The name Robert Gladden Jr. might be much better known today if it weren’t for Jesse Wasmer.
Gladden is a 15-year-old in suburban Baltimore who’s accused of firing a shotgun at random in the cafeteria of his high school Monday, seriously wounding an intellectually disabled classmate. Wasmer is a guidance counselor at the school.
Witnesses said that after the first shot was fired, Wasmer tackled Gladden and held him down until police arrived. The only other shot Gladden got off struck the ceiling.
“It just talks about his character, that he would be willing to put his life in danger to save these guys,” one student said afterward.
The truth is our nation’s schools are filled with folks like Jesse Wasmer, men and women who love their jobs and are willing to go to extraordinary lengths to serve — and at times protect — their students.
If only crickets could eat a lot of mosquitoes.
Blame the mild winter on two outbreaks, one of West Nile virus transmitted by mosquito bites and the other of crickets.
The cricket explosion is blamed on ideal breeding conditions for crickets and less-than-ideal breeding conditions for the insect’s natural predators. Mosquitoes need water for breeding but not for living or for biting. The hot weather has actually spurred their development; it won’t stop until freezing temperatures hit.
West Nile symptoms typically start appearing three or more days after the bite from a carrying insect. The virus has taken the lives of five Oklahomans so far this season. Being forewarned means protecting your forearms and other body parts from mosquito bites as summer rolls into fall.
As for the crickets, they’re a nuisance but at least they don’t foster a dread disease.
The term “pothead” has long been used to describe someone as being less-than-bright. Now that characterization is backed by scientific data.
New research concludes teenagers who routinely smoke marijuana experience a long-term drop in IQ. The study tested the IQ of more than 1,000 13-year olds in New Zealand, then conducted five follow-up interviews through the years, and concluded with another IQ test when the individuals turned 38.
The study recorded mental decline only for participants who regularly smoked marijuana before age 18. Many teenagers will turn down a cigarette because of its association with health problems, but see marijuana as harmless.
For a government survey, roughly 23 percent of American high school students reported smoking marijuana, compared with just 18 percent who smoked cigarettes. It appears that if they smoke enough marijuana, they may lose the ability to mentally make that distinction.
Who needs more drilling here in America to reduce our dependence on foreign oil? Not the Obama administration, which this week finalized rules requiring that average gas mileage for new cars and trucks nearly double — to 54.5 miles per gallon — by 2025.
The administration says the changes will leave us less reliant on foreign energy, save motorists money at the fuel pump and cutting greenhouse gas emissions. But Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney correctly points out that meeting the new standards will require more-expensive vehicles that will cancel out the savings consumers realize from filling up less frequently.
The gas mileage rules will be phased in gradually and will be reviewed in 2018. Perhaps by then we’ll be well on our way, under different leadership in the White House, to reaching oil independence through smart drilling and exploration programs instead of gimmicks.
The culture wars took a strange turn this week in Tulsa when it was announced that an atheist would give the opening prayer at the Tulsa City Council meeting.
Dan Nerren, founder of the Humanist Association of Tulsa, said he’s likely the first to offer a secular invocation at the meeting, which typically begins with a prayer offered by a local religious leader.
Nerren said his prayer wouldn’t invoke any deity, but would invoke … the council. That may be small comfort to Tulsans who are all too familiar with the history of division and ineffectiveness on the council in past years.
It’s one thing for a person to declare himself an atheist, and something else entirely to put one’s faith in the ability of fallible politicians who constantly prove their fallibility. History suggests that’s a true leap of faith.
Concerns about gang members using clothing from sports teams to identify themselves is what contributed to the district implementing the policy several years ago. But Cooper is 5 years old. He’s in kindergarten. “I’m pretty sure he’s not a gangbanger,” his father said.
The teacher who ordered Cooper to reverse his shirt was only following policy. But that’s the trouble with some policies — they can remove all common sense from the equation. Those charged with carrying out such policies figure that it’s better to rigidly adhere to what’s in the manual than risk getting called onto the carpet by a superior for not doing so.
The school district plans to review the policy. It should.
Meantime, a nod to Cooper’s parents. They weren’t happy about the incident, which embarrassed their son, but instead of throwing a fit they counseled the boy thusly: “We explained to him that these are the rules, and we have to follow the rules,” dad Chris Barton said. “But we don’t think that this rule is correct.”
Support for a Barack Obama second term is surging in Oklahoma, rising from 27 percent in May to 29 percent in August.
Yes, we’re being facile in our use of the word “surging,” a term only a spin doctor would apply in this situation.
SoonerPoll.com says Mitt Romney has the support of 58 percent of Oklahoma voters statewide. The amount is slightly higher in Oklahoma City and lower in Tulsa. Polling took place before Romney named Paul Ryan, whose wife has Oklahoma connections, as his running mate.
Obama lost all 77 counties in 2008; indications are that he won’t do much better this time around. Then again, a percentage point “surge” here and another one there and pretty soon you’re talking about Obama reaching 35 percent!
That would be one point higher than he got last time out. Romney wasn’t the choice of Oklahoma Republicans in the presidential primary, but neither was Obama in the Democratic primary four years earlier.
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol has changed how it deals with pursuits that are initiated by other law enforcement agencies. OHP troopers will now assist other agencies only after being asked to help.
These requests can come from officers who work for the other agencies, or through their dispatch centers. But simply being notified that a chase is under way “shall not be construed as a request for OHP assistance,” according to the new order. Patrol officials said the change has been considered for some time, and that there wasn’t one specific incident that prompted the change.
“It’s a good policy. It’s something we’ve needed for a long time,” OHP spokesman Capt. Chris West tells the Tulsa World.
Pursuits can be dangerous for all vehicles involved and for motorists not involved. If this change helps reduce that, it will have been worth it.
We’ve urged the Oklahoma Senate to increase legislative transparency in that chamber by posting committee votes online and providing audio and video archives of floor debates and committee activity. So we’re pleased the Senate has announced that all materials presented during legislative interim studies will be posted online.
Those materials will include lists of speakers, Power Point presentations and other information.
Interim studies are often used to lay the groundwork for proposals tol be filed in the coming legislative session, and they can cover controversial issues. Providing citizens easier access to the material presented during those proceedings is an important reform. The meetings are also streamed live online, although they aren’t yet archived for review after the fact.
More still needs to be done, particularly recording and posting all proceedings and votes online, but the Senate is moving in the right direction.
Simply agreeing to let Tulsa County residents decide a proposed sales tax extension got Republican County Commissioners Fred Perry and John Smaligo in trouble with fellow GOP members.
The Tulsa County Republican Party County Committee voted overwhelmingly last weekend to censure Perry and Smaligo. The committee comprises all GOP county office-holders, as well as precinct chairs and vice chairs.
Committee members oppose a plan to extend a 0.6 percent county sales tax to pay for bond-financed public works projects and upgrades to city-owned industrial facilities at Tulsa International Airport. They apparently felt betrayed that Perry and Smaligo would have the nerve to give county voters a say in the issue.
If the proposal passes in November, the two councilors can expect to be labeled as having supported it, even if they did no such thing. Alas, that’s life in today’s GOP.