homeland security

Rabid Bats and the Bieber Fever: The News Week in Review

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Everyone loves a good bat. Especially if that bat is a man named Christian Bale in Christopher Nolan’s Batman series. But there is another bat that people love less—the bat that the Benton County Health Department warned people about this last week. “The Benton County Health Department wants you to be aware that a bat there tested positive for rabies. Health workers say make sure your pets are vaccinated against the disease and don’t handle bats with bare hands.” [1]

You know, because most of us cannot wait to handle rabid creatures with bare hands.

But while you should not handle rabies-infected animals with your bare hands, you can handle food with them. “The Oregon Health Authority has backed off a proposed rule that would have forbidden restaurant employees from handling food with their bare hands. Oregon Public Broadcasting reports the agency will instead convene a work group on standards to prevent food-borne illness.” [2]

On the subject of illness: An Oregon woman no longer has Bieber fever. She now has Bieber hearing impairment. “An Oregon woman has filed a $9.2 million lawsuit against pop star Justin Bieber, alleging she suffered permanent hearing loss at his Portland concert two years ago. Stacey Wilson Betts of Wilsonville filed the suit Thursday in U.S. District Court. It states that Betts suffered the injury when Bieber climbed into a heart-shaped gondola and was pulled over the crowd. Bieber enticed the fans into a ‘frenzy of screams,’ and the sound exceeded safe decibel levels.” [3]

Screaming frenzies also led to a situation in Portland, though this time the screamers were younger. “TriMet says a bus driver who twice refused service to women with crying children has retired rather than be fired. Claudeen Hendren ordered a woman and her four children off her bus in Forest Grove last month after a fare dispute led to tears. A police officer who tried to calm the situation said Hendren told him she did [not] want people who were crying on her bus.” [4]

In the same way that Hendren did not want crying children on her bus, Homeland Security did not want Occupy Eugene on their federal property anymore. “Officers from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security showed up this evening at the Occupy Eugene outpost at the Federal Building at East Seventh Avenue and Pearl Street. Putting a perimeter around the area with yellow tape marked ‘Police Line — Do Not Cross,’ officers ordered protestors to leave the space. When one protestor refused to vacate the premises, Homeland Security officers prepared to make an arrest.” [5]

Homeland Security did not make the only arrest this week, though. The Eugene Police Department also jumped in, making “an arrest in the 4J computer crime case…a 16-year-old male from North Eugene was arrested for this security breach. The police served a search warrant and charged the teenager with one count of Computer Crime. Investigators are still looking into the case after collecting evidence from his home.” [6]

That arrest will surely come as a relief to many parents in the 4J district. Another relief this week came to Dexter Lake residents: “Lane County health officials say they have finished testing 11 water wells [at Dexter] and the results show that the water in them is safe. Employees of the Dexter Sanitary District and some former board members have said they were worried about leaking sewer lines’ proximity to residents’ wells, particularly in light of heavy storms this spring that sent large amounts of water into the sewer system.” [7]

We all know, of course, that a sewage system overflow is not good for tourism. But did you know that the Simpsons, on the other hand, are? “A life-size replica of the entire Simpsons cartoon family has been on display in front of Sweety’s Frozen Yogurt for the past several weeks.  The shop’s owner Jack Koehler says the installation has brought in so much business, he wants to create a ‘Simpsonville’ in downtown Springfield…By embracing the Simpsons’ fame, Koehler says Springfield could bring in a lot more tourism dollars.” [8]

Fame, most agree, is generally good. Unless that fame comes from blowing yourself up by smoking a cigarette. “A Eugene woman suffered serious burns to her face Friday after smoking near a medical oxygen system in her home, a Eugene Fire Department report said…Medical oxygen used to aid breathing is nearly pure oxygen, which is highly flammable, said Deputy Fire Marshal Amy Linder of the Eugene Fire Department.” [9]

While that explosion was not anticipated, an explosion all of us in Eugene anticipate each year is the upcoming Duck football season. And “despite a relatively easy start to the season, the Ducks face tests against USC, California, and Washington that should truly define [what] the program is. While USC is the top program Oregon will face this year, Cal and Washington must not be overlooked by the Ducks nor their fans, for you can be rest assured that both those teams will be gunning for Oregon.” [10]

Just don’t gun too hard, other teams. We have rabid bats. And bubonic cats. [11]

Just saying.

Homeland Security shuts down Occupy Eugene outpost

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Officers from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security showed up this evening at the Occupy Eugene outpost at the Federal Building at East Seventh Avenue and Pearl Street.

Officers from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security showed up this evening at the Occupy Eugene outpost at the Federal Building at East Seventh Avenue and Pearl Street. Putting a perimeter around the area with yellow tape marked “Police Line — Do Not Cross,” officers ordered protestors to leave the space. When one protestor refused to vacate the premises, Homeland Security officers prepared to make an arrest.

In May this year, the federal General Services Administration granted Occupy Eugene a 60-day permit to set up a 24-hour-a-day protest site on the plaza. That permit expired 10 days ago. When Occupy Eugene applied to extend their permit, they were told there would be a stipulation. Mary, one of the organizers of the outpost, says,

We were told they wouldn’t give us another permit unless we vacated the site at night time. We were only going to be permitted to be there from 7 am through 11 pm.  Our constitutional rights do not disappear when it is dark.”

When asked to leave this evening, all but one complied. A woman —
named “brave Beatrice” by the other protestors — refused to leave.

Mary said Occupy Eugene does not believe it needs to have a permit.

“GSA says it is necessary to have a permit to protest in front of this building. Why is it necessary? People have been here for years for all sorts of protests. They have never needed permits.”

Vicki, another protestor, said that Occupy Eugene has contacted both Oregon Representative Peter DeFazio and Oregon Senator Ron Wyden.

“We’re asking DeFazio and Wyden if this order is coming from the federal government and why. Why is the federal government shutting down local protests?”

The answer, according to the officials with the U.S. General Services Administration, is simple: Occupy Eugene no longer has permission to carry out a nonstop outpost at the federal building area. Both yesterday and today, GSA representatives went to the outpost to inform protesters they could no longer have nonstop demonstrations.

GSA official Chaun Benjamin said,

“I will ask Federal Protective Services to get involved for law enforcement activity,” if the protestors did not leave today by 3 pm.

A crowd gathered to watch Homeland Security officers rope off the area outside the federal building.

When asked to leave this evening, all but one complied. A woman — named “brave Beatrice” by the other protestors — refused to leave.

Officers talked privately to the woman, allegedly trying to convince her to leave the space peacefully. While some protestors shouted loudly at the officers from the other side of the yellow tape, others told them to be quiet—the officers would not make an arrest, they said, unless the crowd calmed down.

Mary says that the arrest needs to be made.

We’re looking to make a constitutional objection to the arrest. We need to take this local issue national and make our voice heard—that the federal government cannot dictate when and how people can protest their government.”

Occupy Eugene’s local attorney, Lauren Regan, has already said they plan to challenge the constitutionality of any arrests made today.

An officer for Homeland Security said the procedures were simple and matter-of-fact:

“The woman in question is failing to comply with lawful direction. It’s a Class C misdemeanor.”

Officers ended up arresting “Beatrice,” whose real name is Emily Semple. Semple is a 58-year-old Eugene resident.