Month February 2013


Judge of Dark Knight Shooting Case Pushes for Fox News Reporter Subpoena

Overseeing judge in the Dark Knight Rises shooting allows for a motion to subpoena Jana Winter over an article she wrote in regards to the case. Photo Credit: Lawren Chandler

Overseeing judge in the Dark Knight Rises shooting allows for a motion to subpoena Jana Winter over an article she wrote in regards to the case. Photo Credit: Lawren Chandler

In the case against the accused shooter James Holmes, of the Colorado Dark Knight Rises shooting in July 2012, the judge overseeing the case subpoenaed a New York Fox News reporter to appear in court over an article she wrote in regards to the case.

Holmes’ attorneys requested the reporter, Jana Winter, to appear in a February 4 hearing to question her about the sources of her story and ask her to share her notes with the court.

Fox News reporter, Winter, would not be legally required to attend the hearing unless a New York judge also wants her to appear in court. Additionally, Holmes’ attorneys said they would pay for her travel costs as a complimentary service.

What compelled Holmes’ attorneys to summon Winter in court was the fact that she wrote an article providing information on Holmes’ activity with his psychiatrist. According to the Denver Post, “Winter wrote a story in July about a notebook Holmes sent to his psychiatrist at the University of Colorado. Winter, citing two unnamed law-enforcement sources, reported that the notebook contained violent drawings and details about a murderous plot.”

Photo Credit: Lawren Chadler

According to the Denver Post, Winter reported on a mysterious notebook from Holmes that may have contained “violent drawings and details about a murderous plot.”
Photo Credit: Lawren Chadler

In a motion requesting a judges approval convincing Winter’s appearance in court, Holmes’ attorneys wrote, “Identifying the law enforcement sources who leaked this information to the media is an issue of serious and material importance to the case.”

Prosecutors later determined that there was no official proof that law enforcement officials were actually responsible for the leak of information.

The Denver Post also said that Holmes was charged with “166 counts of murder, attempted murder and other crimes for the July 20 attack that left 12 dead and 58 more wounded by gunfire. According to a source who spoke to The Denver Post on condition of anonymity, Holmes told his psychiatrist that he fantasized about killing “a lot of people.”

Jana Winter reported viable information gathered from an unknown source.
Photo Credit: Lawren Chandler

Brandon Williams, a soon to be graduate of Full Sail University’s Show Production bachelor program stated, “I agree with Winter wanting to protect her source for their confidentiality rights.”

Williams went on to say, “But from the outside looking in, Winter could also be lying about having a source that was a law enforcement official. How do we know what is the truth?”

The Federal Government & Electronic Eavesdropping: Are you protected?


Integrated microcircuits in radio transmitters can be as thin as a playing card to be inserted into wallpaper and cardboard.
Photo Credit: Lawren Chandler

Through the advancements in technology, the federal government has more access than ever to our personal conversations on a daily basis, by way of wiretapping and electronic eavesdropping.

 So what exactly is wiretapping and electronic eavesdropping? This may be a question you ask yourself. According to, Wiretapping is “an act or instance of tapping telephone or telegraph wires for evidence or other information.” Electronic eavesdropping is “the use of an electronic transmitting or recording device to monitor conversations without the consent of the parties,” according to the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.

Let there be no mistake that about the history of this type of surveillance tactic, as this is not a new practice. For decades, government officials have employed this tactic to gain insight and information, normally involving criminal activity. In the new age, technological advancements have made monitoring much easier to do.

Imagine a transmitter as thin as a playing card picking up every word of your conversation. According to, modern day developments in surveillance software have led to many innovative techniques for electronic eavesdropping. “Radio transmitters with integrated microcircuits have been made small enough to permit their insertion into bits of cardboard or behind wallpaper.”

I came across a quote from the EFF’s (Electronic Frontier Foundation) Surveillance Self-Defense project. It states: “wiretapping is legally difficult for the government: it must obtain a hard-to-get intercept order or “super-warrant” from a court, subject to strict oversight and variety of strong privacy protections. However, wiretapping is typically very technically easy for the government.”

“Anyone within range of your wireless signal can intercept your wireless Internet communications.”
Photo Credit: Lawren Chandler

Typically, federal law enforcement officials must obtain “probable cause” of illegal activity and a court order before being able to tap telephone lines. Court orders allowing wiretapping must limit the surveillance to a specific time period, normally 30—40 days. Additionally, surveillance should be limited to communications involving the unlawful activity.

So this means anyone within range of your wireless signal can intercept your wireless Internet communications. The EFF also touches on everyday cell phone communications. “Similarly, practically anyone within range of your cell phone’s radio signal, including the government, can — with a few hundred bucks to buy the right equipment — eavesdrop on your cell phone conversations.”

Aleshia Highland, 2011 Communications Bachelor of Arts alumni of Virginia State University, commented on the virtual lack of privacy in today’s world. “If the government is doing it then everyone else is doing it too. There’s really nothing we can do about it.”

When asked how she felt about federal officials intercepting without legal consent, Highland stated, “its an invasion of privacy, its what everyone is supposed to be entitled to. If they can’t get the information they need, then they are not doing they’re job. That’s the whole purpose.”

"I know I paid my bill last month!..."

BART Pulls the Plug on Wireless Service For Hours

BART Pulls the Plug on Wireless Service For Hours: Backlash hits BART as free speech violation

Cutting the power to several wireless towers, Bay Area Rapid Transit officials (BART) shut down underground service in an attempt to prevent a possible protest from ever occurring.

Days after the fire of the incident on Thursday, August 11, 2011, BART received backlash towards their actions as many feel they crossed the line of freedom of speech and expression. In several San Francisco transit stations, thousands were without any type of communication to the outside world.

"I know I paid my bill last month!..."

“I know I paid my bill last month!…”

The idea of protest had arisen as a result of the shooting-death of Charles Hill, 45, by BART police on July 3, 2011. According to BART officials, Hill was a homeless man that that attacked police in a drunken rage.

BART police say that protestors were organizing the protest around rush hour, just like the protest of July 11, 2011, which led to various arrests and the temporary closing of Civic Center station. Officials acquired this information of the organized protest through an active website.

The outrage of BART police’s actions was covered in a span across the world, even all the way to the Middle East’s Al Jazeera. According to CBS San Francisco, “A number of articles and comments drew comparisons to Egypt’s deposed President Hosni Mubarek, who cut Internet and cellphone services in the country for days during protests earlier this year that ultimately drove him from office.”

Lynette Sweet, a member of BART’s board of directors, said that she was appalled at this incident. “I’m just shocked that they didn’t think about the implications of this. We really don’t have the right to be this type of censor.” Sweet continued, “In my opinion, we’ve let the actions of a few people affect everybody. And that’s not fair.”

Interviewing with the Associated Press, Sweet stated, “It was almost like an afterthought.” Referring to the fact that BART board members found out about this plan of action less than three hours before the protest was scheduled to begin. Sweet continued to say, “This is a land of free speech and for us to think we can do that shows we’ve grown well beyond the business of what we’re supposed to be doing and that’s providing transportation. Not censorship.”

The discussion of the incident was so popular on Twitter that many users took advantage of trending the hashtag “muBARTek.” On August 19, 2011, The San Francisco Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) tweeted, “BART asks riders to make a false choice between communication & safety. We don’t buy it & neither should you. #MuBARTek.”

The EFF released an earlier statement on their website saying, “BART officials are showing themselves to be of a mind with the former president of Egypt,” referring to the Mubarek wireless shutdown scandal.

Jim Allison, a spokesman of BART, attempted to defend the agency. According to CBS San Francisco, Allison said that the “cellphone disruptions were legal as the agency owns the property and infrastructure.”

Althea Kirkland, a registered nurse of 20+ years, shared her opinion on the outrage of this issue. She said, “We as people and citizens have a right to know what’s going. It goes against everything that we have been taught about the Constitution.” Kirkland continued on to say, “They are interfering with freedom of speech. They could have monitored the protest or taken other actions like using barricades. You’re jeopardizing the freedom of other people not involved in the protest.”

"Overcoming All Obstacles"

Featured Profile: Erica Baker: Overcoming All Obstacles

Feature Profile: Erica Baker: Overcoming All Obstacles

"Overcoming All Obstacles"

“…Sometimes women will lose themselves over a man. But, I feel we are worth so much more than that.” –Erica Baker 2013.



We all have that special something. That little glimmer of hope that shines inside of us. When it’s the right time to use it, we just know. Basic instinct calls on the terms of nature, casting that gut feeling inside our minds. For a person that has a story inspiring hope, Erica Baker, has been chosen for my profile spotlight this week.

Born on September 24, 1989, Erica Baker originated in Nashville, TN. Soon after being born, her parents up and moved to a small town 30 miles north of Nashville, in Springfield, TN. In 1999, Baker and family moved to Atlanta, GA and lived there for the rest of her childhood.

Looking back on high school, Baker describes herself as somewhat of an outcast. “I was a cheerleader for ninth, tenth and twelfth grade, but I wasn’t your typical mean girl cheerleader,” she says. “I had some very hurtful things happen to me.” Baker proceeded to share an encounter with me that occurred between her and fellow cheerleader bullies. Feeling that Baker did not fit enough with the mold, they excluded her from everything. The cheerleader bullies were so undone by Baker, they cold-heartedly persuaded the head coach not to choose her to be on the cheerleading squad in her eleventh grade year. Baker recalls how the bullying affected her. “It made me feel terrible; I had cheered on the team longer than some of members and I was tired of being picked on. But it made me a stronger person,” she said.

After high school life was over, in 2007, at only 17 years old, Baker traveled from Atlanta, GA to Tallahassee, FL. She was determined to attend Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU or Florida A&M), majoring in Broadcast Journalism with a minor in Spanish. Baker spoke of her decision to go to this highly praised HBCU (Historically Black College or University). “HBCUs have been a huge part of my family,” she stated. “Everyone in my family attended Tennessee State University (TSU) in Nashville. However, I did not want to go to Nashville. I love Florida so I chose to go to the largest HBCU in the nation—FAMU in Tallahassee, FL. FAMU is a rival to TSU. Some of my family members were not happy that I chose to go there.” However, her family was all the more excited when Baker graduated from FAMU in 2011, with the highest honors, Summa Cum Laude.

Like many, before graduating with honors, for Baker it was a struggle to get there. Baker shared with me one of her most personal, exclusive stories that entails the emotional and physical abuse from an ex-boyfriend she met while attending FAMU. Baker recalls the vicious memories of this dark corner in her life. “I was raped by a member of a black fraternity,” she declares. She continues to say that her boyfriend at the time, also in a black fraternity, heard from his friend, a member of yet another black fraternity, about the incident before she had the chance to tell him. Unfortunately, Baker’s boyfriend did not believe that she was raped, from word of his friend and merely thought she cheated on him. This is where she says the emotional abuse began.

Baker remembers the details of these hurtful actions from her now ex-boyfriend. She said, “I would cook breakfast, lunch and dinner for him and he would always get mad at me.” She continued on, “He was an alcoholic. We used to drink about a bottle and a half of gin every week. He would force me to drink and have sex with him. He would flip out on me and tell me I’m a nobody.”

Since her boyfriend’s license was suspended, Baker had to tend to his every need, driving him around wherever he needed to be. “A basic day in my life began at 5:30am. I would get up, and wake up my friend who lived with me and my neighbor,” she said. “They would ride with me to school. My boyfriend worked at Walmart over night. I would have to pick him up from Walmart by 7:00am, take him home and then go to school myself.”

All in all, throughout hardship and abuse, Baker still managed to keep her life in order. She remained a competition cheerleader at FAMU and graduated on the Dean’s list with a GPA of 3.8. Overcoming it all, Baker has a new sense of purpose and vigor for life. She overcame the addictive likes of her ex-boyfriend and moved on from a dark situation. She said, “I feel like I can take on anything. Through all of that I still managed to keep my sanity, keep my grades up and activities on campus. I didn’t let him take my life over to the point where I lost myself.”

In May 2012, Baker began to attend Full Sail University, majoring in the Entertainment Business Masters program. After graduating from Full Sail, she plans to start her own event management company. “I want to do music conferences, concerts, and parties,” she says. In the next three years, Baker sees herself back in Atlanta coordinating events and parties.

Leaving us with encouraging words that may be a span of hope for any other woman dealing with this similar crisis. Baker speaks as a voice to stand up and fight for what one believes in. “I think my story can help because sometimes women will lose themselves over a man. But, I feel we are worth so much more than that. I am so open about my story because I want for others to see you can overcome obstacles.”