Throughout the busy foliage season those who servetourists are faced with last minute travelers looking for a place to stay.The Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing launched a new tool in mid-September that will assist the tourism industry in connecting travelers and lodging properties. This simple, online system allows any lodging establishment in the state to post and update their current room availability throughout the day.As of September 26, as many as 150 Vermont lodging properties were logging on daily to enter the current room availability. “We think it’svery exciting to have this service, which lets travelers and innkeepers find each other immediately. It really works; it’s a wonderful idea,” said Jennifer Karpin, manager at The Grafton Homestead.The listings are immediately available to staff at Vermont Information and Welcome Centers, Regional Marketing Organizations, chambers ofcommerce, and operators at the 1-800-Vermont teleservicing center. Availability can be sorted by region of the state, town, number of rooms available, or by the time the listing was last updated.Even a lodging property that has filled its own rooms can use the system to help additional travelers who show up at their front desk.Listings from the previous day are cleared automatically from the system at 5 a.m. each morning. Properties that register will receive anautomatic email reminder to update the current day’s information. This ensures only current information is displayed.Vermont tourism officials expect an excellent 2002 foliage season, which means about 4.5 million people will be booking lodging accommodations during the season. For foliage conditions and scenic tours see:www.VermontVacation.com(link is external)
On Tuesday evening, the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism hosted “Patriot or Traitor? Whistleblowing and Journalism in the Age of Government Surveillance,” an event featuring well-known government whistleblower, Daniel Ellsberg, who released the Pentagon Papers during the Nixon administration.Patriot or traitor? · The panel consisted of three previous whistleblowers who spoke on the diminishment of the First Amendment and the need for proper governmental accountability. – Noel Berry | Daily TrojanRobert Scheer, a professor and founder of Truthdig, moderated the panel, which, along with Ellsberg, also included two other prominent whistleblowers: Thomas Drake, former senior executive of the National Security Agency, and attorney Jesselyn Radack, who currently represents Edward Snowden.The event, a collaboration between the Annenberg School and the Government Accountability Project, is part of a two-day forum featuring the importance of government whistleblowing and the crucial duty of the press to release important truths to U.S. society.“You don’t wake up one morning and decide to be a whistleblower,” Drake said. “I don’t remember going to my high school counselor and saying, ‘Hey, I want to be a whistleblower.’”Radack noted that a “leak” differs from whistleblowing in that it often serves no purpose for the greater good.“Whistleblowing, on the other hand, is done to serve the public interest and the public’s right to know,” she said.Moreover, when the pillars of the government begin to fail, the press becomes of the utmost importance to keep the government reliable. People who factually expose the government as incompetent, however, can suffer serious consequences.“God forbid you should disclose government illegality — because then the hammer will really fall on you, and you will face prison the rest of your life,” Radack said.Drake, who was the second American to be charged under the Espionage Act since Ellsberg, was publicly indicted and faced 35 years in prison for whistleblowing.“[The government] wanted to make me the example,” Drake said.Since 9/11, Drake said, the government has disengaged itself from the Constitution, granting itself authority to use emergency powers.“And we have been operating in that mode ever since,” he said.Nevertheless, all three panelists expressed the opinion that whistleblowing is important to defending the U.S. Constitution and the First Amendment.Ellsberg, who claimed that the government failed to carry out its oath as stated in the Constitution, said he and his colleagues were beyond the Constitution and instead worked for the president. Ellsberg believes that he, as well as dozens of other people, had access to the papers that could have sealed a lid on the Vietnam War.“Despite life or death situations, most of those people have stayed quiet,” Ellsberg said. “Practically everyone who had that documentation should have realized that the Constitution was being violated.”Ellsberg stressed the cost for the United States could be steep, and when those secrets are kept and whistleblowers do not question the government.“The price of a government keeping secrets is wars like Vietnam and wars like Iraq,” Ellsberg said.Scheer echoed Ellsberg’s sentiments.“Where [were] all of the people who knew that people were dying in wars that made no sense? Where are the several thousand that knew their neighbors and children who were being spied on?” Scheer asked.Those potential whistleblowers do not release information, because if they do, they are often labeled as traitors and lack the proper protection for whistleblowers that should be enacted, Radack said.Even so, despite now being considered a hero following the release of the Pentagon Papers, Ellsberg was quickly labeled a traitor, Scheer said.Ellsberg, who said he identifies with Snowden’s current struggle, still remembers the first time he was called a traitor in 1971.“Chelsea Manning and now, Snowden, are no more of a traitor than I am,” he said. “And I’m not [a traitor].”Radack, the former ethics advisor for the U.S. Department of Justice, was accused of “leaking” information when she drew attention to the illegal treatment of John Walker Lindh, who was captured as an enemy combatant by Afghan Northern Alliance forces during the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.After a photo of Lindh exposed the prisoner naked, blindfolded and gagged, the Attorney General publicly claimed that they did not know the prisoner had a legal counselor, Radack said. Emails between Radack and the FBI, exposing U.S. intelligence illegality, disappeared from Radack’s office and she was put on the no-fly list.“I didn’t realize by going to the press I was releasing the full force of the executive branch,” Radack said.Since this incident, Radack has defended Drake and many other anti-government whistleblowers.“I decided to dedicate the rest of my life to recognizing whistleblowers,” she said.She added that the country is at a point where the First Amendment is currently “under attack.”Drake agreed, noting issues of the government keeping secrets have increased to illegal data recovery without the consent of American citizens. He mentioned that since 9/11, the NSA has been using its extraordinary power to spy on Americans.“The First Amendment, which I ultimately had to confront after 9/11, is the cornerstone of who we are as Americans,” he said. “If we don’t have the First Amendment, everything disappears.”Also discussed was the importance of the press in keeping the government reliable.“If you don’t have press, everything else becomes propaganda,” Drake said.Geoffrey Cowan, former dean of Annenberg, said that the United States is not going to be protected by our leaders alone.“[The leaders] have to feel the pressure from our citizens,” he said. “There couldn’t be journalism without sources. Whistleblowers, in a certain way, are sources with steroids.”And in the time of the Vietnam War, the journalists failed at searching and clawing for the truth, the panelists said.“Journalists were behaving as government lapdogs rather than government watchdogs,” Ellsberg said of journalism in the time of the Vietnam War. “To this day, we don’t have nearly as many whistleblowers as we could and should have.”Students in attendance noted the panel was extremely telling on issues that are often not covered heavily.Jamie Moskowitz, a senior majoring in communication, said she was inspired by the passion of the three speakers and how they took action to work toward justice.“It was an honor just to hear their story,” Moskowitz said.Sanam Ghaneeian, a sophomore majoring in communication, said the panel was helpful because she had no idea how much whistleblowers risked when presenting information to the U.S. public.“I can’t believe how dangerous [whistleblowing] is and how much courage these people had to disclose information,” Ghaneeian said.
FILE – In this Dec. 27, 2009, file photo, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison (92) rushes against the Baltimore Ravens during an NFL football game in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)PITTSBURGH (AP) – Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin called the decision to sign James Harrison “simple and easy.”Figuring out how – and just as important when – to use the five-time Pro Bowl linebacker, well, that part is a little trickier.The Steelers brought the 36-year-old Harrison out of retirement on Tuesday to give an injury depleted group some needed depth and a locker room in need of some intensity an added jolt.Harrison, who seemed to end his 12-year NFL career during an impromptu news conference Sept. 5, will provide plenty of both. How quickly he sees the field, however, remains uncertain.“We need to see what he is capable of doing before we etch out any roles for him or others,” Tomlin said Tuesday.The Steelers (2-1) reached out to Harrison after young linebackers Jarvis Jones and Ryan Shazier went down in Sunday night’s 37-19 win at Carolina. Jones underwent surgery Tuesday for a broken wrist.The team placed their first-round pick in the 2013 draft on the injured reserve/return list, meaning he’ll be eligible to come back in eight weeks. Shazier’s sprained right knee likely won’t keep him out as long, though Tomlin ruled out the rookie for this week’s game against Tampa Bay (0-3).Sean Spence will likely take over for Shazier. While Arthur Moats played well filling in for Jones – recording a sack in the second half as the Steelers pulled away – the injuries left the Steelers thin at a positon they considered a strength in the preseason.Enter Harrison, whom the Steelers released in the spring of 2013 after he declined to take a pay cut. The 2008 NFL Defensive Player of the Year eventually signed with Cincinnati, where he played in a diminished role as the Bengals won the AFC North. He finished with two sacks and an interception in 15 games before getting cut in March.He remained in training throughout the preseason but couldn’t find work and signed a one-day contract with Pittsburgh on Sept. 5 so he could retire a Steeler. Harrison cited the need to be closer to his two sons as a major factor in his decision. That shouldn’t be a problem now. The Harrisons live in a Pittsburgh suburb.Harrison will join a locker room that’s undergone an extensive makeover in the 18 months since his departure, particularly on defense. Only three starters – linebacker Lawrence Timmons, safety Troy Polamalu and defensive end Brett Keisel – remain from the 2012 season. A fourth, cornerback Ike Taylor, broke his right forearm Sunday night and is out indefinitely.Tomlin allowed it may take a bit for Harrison to get his bearings.“There is comfort in that familiarity but at the same time there are some new, integral pieces to our football team,” Tomlin said. “He has an understanding of that. It will be fun to kind of watch him work his way back into the group.”Recent history hints it might not take long. Pittsburgh declined to re-sign Keisel over the spring only to call him when the defensive line struggled early in the preseason. He was back on the field nine days later, playing in the exhibition finale against the Panthers.Harrison, like Keisel, is well past his prime. Yet the Steelers are optimistic his savvy and experience can make an impact on a defense that is still finding its way. Pittsburgh needed three games to record a turnover, though the pass rush showed signs of improvement while getting to Cam Newton three times on Sunday night.The schedule gives the Steelers some flexibility. They face the hapless Buccaneers then travel to winless Jacksonville. Two weeks might be all that’s necessary for Harrison to find his niche. It’s unlikely the Steelers would put him at the top of the depth chart based simply on his resume. If he can show flashes of the burst that helped him record 64 sacks during his 10 years in Pittsburgh, he could be a weapon in pass-rushing situations.It’s what the Bengals tried to do with him in 2013, with underwhelming results. Not that Tomlin is using 2013 as a barometer on what Harrison can do now that he’s back home.“I don’t care about what he did in Cincinnati or what their schematics are,” Tomlin said. “I’ll base my judgments based off of his capabilities based on what I see back in this setting among us.”NOTES: Rookie RB Dri Archer (ankle) practiced Monday and could play this week after missing the last two games. … The Steelers will keep Taylor on the active roster for now and give him some time to heal before deciding whether to place him on season-ending injured reserve.___AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL