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Today's word on journalism

May 8, 2009

The Last WORD

The Fat Lady Sings, Off-Key, Drools

At about this time every year, like the swallows to Capistrano or the buzzards to Hinckley, Ohio, the WORD migrates to its summer musing grounds at the sanitarium —St. Mumbles Home for the Terminally Verbose.

The reason is clear, and never moreso than as this season —the WORD's 13th —peters out.

It's been a fraught year of high palaver and eye-popping transition, both good and not-so-much. An interminable presidential campaign saga finally did end, and in extraordinary and historic fashion. Meanwhile, the bottom and everything that's below the bottom fell out of the economy, with families, homes, entire industries and —of particular interest to WORDsters and the civic-minded —dozens of daily newspapers ("I don't so much mind that newspapers are dying--it's watching them commit suicide that pisses me off." --Molly Ivins). . . all evaporating. What replaces them, from the individual to the institutional to the societal? Are we looking at a future of in-depth Tweeting?

As any newsperson or firehorse knows, it's hard to turn your back on day-to-day catastrophe --we just have to look at the car wreck. But even the most deranged and driven need a rest. As philosopher Lilly Tomlin once observed, "No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up."

So this morning, as a near-frost hovered over northern Utah, the unmarked van pulled into the driveway and the gentle, soft-spoken men in the white coats rolled the WORD out of bed and into a straitjacket for the usual summer trip to St. Mumbles, where the blathering one will be assigned a hammock and fed soothing, healthy foods --like tapioca, dog biscuits and salmon --while recharging the essential muscles of cynicism, outrage, sarcasm, social engagement and high-mindedness, in preparation for the next edition.
Summer well, friends.

Speak up! Comment on the WORD at


Feedback and suggestions --printable and otherwise --always welcome. "There are no false opinions."

Hyrum man sentenced to three years to life in prison

By Caresa Alexander

March 6, 2009 | LOGAN A Hyrum man was sentenced Wednesday to three years to life in prison after he pleaded guilty to attempted murder with injury.

Rodolfo Rivas-Martinez, 23, waived his right to a preliminary hearing and was sentenced in 1st District Court. Rivas pleaded guilty to attempted murder with injury, a 1st-degree felony, and was sentenced to an indeterminate term of not less than three years and up to life in the Utah State Prison.

Attorney David Perry told Judge Thomas Willmore that sentencing was being requested because Rivas was on an INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) hold and would probably be deported.

Rivas spoke through an interpreter during the hearing. Willmore explained to Rivas his rights and what it would mean to give up those rights, along with the associated penalties. Rivas said he understood and just wanted to know the sentence.

Rivas was arrested Jan. 17 after he stabbed his girlfriend in the chest with a knife at their home in Hyrum.

Prosecutor Barbara Lachmar said a couple of days before the incident, Rivas threatened to kill his live-in girlfriend. She asked him to leave. Rivas continued the threats and also threatened to kill their 4-year-old son and himself.

According to Lachmar, Rivas called a friend and asked, "Do you have a body bag big enough to put Jessica into?" Rivas was also quoted as telling a friend that Jessica "was going to get a surprise." Lachmar said Rivas punched Jessica in the face while she was holding their son, then took her into the bedroom and held his hand over her mouth so she could not breathe. Rivas called a friend and they transported Jessica to the hospital.

Lachmar said had the case gone to trial, the physician who operated on Rivas' girlfriend would have testified. Lachmar said the physician was prepared to testify the steak knife, which was 5 to 6 inches long, was a short distance from the aorta. Had the aorta been severed, the victim would have bled to death on the way to the hospital. Lachmar later said the victim would have died if not for the good work of the surgeons.

When Willmore asked Rivas why he wanted to be sentenced and not wait, Rivas said, "I just want to start my time."

"Why did you do this to her?" asked Willmore.

"I was under the influence of drugs," replied Rivas.

Willmore said that a lot of people under the influence of drugs don't stab their wife. "I don't understand why the violence escalated," said Willmore.

"I don't know," said Rivas.

According to the court documents, commitment will begin immediately with Rivas remanded to Cache County Sheriff's custody for transportation to the prison. In addition to the prison sentence, Rivas is required to pay a $10,000 fine plus a surcharge of $8,525.


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