Tag Archives | Utah

There Is A Place: Documentary Series

In July 2003, I drove my moving truck out of the mountains and into Salt Lake City. Before arriving at my new apartment, I saw a bunch of Mormons burning American flags. So I pulled over, grabbed my camera and began shooting footage. And I didn’t turn the camera off for 3 years.

divided state

Conducting an interview of a Salt Lake City strip club owner.

 

My original idea, 12 years ago, was to compile an anthology of strange, funny and heartbreaking stories into one big documentary film about Utah.

But then Michael Moore came to town.

In 2004, I shot, edited, produced and directed by first feature film This Divided State about filmmaker Michael Moore’s controversial visit to Orem, UT 2 weeks before the Bush/Kerry presidential election. Originally, this event was going to be a just another entry in my anthology, but it quickly grew into something of its own. The film garnered critical success and I spent the next 2 years traveling the world promoting it.… Read the rest

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The Happiest Places to Live in the USA

When thinking about where you will settle down and spend your life, what do you consider? For most of us, happiness is towards the top of our requirements. While being happy in your surroundings is subjective, there are many elements pertaining to living in certain areas that can put a smile on your face.

One of these key factors is the cost of living, but it’s important to note that the cost to rent property in the United States fluctuates dramatically state by state. It’s imperative to be aware of the financial ramifications if you’re planning on renting property in certain areas, as this can have a huge impact on your comfort and stability levels on a daily basis.

In addition to financial comfort, your actual surroundings may be affecting your mood more than you think. The study of ecopsychology refers to the relationship between human beings and the natural world through ecological and psychological principles.… Read the rest

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Utah’s firing squad plan is another twist in America’s long quest for a perfect execution method

The death chamber at the state penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas. REUTERS/Jenevieve Robbins/Texas Dept of Criminal Justice/Handout

The death chamber at the state penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas.
REUTERS/Jenevieve Robbins/Texas Dept of Criminal Justice/Handout

Daniel LaChance, Emory University

Concerned that the Supreme Court may soon declare lethal injection unconstitutional, some states are making back-up plans.

In March, Utah’s governor signed legislation that will bring back the firing squad as the state’s official execution method in the event that injection – the method used by every state that still retains the death penalty – is no longer possible.

Utah’s legislation has received a lot of attention, in part because the state occupies a symbolically important place in the history of the modern American death penalty.

In 1977, it was the first to kill anyone after a ten-year suspension of executions in the United States. (The Supreme Court had found the death penalty capriciously applied, and thus unconstitutional, in a 1972 case. But it permitted executions to resume four years later when states presented the Court with new sentencing guidelines aimed at reducing arbitrariness.)

Standing in front of five rifles poking through a slotted wall, convicted murderer Gary Gilmore famously uttered, “Let’s do it,” and with his death, the modern era of executions in the United States was born.… Read the rest

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Utah May Bring Back the Firing Squad

Nathan & Jenny (CC BY 2.0)

Nathan & Jenny (CC BY 2.0)

With the recent horror stories of botched lethal injections, I am thinking this may not be such a bad idea. Though, I’m still waiting for the end of capital punishment, but I think I may be waiting for awhile.

Conor Friedersdorf:

In Utah, where nine inmates are on death row, their would-be executioners face an obstacle. To kill them by lethal injection, they need a cocktail of drugs. But a European campaign to stop one of those drugs from reaching U.S. executioners has worked well enough to create a shortage. And alternative cocktails have malfunctioned.

Thus the response of the Utah State Senate. On Tuesday, it voted to legalize executions by firing squad if the state is short on lethal-injection drugs. “Republican Rep. Paul Ray touted the measure as being a more humane form of execution,” AP reports. “Ray argued that a team of trained marksmen is faster and more humane than the drawn-out deaths that have occurred in botched lethal injections.” He may be correct.

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Utah Man Fired for Blogging About Homophones

Does anyone else find it interesting that he was fired from a language center?

via Newsweek:

A Utah teacher and education blogger says he was fired from the Nomen Global Language Center in Provo after writing a blog post about homophones, though he disputes media reports that he was let go for promoting a “gay agenda.”

Self-described “social media specialist and content provider” Tim Torkildson recounted the firing in a personal blog post, which was subsequently picked up by The Salt Lake Tribune and other outlets. According to that account, Nomen Global owner Clarke Woodger was concerned that a post about homophones—words that sound the same but are defined differently—meant the school would be “associated with homosexuality.”

“He called me into the conference room, and he said, ‘We’re going to let you go,’” Torkildson told Newsweek.

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The NSA Wants to Keep Its Water Usage Secret

When a government agency once considered so secret that its nickname was “No Such Agency” comes under scrutiny for more or less everything it does, it shouldn’t be considered too surprising that it resists disclosure of activities even (seemingly) as mundane as the quantity of water it uses at its Utah Data Center. Wired reports on the NSA’s reasons for wishing to keep this particular secret:

The National Security Agency has many secrets, but here’s a new one: the agency is refusing to say how much water it’s pumping into the brand new data center it operates in Bluffdale, Utah. According to the NSA, its water usage is a matter of national security.

nsa-utah-data-center

The agency made the argument in a letter sent to officials in Utah, who are considering whether or not to release the data to the Salt Lake Tribune. Back in May, Tribune reporter Nate Carlisle asked for local records relating to the data center, but when he got his files a few months later, the water usage data was redacted.

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Charges Over Scout Leaders’ Destruction of 170M Year-Old Utah Rock Formation

Goblin Valley State Park in Utah

Goblin Valley State Park in Utah (Photo credit: Wikipedia) (CC)

Remember the dimwitted Boy Scout leaders who push over the rock formation at Goblin Valley state park? They have been charged and awaiting possible conviction.

via the guardian

Taylor, 45, is charged with felony criminal mischief and Hall, 42, faces one count of felony aiding and assisting in criminal mischief, the director of Utah state parks, Fred Hayes, said in a statement.

If convicted, each man could face up to five years in prison, a fine of $5,000 and restitution for damages to Utah’s protected natural resources.

The men were stripped of their leadership positions with the Boy Scouts of America after the video surfaced, igniting a furore and flooding the state parks office with angry calls and emails.

“From literally from around the world. Folks who have either been there [to Goblin Valley state park] or even just seen pictures of it,” Hayes told Reuters at the time.

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Utah Woman And Husband Guilty Of Shooting Neighbor Over “Telepathic Rape”

telepathic rapeJust an ordinary story of crack cocaine mind control and telepathic sex crimes in a Utah trailer park, via Gawker:

A woman in Utah has pleaded guilty to attempted criminal solicitation and possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person after persuading her husband to shoot their neighbor by claiming she was the victim of “telepathic rape.”

Meloney Selleneit was accused of illegally purchasing a gun for Michael Selleneit, a violent felon, and inciting him to shoot Tony Pierce twice in the back while Pierce was working in his yard.

Michael, 53, later told police Pierce, 41, had been telepathically raping his wife for years and was using crack cocaine to control her mind.

A judge found Michael competent to stand trial despite some hesitancy from mental health evaluators. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two one-to-15 years prison terms. Meloney, 55, pleaded guilty but mentally ill to her charges last week.

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The Psychic Mormon Dream Mine In The Mountains Of Utah

dream mineVia Utah.gov, the bizarre story behind the “Dream Mine” built by a nineteenth-century Mormon bishop-prophet famed for his dreams that predicted the future:

The so-called Dream Mine is located east of Salem in Utah County.

In August 1894, John H. Koyle experienced a dream in which he was visited by a figure from another world. The visitor carried him to a high mountain east of Koyle’s house and into the mountain, showing him the various strata and explaining the meaning of the minerals. The visitor showed Koyle an ancient “Nephite” mine with large rooms of mined-out ore bodies. The rooms contained treasure and artifacts of an extinct civilization.

Koyle was instructed that he was to open a mine and extract gold for the welfare of “his” people. The riches would be found and released to him and his followers during a time of world crisis. The wealth would be spread to others through Koyle and the people organized around the mine.

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Utah Town Burned 16-Foot Mammoth Effigy For Winter Solstice

This is my kind of Christmas — shades of The Wicker Man in a remote Utah town.  Salt Lake City’s KSL reports:

The town is relying on the wooden mammoth to hopefully catch the attention of researchers. The effigy, built to scale, was built over the course of three weeks by Pachak and Bluff residents, using only sticks and two support poles. The 8 p.m. ceremony will include drumming, and Gulliford said the effigy won’t be set on fire with just matches.

The mammoth is meant to celebrate the winter solstice and draw attention to the historical significance of the area. Mammoth petroglyphs [were discovered] near Bluff, a town of a few hundred people located on the San Juan River. Rock expert and local artist Joe Pachak first discovered the petroglyphs in 1987, but they have been a source of controversy ever since.

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