Christian Preacher Spreads the Word – 5/30/2008

The warm afternoon of Wednesday, May 14 started as a joyous occasion for the De Anza College club Jews, Israelis and Friends, as members and officers celebrated the 60th anniversary of Israel’s establishment with chocolate and drinks.

For the De Anza Naqba Committee it was a time for managing a table with information against Israeli occupation of Palestine.

For local street preacher Mark Trout, however, it was a ripe opportunity to spread the message of Jesus Christ to both groups.

Trout first tried to spread his message to the Jews, Isralis and Friends Club “Israel@60” event booth. He read verses from the Bible about Jews to students and interpreted them in a manner that many who were present considered anti-Semitic. Trout then engaged in an argument with Yevgeniy Spektor, the DJ for the event, before being taken aside by two Foothill-De Anza Community College District Police officers and given a warning to stop.

Moving on to the Naqba Committee table, Trout projected his views about Islam, referring to the Muslim prophet Muhammad as a rapist and a pedophile.

A Muslim student, who wishes to remain unnamed, was walking to his class when he overheard the remarks. He felt so outraged that he shoved him in anger.

“I was defending my religion,” said the offended student.

Until police rushed in to quell the situation, Naqba committee members and other students held back both the offended student and Trout to prevent the violence from escalating.

“I resent Mark Trout’s demeaning comments toward women, homosexuals and communists,” said Stefan Hird, De Anza student.

Trout’s sermonizing offended many students in the area, who found him too aggressive.

“You don’t go to college to change your religion,” said DJ Spektor. “You go to learn.”

Police escorted Trout to the Administration Building, where Robert Griffin, vice president of Student Services and Institutional Research, questioned him. Another officer escorted the student to a patrol car near the Sunken Garden for questioning.

Trout was not charged with any crime but has the option to file an assault charge against the student who pushed him. Police told Trout it would be in his best interest to stay off the campus to avoid future problems.

Because Trout remained in the Free Speech Zone, which exists inside of the Hinson Campus Center patio on campus, he is entitled to say what he wants, police said. Yet many who were present said he was far outside of the zone, in which case administrators and campus police have the power to place a restraining order on him, banning him from campus grounds for disturbing the peace.

The Free Speech Zone was developed for students and guest organizations to practice free speech without disturbing the college’s learning environment. It was established after a lawsuit by an anti-abortion group a few years ago.

Acording to Police Chief Ron Levine, Trout is no stranger to De Anza or other institutions of higher learning in the Bay Area, as he has been known to give sermons on other campuses. In 2005, San Jose State University Police detained Trout for 15 minutes after a confrontation with one student.

Trout said he works for Steamers, a carpet-cleaning service, and is often seen preaching in his blue-collar cleaning uniform on weekday afternoons in and around the Hinson Campus Center. If anyone wants to reach him, he said, “Just call Steamer’s and ask for me.”

Written For La Voz Weekly
5/30/2008
Original Article: Christian Preacher Spreads the Word

De Anza Students March For Social Causes – 5/12/2008

International Workers’ Day was May 1, and while most De Anza College students went about their normal day, a coalition of clubs led by the Students For Justice spoke out on a wide range of issues such as oppression, immigration and global occupation.

Approximately 50 members of SFJ and students gathered in the L Quad at 11 a.m. with many participants choosing not to attend classes. They marched towards the Main Quad in a parade calling for an end to social injustice.

The demonstrators chanted, in both English and Spanish, “The people united will never be defeated,” a quote made famous during opposition to the dictatorship of the Chilean President Augusto Pinochet in the 1970s and 80s.

In the Main Quad, Pericardium, a local band, set up for a performance at the steps of the Learning Center, but was later told to relocate in front of the Main Quad fountain. W.I.S.E. 37 and the World Peace Buddhist club set up booths by the fountain in support for the demonstration.

The activists turned towards the S Quad and began to call for an end to occupation in different regions of the world. SFJ activists entered classrooms and encouraged students to walk out despite the objections of instructors.

The protestors then began to shout “F*** the police” as they advanced towards the Science Center. Several of the demonstrators swatted the windows in an attempt to get students’ attention, hoping they would be willing to sacrifice a day of class for their cause.

After passing the Science Center, they proceeded to the G Building, entering any room with students and an open door. They entered with a loudspeaker and the SFJ flag to get more students to join in their parade.

The march continued into the Hinson Campus Center, where dining students took a moment to look up at the demonstrators as they exited through the patio door. They passed the Sunken Garden with Foothill-De Anza police looking on.

They continued the march until they arrived back in the L Quad, then continued to the Main Quad and into the Learning Center with loudspeakers. The march ended as the activists chanted their call to action on the steps of the Learning Center and Pericardium began to perform by the fountain.

The remainder of the event was marked by music and spoken word performances as participants in the march declared to a crowd of onlookers the issues that they were protesting against.

Among the marchers was Yujin Yoshimura, a candidate for the position of vice president of administration in the De Anza Associated Student Body, speaking out against budget cuts in education.

Not all onlookers saw the demonstration as peaceful and productive. Some students viewed the event as disruptive to their learning environment and presenting a call to action in a threatening manner.

“I support what they’re doing, but I think they’re going about it the wrong way,” said Britt Parker, a De Anza student. “Protests are peaceful but their signs and actions indicate otherwise.”

Written For La Voz Weekly
5/12/2008
Original Article: De Anza Students March For Social Causes

A Virtual Revolution: Grand Theft Auto IV provides a new player experience – 5/12/2008

Niko Bellic, a Serbian veteran of the Bosnian War, arrives in the United States in hopes of finding the American dream.

When Bellic first steps foot on the docks of Liberty City, he’s excited to see his cousin Roman, who brags in his letters to Bellic of his success.

Sadly though, Roman’s story of fortune is in fact a story of debt.

For Bellic, this is one of many moments of disappointment he will experience on his journey to find what he desires on the streets of Liberty City.

But for the player, there are hardly any disappointing moments when they experience the world of “Grand Theft Auto IV” for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.

“GTA IV” is more of a revolution in console gaming than just another video game.

Thanks to the hardware of fourth generation consoles, this is not the Liberty City that players experienced in “GTA III”.

The city has been redesigned to resemble New York City, and Bellic no longer drives around on his own; a Global Positioning System is available to navigate his rides.

Furthermore, while most games just focus on showing off their shiny new graphics (and ignore elements such as plot and playability), “GTA IV” focuses on the smallest of details to provide the player with a spectacularly real adventure. Even Bellic’s bulletholes look genuine.

Combat and action aren’t ignored either. Both have receive a complete overhaul that improves the gaming experience, and the inclusion of rag doll physics and realistic blood splatter has made “GTA IV” the most violent game in the series yet.

The depiction of the Liberty City Police has also received a complete make over as officers patrol the streets wearing a variety of uniforms and armed with traditional law enforcement weapons.

The law is now more of a challenge than ever, as higher felonies will attract more than two police cars, and if you’re lucky, a helicopter.

Finally, as if to complete an already perfect experience, for the first time ever in “GTA” history there is option for multi-player gaming.

Up to a glorious 16 players can work together or fight it out in either a death match or a street race.

Excited yet? Well, this is only the tip of the iceberg.

Truly, this is an experience that words alone cannot explain. Try it for yourself and feel the amazing-ness that is the new “GTA IV”.

Written For La Voz Weekly
5/12/2009
Original Article: A Virtual Revolution: Grand Theft Auto IV provides a new player experience

Silent car killers – 5/5/2008

If a tough car is involved in an accident with a feeble car, is it the fault of the driver for not paying attention to his surroundings or is it the fault of the car itself for being too tough?

This is similar to the dilemma that has fallen upon Toyota Prius owners for the car’s near-silent engine, which now poses a risk to the blind pedestrian.

With many hybrids on the road, there have been growing concerns about the safety of blind pedestrians who rely on sound to get by. Legislation that would set a minimum sound level for vehicles may even be heard before Congress.

What next? Legislation that would make a car body more flimsy?

Given the attention the media has afforded such stories, it seems that this concern is more noteworthy than the 400,000 killed in Darfur or the 80 killed during the protests against Chinese oppression in Tibet.

Is it really necessary to pass laws to set a minimum sound level for vehicles as a substitute for drivers not being aware of who or what is on the road? If the law passes and cars become loud enough for people to hear, will it be okay to drive blindfolded?

Any one who has read the California Drivers License Handbook should know that motorists need to be aware of their surroundings and that pedestrians always have the right of way at crosswalks.

A motorist needs to be responsible when driving in areas with large numbers of people. It’s not like “Grand Theft Auto III” where there is a big cash reward for running over pedestrians, no matter how tempting it is.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, pedestrians account for 11 percent of motor vehicle fatalities. The most common cause of these accidents is negligence on the motorist’s part.

It is the driver’s responsibility to be aware of his surroundings and be fully alert to pedestrians crossing the road. Drivers shouldn’t be expected to rely on their engine sound to warn pedestrians of their presence.

The engine of the hybrid car is only quiet if the car is being driven at a slow speed, which is also safe in suburban neighborhoods where children are present. Traveling at such a speed should give the driver enough of an opportunity to be aware and plenty of time to stop. Unless, of course, the government changes the laws to raise the minimum speed in neighborhoods so the engines could be heard.

Would it be better to install a device in the cars which would emit a sound to warn both pedestrians and other drivers? Such a law will not make the roads safer for pedestrians, it will instead motivate drivers to rely on their engine noise to warn pedestrians rather then be aware of their surroundings.

Published for La Voz Weekly
5/5/2008
Original Link: Silent car killers