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Humpback Rocks

Law enforcement officers vow to serve and protect their communities. We appreciate the difficult job that Richmond’s finest — and officers with every other police department — undertake every day they go to work. A law officer never knows when an encounter could go awry, demanding split-second decision-making. Sometimes events take a tragic turn. All too often, those are the stories that make the news. Citizens seldom hear of the myriad good deeds — both mundane and mighty — that those who serve perform every day. We experienced one of those good deeds earlier this week. Recently a set of keys was turned in to the Third Precinct. They sat in a drawer, unclaimed and abandoned — until Tuesday, when Walking/Bicycle Officer Jennifer Ward decided she was going to find their owner. Ward called the fitness center listed on one of the customer key tags and from there tracked down this scribe’s cellphone number. It was a delight to receive her friendly call, and her kind offer to hand-deliver the keys to The Times-Dispatch went above and beyond what was expected. Public affairs officials at the Richmond Police Department say the thoughtful gesture is typical of Officer Ward. Her friendly attitude and outgoing demeanor are a credit to Richmond’s finest. Our thanks to her and all who serve.

Tuesday, June 11, is primary day for local elections across the commonwealth. Polls will be open from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m. Why bother to vote in the primary? Sure, the general election might determine who wins a race (every seat in the House of Delegates and the Senate is on the ballot, by the way), but it’s the primary voters who decide what names will be on November’s ballots. A typical turnout for a primary is about 5%. If you don’t vote, don’t complain. (If you do vote, remember to bring a government-issued photo ID.) Voting is a right, not a privilege.

An Associated Press report released Wednesday says Border Patrol agents apprehended 132,887 people in May, setting a record with 84,542 adults and children taken into custody. Another 11,507 people were children traveling alone, and 36,838 were single adults. Border Patrol officials continue to stress that the agency has neither the money nor the facilities to handle the surge. If that rate of apprehensions continues, 1.5 million migrants or more could be taken into custody this year alone. And those are just the ones who have been caught. Congress must address the situation.

Football rivalries between military services are one thing — but cyber attacks? According to the Military Times, the Air Force has opened an investigation “against the Navy for cyber intrusion into its network.” A Navy prosecutor in a high-profile war crimes case took it upon himself to embed a hidden tracking device into emails sent to defense attorneys, including an Air Force lawyer. The malware was sent in an attempt to discover who was leaking sensitive information to the media. Upon finding the malicious software, the Air Force lawyer reported the intrusion. A security manager quickly discovered the tracking device allowed its sender full access to the hacked computer and every file it contained. The malware also inserted itself into other private and commercial networks as well as the Navy-Marine Corps intranet and the Air Force’s email network. Defense attorneys have accused prosecutors of misconduct. The lead defense attorney told the Military Times, “What this constitutes is a warrantless surveillance of private citizens, including the media, by the military. We should all be terrified.” As the story notes, the Navy’s use of tracking software to spy on defense attorneys and the media harms “both the freedom of the press and defendants’ ability to receive a fair trail.” The Navy is supposed to be supporting and defending the Constitution, not undermining it.

Last week we noted the destructive overcrowding of climbers on Mount Everest. The hundreds of alpinists are causing severe problems — health issues, garbage buildup and environmental damage are just a few. Even with the best equipment, Everest’s harsh climate is incompatible with human life. Hundreds have died in their attempts to climb the mountain. Many of their bodies remain where they fell. Not exactly our idea of great fun. This past weekend, however, we did some mountain climbing right here in Virginia. Humpback Mountain is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains between Augusta and Nelson counties. Humpback Rocks, an outcropping located near the summit, is a rigorous one-mile climb. Sure, with an elevation of 3,080 feet, it’s only about 1/10th of Everest’s 29,029 feet. But, the views from Humpback are absolutely stunning. Although there were many other hikers while we were there, there were no queues waiting to reach the peak, the trail was garbage-free and not a tragically abandoned corpse was in sight.

— Robin Beres

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