark Milian has compiled many emails between Jobs and his consumers, or consumers of AT&T. You can purchase the book, Letters to Steve: Inside the E-mail Inbox of Apple’s Steve Jobs, on Amazon for only $2.99.

It’s Apple related, so I just bought mine.

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Posted by on November 22, 2011 in Social Media & Business


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Dear Congress: America is disgusted with you

Today the Super Committee admitted failure. President Obama then addressed the nation saying he will veto the automatic cuts that would take place in 2013 if the Super Committee failed, and gave the Super Committee double the time they’ve already had to try again.

My boyfriend is a Democrat. I’m a Republican. Here is something we agree on: America is disgusted with Congress and the President as a whole.

What was the point of having a Super Committee? What was the point of voting for the debt ceiling if the President is just going to veto the automatic cuts anyway? WHAT’S THE POINT IN ELECTIONS IF OUR ELECTED OFFICIALS DO WHAT THEY WANT WHEN THEY GO TO D.C. ANYWAY?

Sorry, I, too, am disgusted with Congress.

My boyfriend is angry because both Democrats and Republicans are wrong. Democrats want to protect the poor and Republicans want to protect the rich. Tonight he says to me: they want to know who’s to blame? Send them to my town and I’ll show them they both are. In the meantime, it’s the middle class that’s paying for it and soon there won’t be a middle class left.

Now keeping in mind that he is a supporter of welfare programs (I said he was a Democrat) because he would rather error on the side of caution and help the hard working person who found himself or herself in trouble. He has seen the good that can come from giving someone a helping hand. And sometimes that means you inadvertently help the drug user.

We agree that welfare programs can be beneficial (look at the way the LDS church handles welfare). We don’t want a society of homeless children starving on the streets. But neither of us want the middle class to pay for those who simply refuse to get a job or live off welfare because they make more money on welfare than by getting a job. We both agree that the welfare system needs a serious overhaul and those on welfare should be out working off what they are given.

In a five-minute conversation, we were able to address what the Super Committee couldn’t do in six months. We agreed that fighting in multiple undeclared wars was contributing to the bankruptcy of our country. We agreed that our national guard was created to protect our borders from within and should not be sent overseas.

“Send them home to their families,” he said.

“Pull us out of one undeclared war and there’s 1.2 trillion in less than 10 years saved,” I said.

“Give me 12 random people from across the country and we can do in a day what the Super Committee didn’t do in six months,” he said.

And I think he’s right. Congress spends so much time blaming each other, they aren’t getting anything done. Even Obama had to place the blame on the GOP during his 3-minute speech today.

So here is my contribution to complete what the Super Committee did not:

– Put a time cap on welfare programs and don’t extend them. When they know their money is going to run out, they will get a job.
– Take us out of three undeclared wars and bring our troops home.
– Close the tax loops on the wealthy and big corporations, or just start making them pay the taxes the rest of us pay.

What are your thoughts? You tell Congress how we can handle this 1.2 trillion, and maybe another couple trillion after that.

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Posted by on November 21, 2011 in Politics


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What we can take away from Penn State, child sex abuse cases

A few years ago I was sitting in a temple prep class (it’s a Mormon thing) when the man giving the lesson told us the story of his childhood. He had been raped and sexually abused. At the end of his story he told the small group that when he walks into a room and speaks to people, he can tell which of the others in the group had also been sexually abused as a child.

I felt like he was looking right at me.

Maybe he knew, maybe he didn’t. I don’t know that I’ve really kept it a secret the last few years, but I’ve never publically announced it. I’m getting ready to, however. Not because I feel like I’ve been holding this deep dark secret, but because I feel like my story helps others.

The recent news of football coaches and other authorities at Penn State covering up, or covering their eyes, to child rape and sex abuse has others coming out to tell their stories.

(And just because I really need to throw my opinion in here: I think the focus should be on Mike McQueary and not Joe Paterno, who should never hold a position of authority again. How he could WATCH a child being raped and not immediately stop it. To make matters worse, he waited till the next day to tell anyone, and it wasn’t even the police. I don’t care what the laws say or how terrified the man was of losing his job – he is one of the many people responsible for allowing child sex abuse to continue. Every person involved should feel ashamed and disgusted with himself or herself. There is nothing more precious in this world than our children. If you allow them to be abused by monsters, realize how you are shaping our future. And I hope Sandusky rots in hell.)

In light of the news, Goldie Taylor decided to tell her story on CNN of how she was raped by a teacher at her high school. She had never said it publicly. Based on her comments, I feel that she may have been ashamed and felt guilty for what had happened to her. I sympathize with her completely. I’ve been there.

But I don’t fully agree with everything she said last night.

goldie taylor tells her story

I was sexually abused as a child. In a book I am writing about the dangers of allowing children to come in contact with pornography, I open with my story. It’s a story that may greatly upset those close to me and those who always wondered what skeletons I was hiding in my closet. Don’t we all have them?

But I have learned from sharing my story with individuals, that it brings them a sense of hope. I am not victim. I am not a survivor. I am a warrior. I can choose to “cope” or I can forge ahead passionately and make something incredible of my life.

I made mistakes, lots of them, as a young adult dealing with the pain of being abused as a child. But I chose to leave it behind me. In fact, after counseling, I no longer feel that aching pain inside when I think of the things that happened to me. I don’t feel sorry for myself. I feel sorry for my abusers.

I chose to forgive them for their choices, and I chose to forgive myself for the mistakes I made afterward. It has made me stronger. It has made me a fighter. It has made me a better and more alert parent.

Maybe there are days when I see the childlike Jennifer pushing through, making me scared and vulnerable. And I embrace that part of me because it makes me human, realistic and more willing to accept faults in others.

I still make mistakes. I’m still untrusting in relationships. Some days I am still afraid to let a man get too close. But I control my future. No one holds me back except myself. And that I have full control over. I strive every day to be a better person, mother and worker.

You can, too. Don’t let someone else’s mistakes hold you back.


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Penn State: It’s all about football

Penn State and Joe Paterno

Photo Courtesy of The Sports Net

This is a guest post from my good friend Jason Smith who is a husband, father and advocate of freedom and truth. He resides in Hurricane, Utah. This was meant as an opinion piece for St. George News, which is currently being updated and will be posted on that site soon, as well.

Yesterday, Penn State played a game without Joe Paterno on the sidelines for the first time in over 40 years; and lost.

Players from both teams knelt in prayer before the game.  Over 107,903 fans (the largest of the year) packed the stadium and cheered for Penn State University, the football team, and for Joe Paterno’s legacy.

But what about the victims?

Somewhere there are at least eight boys (young men now) who lost their innocence, and in some ways their lives, amid the roar of those 107,903 fans, Penn State University, and the legacy of Joe Paterno.

There should never have been a game.

The football field should have had eight white roses on the 50-yard line in a completely empty stadium.

We saw players and fans talking about Joe Paterno, many wearing shirts in support of “JoePa”. We saw teary-eyed coaches speak of the man and his legacy.

But who will speak for the victims?

All I can think about is eight boys who will never watch a Penn State football game – because they can’t and they won’t. All I can think about is a living-hell locker room that at least two boys lived through and will never forget.

Penn State’s new president said the following: “We wanted to demonstrate, not just in the Penn State community but to rest of world, that Penn State is a caring community”  – Translation: “We wanted to demonstrate to the rest of the world, that Penn State is all about football- that’s why we played today” 

Yesterday Penn State played a football game after at least three key members of the coaching staff, and a minimum of three high-level administrators covered up child rapes.

Yesterday Penn State showed the world what is important to Penn State – a winning football team.

Ironically, having a winning football team at all costs is why eight boys will struggle with depression, anger, hatred and dysfunction for their entire lives.

Yesterday Penn State played a football game while eight young men are struggling to understand why football and the power that comes with it are more important than their innocence and lives.

Yesterday Penn State continued the cycle of abuse.



Posted by on November 13, 2011 in Family, Relationships & Personal Growth


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What print news can learn from social media geeks

print newspapers are not dying

The day printed newspapers were created, they’ve been dying. Beginning in the early 1700s, newspapers in America began competing with each other. Often one newspaper would be circulated in the morning and the competitor would circulate evening news.

Later, newspapers would compete with radio and then with television. Nightly news anchors would deliver the day’s news before newspapers would be circulated the next morning.

Printed newspapers have never been able to keep up with breaking news. But they were still one of the most trusted places to get your news. And because of this, newspapers never learned how to adapt.

Fifteen years ago, many of us in journalism were giving up our pica poles, floppy disks and proportion wheels. Digital media was beginning to rear its ugly head and “The Internet” became a dirty word.

There are journalists and publishers who cannot accept the fact that the Internet has became today’s medium for breaking, local and national news. In fact, many small business owners are still struggling with how to use the Internet to advertise their company.

Those newspapers have gone out of print or are close to doing so.

What many old-school publishers don’t realize is that there is still a place for journalists in today’s digital media. Recent college graduates can tell you the convergence of all types of mediums are necessary in order to keep journalism alive. Today, reporters must know how to write copy for print, television and radio. YouTube and Facebook have become some of the best tools for newspapers that give breaking news online.

The trick to keeping newspapers alive is to realize two things: the Internet is not your enemy and your reporter is your brand.

The Internet has given us a way to update our readers instantly when there is a traffic accident they should avoid or when a flood is imminent.  Our Internet readers are looking for quick updates and breaking news, and that’s what we give them.

Print newspapers give reporters the chance to go in-depth and talk about upcoming news.  This works well for those who want to sit down and put some thought into the story. Print newspapers are still key when it comes to informative news and great photo layout. Print newspapers still drive the most consumers to local businesses when marketed correctly. (As a side note, there is a trick to keeping readers without making them pay for your online content. Unless you’re as big as the New York Times, paywalls are a very bad idea for print newspapers.)

Social media gives readers the chance to become part of the story and interact with reporters in a way they never could before.

In the early days of the Internet when newspapers began going online and readers were able to comment on stories, editors made it clear that reporters were never allowed to respond to reader’s comments. Doing so was a clear violation of most newspaper’s policies. You were allowed only to correct a fact or error; you were not allowed to have an opinion.

That, however, is not what readers have asked for. Yes, they want unbiased news, but they want it from a real person they can trust.

Roland Martin has over 90,000 Facebook followers and nearly 80,000 Twitter followers. He’s an analyst for TV One and CNN. Roland has learned that he IS the brand. Those who follow Roland trust him not just because of his intelligence and political know-how, but also because they can connect with him and ask him questions. You may be halfway across the world and know zero about politics, but ask him a question on Twitter and he just might answer you. Plus, it is harder to swear at him when you disagree with his politics because he often uses a profile picture of a child – presumably his own.

Prior to social media, the brand was the newspaper, radio show or TV station. Now you find reporters personal Twitter accounts at the bottom of their articles. The brand is the reporter, talk show host or news anchor.

Print newspapers, radio and television will always have their place. But unless publishers learn to use the Internet and social media as an additional tool for reporting, they will soon find themselves irrelevant in today’s changing world.

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Posted by on November 11, 2011 in In Jen's Opinion


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Real answers for helping children who are being bullied at school

Real answers for helping children who are being bullied at school

I’ve done stories in the past about how to prevent bullying and what children, parents and school officials can do when a child is being bullied. Some of the answers from experts and parents were pretty helpful, and many times experts and parents didn’t agree. One expert said “don’t fight back.” A parent said “put your child in karate.”

I guess it depends on your situation and your child’s personality. But the other day I had to have this discussion with a child who was facing a real bully at school. The tension between the two boys had been escalating over a few weeks but one day the bully took physical action. The child being bullied, who was now angry and upset, didn’t know what to do. He wanted the bully to be stopped and he wanted the bully to get in trouble, but he didn’t want to tattle tale and get abused further by the bully.

The child approached his teacher and asked if he could go to the principal’s office. The teacher asked why. The child, not knowing the teacher well and not sure that he was all that comfortable with her simply said, I’ll tell you later.

Once in the principal’s office, the child was able to talk about the bullying. He talked about the events leading up to the physical altercation. He admitted that he wasn’t completely blameless. When the bully called him names, he called the bully names right back – mostly out of fear that if he didn’t stand up for himself the bullying would get worse.

The principal called the bully into the office and the two boys talked it out. The principal asked the child what type of punishment the bully should receive, in which the child said, “We talked it out so let’s give him another chance.” The principal then had a discussion with both boys and discovered other things going on in the school that needed to be addressed.

This being the first class of the day, the child finished out the school day, buried himself in his DSI on the school bus home (despite being teased for not having friends), and made it home from the bus stop to his house.

Then he saw his mom and he broke down. He had stayed strong all day long and when he found the person he trusted the most, in the comfort of his home, he cried and got angry. He yelled and did all the things any victim does once they feel safe.

His mom, initially angry that her child came home and began yelling at her, realized his actions were a result of something else, and did not discipline the child for acting out. She waited. The child said there had been problems at school and went to his room to calm down.

At this point, mom was pretty nervous. She knew there had been issues with one particular boy at school but she didn’t know what to do. She began searching online and found a website that helped her. When her son returned to the room, she followed it step by step. She recognized the warning signs and then gently asked about what had happened at school. She stayed calm and learned as much about the situation as she could. She promised her son they would handle it together. She worked out scenarios with her son about what he could at school when the bullying happens.

Then she called the principal and the teacher. The mom let the principal speak first, at which he immediately acknowledged that he should have called her prior to now. The principal apologized for asking her son what consequence the bully should receive in front of her son. He apologized for allowing a child to make an adult decision and assured her there are policies in place for this type of situation. He promised the mom that he would follow those procedures the next day.

Mom informed the principal that certain behavior is not to be tolerated and she would not tolerate the school being lenient on bullies. She then spoke with the teacher and explained why her son wasn’t comfortable going to anyone to discuss the bullying. Mom then set up a meeting with the teacher and her son so they could discuss why his grades in that class were not as good as they used to be.

Mom is now following up with her son and the school to ensure there are no further problems. The principal did take action against the bully. Mom is hopeful that the bullying will stop, but she cannot guarantee it.

Had mom not accessed that site, she may have instead gotten angry with her son just as he finally felt comfortable letting out his emotions. Upon learning the truth, she would have called the bullies parents herself and possibly caused further problems for her son.

It is hard to know what to do in difficult situations, but the steps outlined on the site were an answer she needed immediately. Early intervention can prevent depression and low self-esteem. Children are too young to handle these things on their own and they need to know that their parents are there for them. In some cases, more will need to be done and other professionals may need to get involved.

For this mom, she now believes the next step is to help her son improve his self-esteem. For him, that just may mean enrolling him in karate.



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Posted by on November 1, 2011 in Family


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