WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) — The U.S. Military Academy removed a video clip of the football team’s postgame locker-room celebration after its upset win over Temple and is investigating whether a team prayer violated the religious freedom of the players.
West Point spokesman Francis J. DeMaro Jr. said Thursday that a third party made allegations the video violated the First Amendment rights of some of the cadets. DeMaro said the video, which was posted on social media, was removed pending the inquiry, which was first reported by Army Times.
Mikey Weinstein, president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, said head coach Jeff Monken crossed the line after the game last Friday night in Philadelphia when he asked a staff assistant to conduct a prayer that ended with Jesus.
“In this case, Coach Monken chose the wrong time, the wrong place and the wrong manner,” Weinstein said Thursday. “He can’t tell anybody, put your hand on someone and let’s pray. You can’t do it, particularly when you’re the head coach (of a public school).”
Weinstein said the video received 232,000 views and 2,000 Facebook shares. He said he started getting “inundated” with phone calls, texts and emails, including 44 from West Point graduates, 40 members of the academy faculty and staff, and six football players, prompting a call to West Point Superintendent Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen.
Weinstein, who said the video was replaced by an edited version, said he was expecting Monken to offer an apology later Thursday.
“We assume that there’s going to be an apology from the coach to the team,” Weinstein said. “We are assuming there’s an admission there was a misstep.”
Weinstein said Army athletic director Boo Corrigan was putting procedures in place with all coaches at the academy that will prevent a similar situation from happening. Because of his relationship with Caslen, Weinstein said he does not plan to file a third-party inspector general’s complaint on the issue.
The MRFF, which claims 47,300 clients, questioned a practice by the Air Force Academy football team late last year after players began kneeling in prayer prior to games. The academy found it was within regulations.
WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal appeals court expressed concerns Thursday about the prospect of ordering the Obama administration to release graphic videos of a former Guantanamo Bay inmate being force-fed during a hunger strike.
Judges hearing arguments in the long-running legal dispute considered whether any First Amendment interest in releasing the footage is outweighed by possible harm to national security.
The Associated Press and 15 other news organizations say the public has a constitutional right to see the videos.
The government says the tapes are classified and warns they could be used as propaganda by extremist groups to incite anti-American sentiment.
U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler last year rejected the government’s concerns as vague and speculative. She ordered the videos released with redactions to protect the identities of U.S. personnel, but the release has been on hold pending appeal.
The three-judge appeals panel gave no obvious indication of how they would rule. But at times, they pressed lawyers on both sides over how much deference courts should give to the government’s interest in protecting national security.
The videos show former Guantanamo Bay prisoner Abu Wa’el Dhiab being forcibly removed from his cell, strapped to a restraining chair and force-fed his meals through a tube.
The Syrian native was held at Guantanamo for 12 years before being released in 2015 and resettled in Uruguay with five other detainees. During his last four years in detention, he joined other detainees in a hunger strike to protest their confinement. He tried to stop government officials from force-feeding him, a process he describes as torture.
Justice Department lawyer Catherine Dorsey told the judges the government had no expectation the videos would ever be made public when they were offered under seal as evidence in Dhiab’s civil case.
“There is no First Amendment right to these classified videos,” she said.
Even if the First Amendment comes into play, she said, national security concerns take precedence because the videos “can directly be used to incite violence.”
David Schulz, representing the media organizations, argued that the public has a significant interest in seeing the videos to know how the government is treating terror suspects held at the detention facility.
Under the administration’s logic, Schulz said, the more objectionable the government’s conduct, the more likely government officials will argue it should be hidden from public view.
“That can’t be right,” he said.
Schulz also said the government had not offered a “logical and plausible basis” to show that disclosing the tapes would lead to violence against the nation.
But Judge Stephen Williams said the possibility of a violent response to the videos was only one of the government’s concerns. U.S. officials have also said disclosure could compromise prison security and endanger military personnel by encouraging other detainees to become uncooperative.
Judge Judith Rogers noted that lower courts often defer to the concerns of correctional officers in other cases and wondered why that wouldn’t apply here.
Schulz said the trial judge did give deference to the government’s concerns, but concluded it didn’t meet the standard of showing “serious damage” to national security.
Dhiab has since begun another hunger strike in Uruguay and is demanding he be allowed to leave the South American country.
President Barack Obama indicated early in his presidency that he wanted to close the prison at Guantanamo, but he’s been blocked by Congress. Obama said Thursday he is not ready to concede that the facility will remain open when he leaves office.
The government has been steadily releasing prisoners and the Pentagon says 61 detainees now remain there.
NEW YORK (AP) — Facebook is adding an “instant video” feature to text messages within its Messenger app. This means users can send each other videos while they are texting in the app, in case words are not quite enough.
This is different from video calls, which have been available in Messenger since 2015. The latest feature is for those times when you don’t necessarily want to make a full-fledged video call, but find that a photo or text won’t do. Maybe you’re walking by a prolific street performer and want to share a video with a friend you’re texting, or share a baby giggle with your partner.
To send instant video, both you and the recipient have to have Messenger open. Tap on the video icon to start sharing real-time video.
Resilient is the word I think best describes the people of Louisiana. You have to be here. Just over a decade ago the gulf coast region was slammed by Hurricane Katrina, a category 5 hurricane with max wind speeds of 174 miles per hour, causing over 100 billion dollars in damage, and contributing to the deaths of nearly 2-thousand people. Then in 2010, gulf coast residents endured the worst oil spill in U.S. history and clean-up efforts took years to get the area back to normal again. Now, the residents are dealing with the country’s worst natural disaster in over 3 years since Sandy made landfall in the Northeastern part of the U.S.
Historic floods ravaged areas around Baton Rouge, La. killing 13 people and damaging at least 40-thousand homes. Flooding began August 12th and continued for multiple days causing tens of thousands of people to evacuate their homes. I recently traveled to the devastated area. The clean-up effort is still underway and the people here can still use a lot of help.
As I traveled through communities like Denham Springs, Livingston and Albany, I saw the roads lined with piles of people’s possessions. Water rushed into many of these homes destroying everything. While many people are lucky to still be alive in some cases…it’s heart breaking to see their memories and hard work sitting on their front lawns ready to be scooped up and hauled away by FEMA.
Their homes are unlivable; just a shell. Many are living with friends, in shelters, and at hotels. Some of these people didn’t have flood insurance because flooding just isn’t typical in this area. No one here really expected it to ever happen. I’ve heard people refer to it as the 500 year flood. It’s going to take a while to restore a sense of normalcy here. From what I read and the people I talked with, able body people are needed here to help with the clean-up so I decided to make my way south to do my best to help some of the people in need in Louisiana.
I spent time with a couple living north of Albany, LA, Joanne and Roy Hobbs. The couple in their 60s was jarred awake at 2am on August 12th by a wall of water washing through their home. They were forced out through a rushing river of water to their neighbors across the street who owned a home with a second story. They stayed there until the National Guard came to rescue them hours later.
Once the water receded they came back to their home to find everything they owned damaged by the flood waters. Even the walls had to be torn down.
I spent two days working with the Hobbs to transport their damaged belongings to the curb to be picked up and disposed of. In the blazing Louisiana heat and humidity we hustled to move furniture, damp dry wall, carpet, electronics and pretty much everything this family had worked so hard to build and experience. What’s even more heart-breaking is Roy lost his home and possessions during Hurricane Katrina. He moved away from typical flood zones because he didn’t want to have to deal with disasters like that again. Unfortunately, he is now too familiar and rebuilding once again. I guess it is tough to predict a flood like this.
It was a good feeling knowing I helped this family and was able to get all of their stuff moved out of their front yard. They said it was the first time in a couple weeks their home actually looked like a home again from the outside and not a junk yard.
After spending time with the Hobbs family, I moved to one of the areas most severely damaged by the flood, Denham Springs, LA. Driving through the area it was tough to find a home not impacted by the flooding. Here I met with an organization “Operation Blessing” a disaster relief service helping to prepare meals for people in the community who are struggling after losing everything in the floods. I helped cook and clean for about 5 hours and there was a constant flow of people coming through looking for a meal to get them through the rebuilding process and simply to the next day. It was rewarding working with a variety of volunteers from around the country from Texas to Michigan traveling to Louisiana to help. It goes to show how many good people are out there.
It was tough seeing the destruction and people’s lives turned upside down but I am thankful I had the opportunity to help some really great people in Louisiana. The clean-up and rebuilding will take months and years to complete but the people here as always will bounce back with love, positive spirits and hard work.
Virtual reality has moved into the classroom, with a host of online resources to allow students to watch 360-degree videos. Young people can search YouTube for these navigable videos and even use a Google Cardboard for a true virtual reality experience.
So how can students create their own virtual reality experiences? Recently I had the opportunity to visit Unarthodox, a special space in New York City that hosts classes designed to promote creativity and self-expression. One of their newest classes focuses on virtual reality and gives participants a chance to create their own videos. I had the chance to ask the folks at Unarthodox a few questions about how to create virtual reality videos.
For our introductory class, we use an entry-level camera. Specifically, the Ricoh Theta S, which shoots 360 degree video at 1080p.
YouTube is definitely a very accessible way to watch 360 videos; however, recent changes to iOS mean that iPhone users are locked out of 360 videos and have to download a separate app. We’re also exploring sharing and viewing through Facebook, but it’s still very early to call any one option the “best.” Everyone wants to be the “Netflix of VR,” but as we’ve seen with the revolution of Hulu, Vimeo, Netflix, Amazon, etc., people will ultimately go wherever the best content is.
With any new platform and technological evolution, there’s a growth in excitement, which translates to motivation. Children are naturally intrinsically motivated, and if you increase the amount of options they have to express themselves and lower the barriers to do so, they’re more likely to accumulate whatever skills they need to create their vision, including literacy skills.
Virtual reality is an exciting tool that can connect to your curriculum. If you’ve tried using VR in your classroom, share your experiences below!
Monica Burns is an Author, Speaker, EdTech & Curriculum Consultant and Apple Distinguished Educator. Visit her site ClassTechTips.com for more ideas on how to become a tech-savvy teacher.