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Total Freedom and Draft Beer 

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Total Freedom and Draft Beer

In a bold step toward achieving total freedom, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft recently lifted a ban on FBI agents spying on everyday Americans at political rallies, in churches, in brew pubs and miniature golf courses.

Law-abiding citizens need not fear the eye of Big Brother, the Bush administration cautioned, unless, of course, they’re doing something wrong, like the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was doing in the ’60s; like anti-war protestors were doing in the ’70s; and like other groups were doing in the ’80s who didn’t favor the Reagan administration’s war against Central American self-determination.

When it comes to the War on Terrorism, liberties must be sacrificed in order to save freedom—total freedom.

• The broad new powers for the FBI come after revelations that agency brass were unable to connect those troublesome dots that might have led to the terrorists before Sept. 11. FBI Director Robert Mueller unveiled a major reorganization of the agency designed to let agents actually think for themselves—a move some see as revolutionary.

The new dictum comes on the heels of whistle-blower FBI Agent Coleen Rowley, who wrote to Mueller noting that Minneapolis field agents who wanted to search the computer of Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called 20th hijacker, were stonewalled by higher-ups.

• In an unrelated note, a spokesman for the attorney general said the breasts of female statues in the Department of Justice would remained covered. Connecting the dots—no. Covering the dots, well, perhaps.

• In news closer to home, the managers of The Salt Lake Tribune have extended an olive branch to the publisher of the Deseret News in the 18-month-old legal battle for the morning paper. It all began in Trib Editor James E. Shelledy’s Sunday, May 25 column, when he said the two parties should make amends. To some, it looked like the hauling up of a white flag after months of indignation from the Trib managers, who held that their contract to buy back the paper was as good as gold.

• In an earlier ruling, Judge Ted Stewart who sits on Salt Lake City’s federal bench, noted that indeed, the Trib managers’ option was valid. But the icing on that cake, Brother Stewart ruled, is that the Deseret News has the right to veto any sale of the paper as outlined in the joint operating agreement that created the Newspaper Agency Corp.

What it could mean is that, like a bad marriage in a previous generation, the parties will have to stay together. So now everyone’s making nice-nice, the sharpened daggers are out of sight—at least for the time being.

• Waiting in the wings—or should we say catbird seat—is Dean Singleton of Denver’s MediaNews Group Inc. He is now the official owner of the Tribune and may end up keeping it or selling it for a nice, little sum somewhere between $200 million and $300 million. Well, it’s only money.

• And finally from our Travel Log: Students at the University of Wisconsin in Madison can order a variety of beers at the campus Student Union at lunch or when just hanging out. Non-students, however, no matter their age, must have “Visitor” I.D. before being served a pint at Der Ratskeller. Pretty much the opposite of Utah.

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More by Christopher Smart

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