On this day after July 4, a few postscripts:

First, a nice, brief article debunking the social conservatives’ constant refrain that the U.S. is a “Christian nation.”  (Thanks, Jimmie!)

Second, if America’s history were presented as a Facebook page, how would it read?  The NY Times‘s Op-Ed page has a good idea.  You’ll get a chuckle, when you aren’t a little slack-jawed, that is, at how some significant points in U.S. history may be converted to the Facebook vernacular.


Saying More Than Intended Department

It was probably solely coincidental, but last night we switched from “WWF Raw” on the USA network (one aspect of our country, not in my mind its shining star) to Alexandra Pelosi’s excellent documentary portraying new citizens caught at the moment of taking the oath in all fifty states, one of the unfailingly, totally uplifting experiences that still occur in this country .

It’s the sort of thing that, for all my cynicism and anti-authoritarianism, causes tears to well up and a lump to rise.  If you have HBO, and failed to see it last night, catch a rerun.

(Notwithstanding HBO’s relative vast superiority as programming, this being the U.S. I’m sure a much larger audience was watching WWF Raw.)


Catching Up Department

A few snippets from recent installments of The Agitator:

  • A sign replicated in various phrasings recently, this one reading “If you don’t like gay marriage, blame straight people.  They’re the ones who keep having gay babies.”
  • TSA required a 95-year-old woman, partially disabled, to remove her adult diaper.  (Offered without editorial comment — none needed, I should think.)
  • Documents from Arizona police telling cops to search arrestees’ (including possibly those subjected to traffic stops) iPhones for certain apps, including OpenWatch, an app which permits the user to surreptitiously record activity without the subject knowing he’s being recorded.
  • Charges against the Rochester (NY) woman arrested for videotaping cops while standing on her front lawn were dismissed, but cops got back — persons attending a community meeting to support the woman received tickets if they were parked more than the mandated twelve inches from the curb.
  • A report from the UK’s The Guardian about women in the U.S. arrested for murder if their pregnancy is terminated prematurely due to causes like drug use by the mother, and the infant dies.
  • Another report of an early morning FBI raid on an innocent household whose unsecured wireless system permitted a next-door neighbor to download child porn.
  • On the plus side (sort of), if you use faith healing on a sick child in Oregon and the child dies, you no longer have a defense.  (Amazing to me that you ever did!)


Meanwhile, From the ACLU, Department

Some developments in civil liberties:

  • The ACLU is suing the District of Columbia regarding violation of Jerome Vorus’s civil rights when he was detained by DC police and told it was illegal to photograph them.  This is a case I’ve been following for some time, and Vorus has had other experiences with illegal police interference with his photography — and he is only 20.  This lawsuit has potential national implications.

“That’s part of our right of free speech, and the police ought to know that citizens can do that just as the police can take pictures of citizens out on the street,” said Arthur Spitzer, of the ACLU.

The ACLU filed suit in U.S. District Court Thursday morning saying that since Vorus wasn’t interfering with police work, the officers violated his First and Fourth Amendment rights.

  • The NY CLU is suing New York City and its police department over a controversial program that permits officers to stop and search cabs participating in the program.  The CLU contends that cops have extended the program to unlawful searches of the cabs’ passengers and their belongings.

In at least two cases, the NYCLU alleges that passengers were told they were subject to police questioning and searches because they [were] riding in participating vehicles. The lawsuit states that nothing in the program allows officer to “detain, question, frisk, or search passengers without independent suspicion of wrongdoing.”


The NYCLU’s suit, filed in Manhattan federal court Thursday, seeks an injunction prohibiting NYPD officers from detaining, questioning or searching passengers based solely on the fact that the liveries and taxis are enrolled in the program.

“We’re not challenging the program in general but we are challenging the police pulling passengers out of the cars and searching them without any suspicion or cause,” said Christopher Dunn, the NYCLU’s associate legal director.

More ACLU stuff tomorrow, I hope.


A Possibly Bright Idea Department

What if your attorney says to you, “Stephen, if you are ever pulled over or detained by police, as your attorney I direct you to record the incident, and if you are challenged about it, you are to tell the cop that you are doing so at the direction of your attorney and that the recording is attorney work product”?  I don’t know, but it might be worth a try.


At shorter than five feet tall, she was a compact model with an athlete’s body.

This entry was posted in Civil Liberties, Movies & TV, Uncategorized, War on Photography, War on Travel and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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