Author: TNL Staff

December 3, 2012 TNL Staff

In the digital age, it’s easy to verify things purchased online via email or on a confirmation page, but it’s essential to keep a digital filing folder for important information.

A receipt for tuition paid in full should warrant a screenshot or saved email on a flash drive that can be easily located in the event of a payment dispute.

And what about all the online holiday shopping being done? Is it really likely that a person can remember, off the top of his or her head, exactly how much money was spent at each website visited?

Those confirmation emails need to be kept in a file too, even when using a trusted vendor, because it’s impossible to know what bugs have slipped into a computer or smart phone from one minute to the next.

Yes, it may seem tedious to stash those confirmation emails into a folder or on a flash drive, but when it comes down to a dispute about whether financial aid information was submitted on time or if there was an agreement to spend thousands of dollars on collectable “Star Trek” figurines, it helps to have proof of things such as times, dates and purchase specifications.

So make the effort now, in lieu of grasping at straws and talking to 100 customer service people later.

November 12, 2012 TNL Staff

The snow and slippery ice on the streets is becoming a permanent fixture around town.

Next, turkey will be in our bellies, and holiday decorations will be carefully strung through trees and lining sidewalks.

November 5, 2012 TNL Staff

What and who is The Northern Light?

The Northern Light is an entirely student-run newspaper at the University of Alaska Anchorage. It has been in publication since Sept. 19, 1988, after the merger between UAA and Anchorage Community College combined two newspapers: the UAA Voice and the Anchorage Community College Accent.

Since then, the publication has also moved to encompass an online news site, www.thenorthernlight. org, and uses social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, to share news with the UAA community.

All writers, photographers, editors, advertising representatives and graphics designers are students enrolled in at least six credit hours within UAA and have a GPA of at least a 2.0. Higher-ranking positions on staff require higher a GPA but vary from position to position.

Why should anyone care? Aren’t newspapers going out of business?

People should care about the news in their community because a free press is the foundation of a functioning democracy. Without it, how could people be informed enough to make decision in their own community? Who would hold public officials accountable for their actions? Who would document aspects of our culture for future generations?

In every free society, a free press is revered as necessary. And in countries that aren’t free, journalists and honest reporting are quieted though varying means. Journalists and citizen- journalists (bloggers, vloggers, et cetera) can be intimidated through the government or illegal organization and threatened with beatings, jail time and death.

Why would they bother to do this? Because an informed public is a scary thing for oppressors.

What we do at The Northern Light is less extreme than ratting out dirty politicians and gangsters, though.

But what we do is something no other news organization in Alaska does: We focus primarily on news within the University of Alaska system.

Since we’re a part of the largest institute of higher education in the biggest state in the country, that’s sort of a big deal.

So journalism is pretty important.

As for newspapers going out of business, that’s only partially true. Yes, print news organizations have shrunk dramatically in size since the 2007 recession. A lot of factors play into this, and explaining them all could take pages of this newspaper.

But to keep it short, here are a few reasons why newspaper companies have been dwindling: The sheer cost of producing a newspaper is extremely high and readers are flocking online to get their news.

This does not mean journalism is going away forever. It just means the field is evolving and leaning toward online-only publications.

This does not mean there aren’t jobs in journalism. This does not mean traditional journalism is going away.

This is part of a continuing series of articles to inform readers about operating procedures at The Northern Light. 

October 22, 2012 TNL Staff

Biden’s teeth bared. Romney’s caffeine overdose. Binders full of women. And the biggest American flagpin of anyone…on the entire stage.

Forget the economy, a raging war in the Middle East and health care.

Forget mainstreaming fact checking for the American public. The media has, for the most part, created a superficial focus on information during all presidential debates thus far this election. Granted, the media is happy to report trending words during the debates. The public, contrary to what most people may think, seemed focused on issues such as #Syria, #Afghanistan, #economy and #healthcare.

So why is there a discrepancy between what the media is covering and what voters want to hear about?

It seems like the mass media has become content to turn the run for presidency, into a run for homecoming king — bringing our national election process to a new whopping level of pathetic.

Why new?

Because each year that the American public stands for this babble, each year that we perpetuate this kind of manipulative, sensationalist reporting, we tell media moguls that it’s okay to ignore the important issues and focus on whether or not Republican Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan washed clean or dirty dishes at a homeless shelter.

And that adds one more tally mark to how long Americans have been distracted, like cats smacking laser lights on a wall, from national issues that should take precedent such as Syria, Afghanistan, the economy and healthcare without the caveat of hash tags.

The solution is for the public to actually think for themselves and focus on issues important to them, while ignoring or being mildly amused by the hubbub being reported.

While it’s okay to laugh at memes of Bill Clinton asking, “Binders full of women?” it’s not okay to let that overshadow the fact that there are real, important decisions being made during election season.

And at the end of the day, regardless of who laughed at whom during the debate or who took too many big gulps of water, come Nov. 6, we still have a president to elect.

October 8, 2012 TNL Staff

October is the best month of the year.

The trees turn vibrant shades of red, yellow and orange; pumpkin becomes a common ingredient used in coffee shops and restaurants; the mid-semester slump is tackled by students; and people herd themselves in costume shops looking for just the right costume to indulge in some childish (or maybe some grown-up) fun on Halloween.

But there’s something offensively wrong with the innocence of costume shopping and planning: the seemingly endless supply of racist costumes.

From the stereotypical Mexican wearing a poncho and sombrero, to the sexy “Indian” costume complete with a hair feather, it is becoming increasingly acceptable for people to berate other people’s cultures and traditions for the sake of laugh.

But let’s be serious, racism ruled the way this country functioned for hundreds of years, and regardless of what people think, it’s still alive and well.

Because the casual comments people make among friends about black people, white people, Mexicans, Samoans or Native Americans is a lingering effect of racism.

And for some reason, people think it’s okay to make an offhand comment about a race because they have friends of that race.

You know what I’m talking about, and you know what the answers to these questions are:

What are three things you can’t give a black person? Why doesn’t Mexico have an Olympic team? What’s the difference between a Jew and a pizza?

But think of it this way, as a young college students, some may never have experienced overt racism, but our grandparents likely did.

Imagine what it would be like if your friends and family fought and died for a cause and, in your lifetime, it became someone’s joke.

Wait a minute — that’s already happened.

Well before the 10th anniversary of the death of 2,753 people in the 9/11 attacks, highjacker, al-Qaida and suicide bomber costumes can be found in Halloween shops. And worse yet, people actually buy them.

Not only is this tasteless, but it’s also disrespectful to the soldiers still fighting for our country overseas.

It’s not funny.

So this year, let’s make a vow to not let our costume choices be ruled by the racism that somehow still defines our society. There are other ways to be shocking without being hurtful.

October 1, 2012 TNL Staff

In regard to Matt Brown’s letter to the editor, we appreciate the concern regarding the quality of our writing. We, too, worry about how to best perform our duties as writers and editors representing this university,

In fact, we invite all concerned readers to contribute to making The Northern Light the best newspaper it can be by submitting letters to the editor, opinion pieces and informing staffers of news events throughout the campus.

As a quick point of interest, however, there were several inaccuracies within Brown’s letter that TNL staffers would like to clarify.

TNL staffers do have economics professors look over statistics from time to time. An economics professor was consulted for the recent story concerning sequestration, though it was not reported in the article. It is also common practice for people to peer edit and check the math for each other’s stories prior to print. Any errors should be reported to The Northern Light as soon as possible and a correction will be made either in print or online.

Also, the letter questions whether or not TNL staffers are students. Yes, this is an entirely student run newspaper. All staffers, volunteers and contributors must be enrolled in at least six credit hours and have a minimum GPA of 2.0 And there are higher GPA requirements for upper-level positions.

Sept. 4, we ran a piece on the proposed tuition increase. The story in question is an “op-ed” piece, meaning that it expressed the opinion of the staff. We fully welcome anyone’s right to disagree with us; you’ll find that, as journalists, we’re pretty big on that “freedom of speech” thing. However, the op-ed contained additional information not included in the previous story.

It was our hope that by comparing UAA to its peers and listing the recent salaries and major expenses our university, that we could offer students a more complete picture of our financial situation. The question was then, and remains now, “How can this university claim to not have enough funds when it can shell out the funding for a new sports complex and continue to pay its administration such fat salaries.” There are some who would reply that the sports complex center is a complete necessity to this university and there are others who would say the administration deserves those large salaries. They are welcome to their opinions, but so are we.

In response to the complaints about the Permanent Fund Dividend story there seems to be confusion about what this piece is supposed to be. It is considered a public opinion piece. If one reads it, they will find that the story features interviewed students who were happy or unhappy with the announcement. Though we fully understand the process in which the PFD is calculated (it’s included in the story), our focus was on public perception of the announcement.

We were also disturbed by the claim that staffers view Barack Obama as some sort of personal hero. The Northern Light rarely covers national news (unless we can localize it) and the last time there was any coverage on a national topic it was in opinion pieces penned by Shana Roberson, a occasional contributor for The Northern Light.

And both of those articles, one published July 24 and the other Aug.7, were critical of the president.

That does not mean that TNL staffers are right-wingers either, though. It just means that the person who wrote those articles felt that particular way about that particular topic.

Finally, to address the suggestion to introduce a new mandatory course entitled “Economics for Everyday Life.” While that idea sounds fantastic, we will be a bit biased in piggy backing on it and suggesting all students complete a Reporting 1 class before graduating. It is probably true that every person, in every major would be able to suggest a course they believe everyone should take. Brown proves to not be an exception and we accept that,

We thank all readers for critiques of the newspaper and we appreciate the support of our loyal readers.

The Northern Light contact information is printed in every issue on the Puzzles and Comics page.

 

September 24, 2012 TNL Staff

It’s painful to think the revolution of Generation Y will be remembered as a joke. It hurts to think that we will be remembered as jobless, homeless vagabonds who started the Occupy Wall Street movement a year ago Sept. 17.

September 20, 2012 TNL Staff

The announcement Tuesday of the first dividend payment below $1,000 in many years caused recipients to question the fairness of this amount.

Bill Hogan, interim dean of the College of Health, said that it seems small to him. He noted, however, that the dividend is figured at the average of five years of fund income and that this included some years of the economic downturn. He has no plans for the money. He usually puts it in savings or gives it to charity. However, he did not “pick, click, give” when he completed his application.

Although the amount fluctuates, this year’s amount of $878 was the lowest payment since 2005, when qualified Alaskans received $845.76. The total payout as reported by pfd.alaska.gov is said to be $567 million this year.

Pinky Miranda, student services coordinator for the Department of Human Services, said the amount was very disappointing and added that we have no right to be disappointed because it is, after all, free money. However, she does plan to use it to pay for improvements and repairs to her home. She did not use “pick, click, give” when she filled out her application.

Reacting to Tuesday’s announcement, JPC major Tim Twombly said that he was “expecting it to be at least a thousand dollars.” Although his expectations were set higher, he said that the lower amount doesn’t bother him because regardless, it is “money for me to spend… or save.”

Also expecting the payout to be larger, pre-nursing major Karla Vonderheit, who’s pinching pennies for a December wedding said, “You always hope for it to be more, regardless of the amount.” Although, like Twombly, she was hoping for four figures, she admits, “It’s still free money.”

For PFD recipients, the checks will be direct deposited on October 4 and the paper checks will be sent out the same day.

— Reported by JPC A201 Reporting and Writing News

September 17, 2012 TNL Staff

Before 6 a.m. the morning after the severe Sept. 4 storm, staff members from The Northern Light received a text message from a leader at the Student Activities office informing us that school was canceled.

A TNL staff member posted the information on our Facebook page, and that was the most we could do to inform our peers about the closure.

Why didn’t UAA inform its students?

An email to students, which some never received to inform them that classes were canceled for the day. No text messages were sent to notify those without access to email in the power outage.

While inconvenient, this probably wasn’t too big of a deal for people. A few students or professors might have come to campus to find it closed and, probably grumbling, went back home for the day.

But what if it had been a different situation? What if there had been a serious threat on campus?

Since the Columbine High School shooting in 1999, which left 13 victims and two gunmen dead, there have been 180 school shootings in the United States.

July 20, a gunman killed 12 moviegoers at a midnight premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises.”

These events point out one certain thing about our society: There is no guarantee of safety anywhere.

If this school is serious about keeping its students safe, it needs to invest in a program that will send a mass emergency text message to students and employees, informing them of essential university information.

After the Virginia Tech massacre April 16, 2007, which left 32 people and a gunman dead, the university was fined $27,500 for failing to notify its students in a timely fashion that a shooter was loose on campus.

The school emailed students twice, once at 9:26 a.m. and once at 9:50 a.m. The first email was a notification of an isolated shooting in a dorm room. The second email was about the rampant gunman, who lay dead in a classroom by 9:51 a.m.

The second message was, needless to say, too late to save anyone.

Quiz time: How many of you readers checked your university email today? How many of you checked it every day in the past week? If the university emailed you about a shooter on campus, would you have gotten it in time? Is that something UAA is willing to take a chance on?

Yes, it costs money to buy a system and plan for emergency situations on campus, but that money is well spent.

If the university is “working” on installing an emergency text messaging system, what exactly is the holdup?

They’ve had since 1999 to get a notification system together.

Everyone on campus is united in hoping an emergency will never happen at UAA, but that’s why it’s called an emergency. It could happen at any time, in any place — it could happen to you.

Can students afford to wait on an email?

September 11, 2012 TNL Staff

If you are a full-time student employed at UAA, you already know that students can’t work more than 20 hours in one week.

That sentiment is understandable.

Students working only 20 hours a week should, in theory, be better students because they have more time to study.

But this is pre-recession thinking.

A few years ago, students could probably depend on parents to help foot the bill for at least some higher education expenses. They could depend on their parent’s sparkling credit scores to help get private loans.

However, with unemployment in this country still at its highest rate since the Great Depression and, according to a DailyFinance article published July 2, the average level of debt in America is more than most people make in a year, and students are faced with the burden of figuring out how to pay for college themselves.

That means a lot of hours working, apparently, two part-time jobs and staying up until 3 a.m. to get homework done.

The hourly limitation can obviously do more harm than good.

An extra 10 or 15 hours per week at an on-campus job could be enough to help a student pay rent and keep them out of the stressful situation of having to work two part-time jobs while going to school.

It would be tight. A student would still have to be thrifty with their cash. But it could work.

Don’t blame the university for the policy, though. Point your finger at Uncle Sam.

According to the United States Department of Labor website, “The Full-time Student Program is for full-time students employed in retail or service stores, agriculture, or colleges and universities. … The certificate also limits the hours that the student may work to 8 hours in a day and no more than 20 hours a week when school is in session and 40 hours when school is out.”

Want to know more about the program? Good luck.

Two research librarians at the consortium library and a chat with a librarian at the Library of Congress yielded only vague information about the program. (But TNL is on a huge waiting list to speak to a law librarian. We’ll get that call … someday.)

So it seems that this law, affecting millions of students in the country, was passed without too much uproar from students, lawmakers or media outlets.

What does that mean?

It means we all need to pay attention, because the decisions made in Washington are decisions that affect everyone.

September 8, 2012 TNL Staff

The tuition increase proposed for the University of Alaska system is unwarranted. While most people can understand and appreciate the fact that the proposed 2 percent increase is the lowest in ten years, what can’t be understood is why the increase is necessary.

Pat Gamble, University of Alaska President, is correct in saying that the increases in tuition still put Alaska in the running for some of the most affordable tuition in the western region. But it pretty much has to be in order to exist.

An online search revealed that the University of Alaska system, a public institution, and Alaska Pacific University, a private institution, are the only two universities in the state.

The western region Gamble is referring to encompasses big, historically expensive universities such as the University of Southern California, charging about $21,081 per semester for a full-time undergraduate student, and Boise State University in Idaho, charging almost $10,000 a semester for a full-time undergraduate student.

Of course these larger campuses have more expensive tuition than UAA!

Also, a national hot topic right now is public education funding.

Most states being forced to raise tuition are battling budget cuts caused by severely decreased state funding.

The UA system is lucky. For the past ten years, the state has annually increased the amount of money it gives to the system.

Yet, tuition still rises.

Surely there must be a way to cut expenditures another way and leave tuition alone for at least one year.

University officials found a way to fund a new sports complex center at UAA (costing $109,000,00) and keep their salaries fat (Gamble has a baseline salary of $295,000 per year and Chancellor Thomas Case has a baseline salary of $225,000) but not a way to prevent tuition from increasing?

It seems like the opportunity to keep tuition from increasing is available, just not acted upon.

August 11, 2012 TNL Staff

It’s happened to everyone.

On the first day of class, backpacks are full of clean notebook paper, a half-dozen pens, and a multicolor tipped highlighter. People’s shoes are clean, hair is done and breakfast has been eaten.

This is the year assignments will be read before class, essays will be finished well in advance of deadlines and flash cards will be made for every test in every class.

This is the year of the straight As.

About three weeks later, the same backpack smells suspiciously like beer, the notebook paper is coffee stained and the only writing implement you have is the one highlighter with a cap still on it. Shoes have become flip-flops, hair is in a hat or ponytail and a cup of gas station coffee is the closest thing anyone in a classroom gets to breakfast.

What went wrong in those three weeks?

It probably started with the lofty goal of earning straight As, not that straight As are anything too ambitious to aspire for.

However, an important part of college is setting personal goals, and it’s all right if those goals do not align with society’s standards.

For instance, someone who works a full time job while going to school full time and raising a family has more obligations than someone who works part time slinging pizzas, goes to school full time and lives with their parents.

It’s a paradigm rarely considered when measuring standards of success.

Someone who has their plate stacked with the full-time job and family obligations may consider a C in a math course successful if they have always struggled with math. The same person may consider anything less than an A in an English course unacceptable because they excel at writing.

Success in college is all about setting personal, realistic goals.

Are you not a morning person? Enrolling in an 8 a.m. class will likely be a struggle for you.

Has math always been a difficult subject for you? Arrange your schedule to free 15 minutes before or after class so you can ask professors or peers questions about the lesson.

Did your house catch on fire and burn to the ground? Communicate with your professor. They won’t give you a free pass, but they might try to help you with your circumstances.

Believe it or not, plenty of important information is given during the first 15 minutes of class, the inability to ask for help when needed will work against you and professors feel little sympathy for students who offer excuses for poor performance after a failing grade is issued.

So, set your goals early and create a pace that works for you.

August 10, 2012 TNL Staff

A lifetime of movies and television shows has created a false reality where, directly after high school, one packs their bags kisses their parents good-bye and goes to the dormitory of a far away prestigious university.

The narrative usually progresses to tell either one of two stories.

The first story is about the wild child who drinks alcohol in excess, has casual sex with beautiful people and does not go to classes for half a semester, only to pull through enough at the end of the term to earn a passing grade and realize the error of their ways.

The alternate storyline involves a bookworm who spends the majority of their time in the campus library with books stacked in front of them, sending emails full of questions to an endearing professor or in a coffee shop sipping from an exuberantly tall cup while finishing an essay. This character will come to realize that, while grades are important, one should enjoy at least some other parts of the college experience.

Both stories are so far away from reality it is almost impossible to know where to begin to debunk the myths.

So, forget statistics about alcohol abuse’s prevalence in Anchorage, sexually transmitted disease rates in people 15-24 years old and the $2.35 price tag on a twenty ounce cup of plain, black coffee. (An anonymous Starbucks employee confirmed via telephone that a 20 ounce cup can cost somewhere in the $8 range “depending on what you throw in there.”)

Instead, the attack on the Hollywood reality can start at its beginning— the illusion that moving into a dorm room at a pricey university is still feasible for the majority of Americans.

The CBS News website reported June 21 that student debt in this country hit $1 trillion last year, more than credit card and auto-loan debt.

The report quotes Rohit Chopra, of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureauas, writing, “The lines of job-seekers are long, states are reducing their higher education budgets, and household budgets are straining.”

The University of Alaska Anchorage, at about $200 per undergraduate credit hour for Alaska residents, suddenly seems like a steal.

That means one could potentially pay $4,800 for a full time course load. But that does not reflect the price of tuition paid because it does not take into account financial aid, scholarships or grants.

This university may not have the prestigious stamp of Princeton or Harvard, but there is something smugly satisfying about the prospect of a debt free bachelor’s degree.

However, don’t “settle” for going to this university— embrace it.

Use the resources at the University of Alaska Anchorage to make it fit your expectations.

According to the UAA website, there are over 80 registered clubs on campus and there is an easy policy in place to create a new one to suit other interests.

The website also states that there are 11 sports competing at an NCAA level, and the athletics department hosts recreational opportunities throughout the year.

The ratio of professors to students is about 1:20 and many have experience in the field they teach or are nationally recognized for their work. Who better to learn from and in what better environment to learn?

This university can become anything you want it to. It can be a place of great learning, of growing and of fun.

Or, it can be the place someone settles for.

August 6, 2012 TNL Staff

For the past week, the world’s attention has been centered upon the 2012 Summer Olympics, a culmination of four years of dedicated training by athletes and exhaustive planning by the International Olympic Committee. It’s the event everyone is talking about. Whether it’s for the spectacular opening ceremony or to see Michael Phelps become the most…

August 6, 2012 TNL Staff

by Megan Edge, Contributor In all his years as an Olympic athlete, we’ve seen it all from him. From medals to marijuana, it seems as though we have watched Michael Phelps grow up through the television from the comfort of sports bars and couches, and now it is time to say goodbye to the most…

July 24, 2012 TNL Staff

Taxes are like American baseball — even if you don’t it, you can’t exactly get away from it. That doesn’t stop people from trying, and when they do try we can’t help but snicker when they’re caught and punished. Because, let’s be honest, if we have to pay, then everyone else better bet themselves that they do too. It’s the law.

Recently, there’s been a huge to-do regarding the Anchorage Baptist Temple and the various properties they’ve claimed as tax exempt for several years. For those who don’t know, Allen Prevo and his now ex-wife lived in one such property, and because Allen Prevo is an ordained minister with the church, the property is tax exempt (but only if the church is the sole owner of it). Allen, however, had a side agreement with the church, a “paper mortgage,” by which he was slowly purchasing the house from the church over time (since 2004, actually); this means that he has interest in the property, and therefore it does not qualify for tax exemption.

But ABT was claiming it anyway. No one would have known but for the divorce proceedings, in which Holly Jo Prevo (Allen Prevo’s then-wife) mentioned the agreement, and produced paperwork between Allen and ABT to prove its validity. What followed was an investigation of the other 14 tax exempt properties being used as residences for ABT ministers and educators, during which one other mortgage-like agreement was discovered and published by blogger Melissa S. Green on her LGBTQ website, Bent Alaska. ADN later picked up the story and expanded on it, drawing more attention.

ABT is claiming that they misinterpreted the law, that they didn’t realize what they were doing was wrong and that they would gladly pay the $53,298 in back taxes for the two properties (after being assured by Anchorage Assessor Marty McGee that they had, in fact, claimed ineligible property). McGee claims his investigation indicates that this is true, that ABT didn’t knowingly commit tax fraud, and that there would be no criminal charges pressed.

However, certain events and past taxation issues indicate that ABT knew precisely what it was doing, thereby willingly committing tax fraud over the course of several years.

During the Prevo divorce proceedings, Holly Jo indicated that Allen scoured their home for the “mortgage” documents, and testified that it was because he didn’t want her to have access to them and possibly get the church in trouble for “how they do their housing,”as reported by the Anchorage Daily News. If this is true — and no one claimed it wasn’t — then it should be taken as the first indicator that ABT at least had an idea that what they were doing wasn’t completely acceptable.

The second indicator that ABT knew that they were (possibly) committing tax fraud is that this isn’t their first rodeo regarding property taxes. In 2004, McGee investigated them for improperly claiming property tax exemptions on residences that didn’t qualify for it under Alaska’s tax exemption clause. The properties involved were returned to the tax roll until 2006, when legislation was passed in the state House and Senate to include properties owned by a church that are inhabited by religious educators and ordained ministers who fit an individual church’s criteria for a minister. This legislation was lobbied for by ABT.

Having gone through the process of defending their decisions and being found in the wrong, and then pushing a change in state law not two years later, it is unlikely that ABT was uneducated on the ins and outs of the tax exemption law when they chose to claim Allen Prevo’s residence and the residence of another minister as tax exempt. It is nearly impossible. Tack that on with Allen Prevo’s alleged desire to keep the church’s integrity out of question when he searched for their agreed upon paper mortgage, and the “coincidences” are just too much.

All that being said, why is a more in-depth investigation not being conducted? Why, when it seems so glaringly obvious that this organization knowingly is ripping off the general public by not paying its fair share of property taxes, are criminal charges not being filed? When a person is caught speeding and is pulled over, saying, “I’m sorry, I thought it was legal to go 100 mph down Old Seward at night with my headlights off,” is not going to get the person out of a ticket and a couple of fines. Why shouldn’t ABT be charged criminally, when any average property owner would be?

Ignorance is not a viable defense to breaking the law, and ignoring shady coincidences is not a good enough reason not to pursue a case. Make an example of ABT so that other organizations and individuals can see first hand that cheating (both the government and your fellow citizens) isn’t tolerated.

July 22, 2012 TNL Staff

Don’t forget that the deadline to register to vote in the primary elections is coming up soon. The deadline for registration is July 29th  and the elections will be held on August 28th. A quick and easy way to register is via the State of Alaska’s Online Voter Registration Application which can be found at  http://www.elections.alaska.gov/ot.php. Additional voter information as well as frequently asked questions can also be found at http://www.elections.alaska.gov/.

See you at the polls!

July 10, 2012 TNL Staff

By this point in time, most people know that when someone e-mails or calls you on behalf of a Nigerian prince, he or she is either playing a bad practical joke, or it’s a scammer trying to get their hands on your hard-earned money.

Unfortunately, some people are still falling for those things, as well as for hundreds of other scams floating around. Some play to our need for more money while others take a different tactic and try to scare us out of it; some sound completely ridiculous, and others can look very legitimate. No matter how careful you are, there’s a chance you could fall victim as well. Here is the rundown on a few of the bigger scams that the FBI is currently battling, and what you can do to help protect yourself from becoming a victim.

The FBI’s most recently updated scam involves Reveton, a malware program that infects users’ computers when they go to a drive-by download website. What this type of malware (called ransomware) does is freeze the computer and display a message indicating that the user has violated U.S. federal law and that their IP address was identified as being used to view child pornography or other illegal content. The user is instructed to pay a $100 fee to the U.S. Department of Justice to unlock the computer. Whether the user falls for the scam or not, the malware continues to run in the background on the computer and can be used to  participate in online credit card and/or banking fraud.

The FBI suggests that you contact your banking institutions and file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) if you think you’ve fallen victim to this scam. To prevent yourself from accidentally downloading the malware, don’t click on unfamiliar or unknown pop-up ads; the malware is often downloaded with no indication or approval from the user when they do so.

Another malware scam involves laptops and hotel internet connections. When travelers go abroad and try to connect to the Internet in their hotel rooms, some will receive a pop-up indicating that a well-known program requires an update. Users, recognizing the program, initiate the update download, and malware is introduced into the system. The FBI website doesn’t indicate what this malware does, but given that some malware has the ability to aid in bank fraud, identity theft and compromise computer security in general, it almost doesn’t matter.

To avoid this “scam,” the FBI suggests that those who plan to travel abroad should update their computer and programs immediately before going and, if an update is required while they are still abroad, they only do so from the program’s official website. Those who think they may have already been targeted this way are urged to immediately report the incident to their local FBI office, in addition to filing a complaint with IC3.

The last scam on the list is the telephone collection scam regarding delinquent payday loans. This scam is very intricate and continues to evolve; the scammer calls the victim to inform them that they are delinquent on a payday advance loan and that their funder is choosing to file a lawsuit against them. In some variations, the scammer poses as a representative of a law firm who has been asked to call and read the legal charges against you. After doing so, they will offer the victim a chance to settle the matter outside of court for a the sum of the alleged loan plus the incurred late fees.

When questioned the scammer will either deflect victims’ inquiries or grow verbally abusive toward them. They will not provide specific information on the alleged loan, but will attempt to scare the victim into ignoring that. They often possess the victim’s full name, primary e-mail address, the name of their banking institution and even their social security number, and use that information to sound authentic. They have been known to call the victim’s home, cell phone and place of employment to try to intimidate them into paying the money, and in some cases have even gone so far as to pose as a process server and appear at the victim’s home or place of employment to try to get the funds.

The FBI recommends that individuals who believe they have been victimized in this scam file a police report with the local authorities, contact their banking institutions and credit card companies, contact the three major credit bureaus and have them place an alert on their file and file a complaint through IC3. Another good idea in this case would be for the victim to inform his or her employer of the incident so that they aren’t blindsided if the scammer tries to call and threaten them as well. To prevent this sort of attack, people should be careful about what personal information they provide online, and if they do go looking for a payday loan, that they stick to a well-known and reputable company; don’t just give away personal information in a desperate search for emergency funds. Also, be sure to regularly check your computer for viruses and malware that could compromise its security.

Sources:

FBI – New Scams and Warnings: http://www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/e-scams

Internet Crime Complaint Center: http://www.ic3.gov/

June 27, 2012 TNL Staff

The Fourth of July — The very mention of the holiday conjures up images of the quintessential American dream: neighborhood barbeques set against a backdrop of sparkling fireworks, served up with a ice cold glass of freedom. Each year, Independence Day plays host to an outpouring of national pride as we come together to celebrate…

June 12, 2012 TNL Staff

Collard greens, barbecued chicken, peach cobbler — combine these soul foods and some blues or jazz music with a large group of people, and you’ve got a Juneteenth festival. For several years, UAA and Anchorage have hosted multiple Juneteenth celebrations the week of June 19, and after listening to live music and eating more food than is probably healthy, everyone goes home happy and looking forward to next June when they get to do it all again. But what’s the point? What is Juneteenth, and why do we celebrate it?

If you don’t know the answer, you’re not alone. Most people don’t seem to have a clue what Juneteenth is all about, and that really is a shame, because it’s more than worth celebrating.

On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers led by Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, proclaiming that the Civil War was over and that the slaves were all free. The slaves, understandably so, were shocked and excited over the news, and while some remained with their masters to work for wages, others left immediately to mend scattered families and start new lives for themselves. Juneteenth became a festival celebrating this new freedom.

The unique and most interesting part of this is that the announcement that sparked the joy and celebrations came two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation went into effect on January 1, 1863. There are many theories as to what delayed the enforcement in Texas, ranging from the lack of a Union foothold in the state until after the war down to the rumor that a messenger was murdered on the way to deliver the news to Texas. No matter what happened though, the slaves were still legally free two and a half years before they were made aware of it.

How many of you knew that? Most people think that enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation was immediate, and that slaves began walking off the plantations just as soon as they heard the news; in Texas, that couldn’t have been further from the truth. And unless you take the time to read the small print on the Juneteenth posters around campus or are curious enough to look it up online, you might never know the truth about this important time in American history: the day that slaves really became free.

UAA Student Activities does a great job with the annual Juneteenth barbecue and concert, but unless students are paying close attention, they can completely miss the point of it all, and that’s not fair to either Student Activities or the students, because so much hard work and planning goes into organizing the events.

TNL challenges Student Activities to up the educational ante on next year’s Juneteenth celebration: hold a public forum before the barbecue, schedule a guest speaker or even hand out informational pamphlets at the events themselves. All the hard work put into Juneteenth is worth more than students just showing up for free food and music; we should be assaulted with the knowledge of why Juneteenth is so important if we want to enjoy the results of your efforts.

May 30, 2012 TNL Staff

It has been roughly three weeks since President Barack Obama has publicly voiced his support of gay marriage, and both critics and supporters of his stance are still debating whether or not the announcement will ultimately help or hurt his reelection campaign. Given the recent announcement by the NAACP, the general ineffectiveness of One Million…

May 1, 2012 TNL Staff

Dear departing seniors, as the semester draws to a close, so does the year — congratulations, you have done it!
For many of you, the last few years have been the most different and difficult from anything you have ever known.

April 20, 2012 TNL Staff

The University Police Department is seeking the community’s assistance in locating Stryker L. McLane. McLane (pictured below) is charged with Misconduct Involving a Controlled Substance in the 4th Degree, a Class C Felony.  He is also charged with Resisting a Police Officer, a Class A Misdemeanor. McLane is a 20 year old male with a dark complexion.  He…

April 8, 2012 TNL Staff

Alejandra Buitrago and Andrew McConnell have been elected as USUAA President and Vice President, officially announced on Friday at 5pm. The two will assume the roles currently held by Ryan Buchholdt and Amie Stanley, beginning in the summer 2012 session. A total of 446 UAA students participated in this year’s USUAA election. Buitrago and McConnell…

February 23, 2012 TNL Staff

Heard about a “mental subject” running around campus? How about that animal attack? Or even missing something? Do you suspect larceny…? Find out in this week’s UPD Crime Blotter! All the suspicious shenanigans that happen on campus brought to you for your viewing pleasure. UPD Crime Log 2.10.12

February 15, 2012 TNL Staff

Curious if that kid in your building got caught for their housing violation? If that shady character you saw was ever questioned by the police? If that larceny was reported? Look no further! It’s all here, in this weeks UPD Crime Bulletin! UPD Crime Log 2.3.12

February 4, 2012 TNL Staff

Breakdown of the shady happenings around UAA campus between 1.26.12 and 2.03.12. Over 22 calls were investigated in the span of one week. Wondering if anything happened near you? Curious if that cop car you saw was investigating something? Figure it out in this weeks Crime Bulletin! Crime Log 1.26.12 Includes simple assaults, larcenies, hit…