Saturday, October 24, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
New York cops are arresting gay people on unconstitutional charges. - By Daniel Redman - Slate Magazine:
"In 1983, New York's high court struck down as unconstitutional a 1960s-era provision that made it illegal to cruise—that is, to hit on someone in a public place. And yet in the 26 years since, on thousands of occasions, the New York Police Department has continued to enforce the defunct law, historically used to target gay people.
The defendant in the 1983 case was a gay man arrested for striking up a conversation with a plainclothes police officer and asking him back to his house for sex. The court threw out the anti-cruising law, reasoning that the state couldn't criminalize an act anticipatory to sodomy when sodomy itself was constitutionally protected. (Two years earlier, the same court had found the state's anti-sodomy law unconstitutional.)
Whatever one may think of cruising and whether it should be prohibited, the court's ruling should have killed off the statute. Instead, in the 26 years of this law's odd posthumous career, district attorneys brought 4,750 prosecutions and judges convicted 2,550 defendants. For violating an imaginary law, these defendants paid a decidedly non-imaginary $70,000 in bail and $190,000 in court fees and fines. In the last 10 years, NYPD officers also issued 9,693 citations, forcing citizens to pay $71,000 in fees. The criminal records of these victims have never been expunged and the fees and fines have not been refunded.
...In March 2008, civil rights lawyers brought a class action in federal court on behalf of the thousands of people unconstitutionally arrested, cited, and prosecuted under the defunct anti-cruising law. In May, Judge Shira Scheindlin ordered the City of New York to send letters to the police, district attorneys, and trial judges to remind them that the anti-cruising law was void and should no longer be enforced. NYPD brass sent out a bulletin to officers stating that in each officer's personal copy of the penal code, the law should be "stricken by drawing a line through it in black ink." (After 26 years, the law was still on the books because the legislature had never repealed it.)
Apparently, the NYPD ran out of black ink. From the day that the bulletin went out until now, 85 additional summonses for cruising have been issued... the most recent summons for violating the anti-cruising law was issued in September 2009—nearly a year and a half after the NYPD's bulletin went out. "It is truly shocking that after 26 years and multiple court orders, they just can't stop doing it," said McGregor Smyth, a lawyer at the Bronx Defenders who is counsel for the plaintiffs in the class action. The NYPD did not respond to several requests for comment..."
Thursday, October 22, 2009
"So you’re a prosecutor in a county that has seen well more than its fair share of wrongful convictions over the years, including in several capital cases. Many of those innocence cases were uncovered by a journalism class at a nearby university. That class has just uncovered yet another possible wrongful conviction. What do you do?
If you’re Cook County, Illinois State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, you start harrassing the journalism students."
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
PM - 20m kickboxing intervals - pullups, chins - Atlas L1&3
10/20 - AM - Atlas L1&3
PM - 20m kickboxing intervals - shoulder press, db row, pushups, curls, db squats, pullovers, sldl, leg raise - Atlas L1&3
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
"...the average American commits about three federal felonies per day... We're no longer governed by laws, we're governed by the whims of lawyers..."
Which, luckily, might take out a good chunk of the politicians. Joking, of course. But still.
We're All Felons, Now - Reason Magazine:
""There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws." —Ayn RandViolent crime is down America, across the board, spanning two decades... Crime rates have been plummeting since the early 1990s to such an extent that explaining the drop has become something of an obsession among criminologists and sociologists.
...According to Gallup, since 2002 the percentage of the American public who think violent crime is on the rise has been increasing, even as actual violent crime rates continue to fall.
...From the time Richard Nixon made crime a national political issue in the 1970s, we've been conditioned by politicians and public officials to live in perpetual fear. Our baseline is that there's too much crime, and that we aren't doing enough about it.
...Fear makes for easy politics. It both wins votes and primes us to give government more power at the expense of personal liberty. And that's certainly true when it comes to crime.
...The result has been a one-way ratchet effect on crime policy. We're perpetually expanding police and prosecutorial power, a process only occasionally slowed by the courts. Congress and state legislatures rarely take old criminal statutes off the books, but they're always adding new ones. A 2008 report from the Heritage Foundation estimates that at the federal level alone, Congress has been adding about 55 new crimes to the federal criminal code each year since the 1980s. There are now about 4,500 separate federal crimes. And that doesn't include federal regulations, which are increasingly being enforced with criminal, not administrative, penalties. It also doesn't include the increasing leeway with which prosecutors can enforce broadly written federal conspiracy, racketeering, and money laundering laws. And this is before we even get to the states' criminal codes.
In his new book, the Boston-based civil liberties advocate and occasional Reason contributor Harvey Silverglate estimates that in 2009, the average American commits about three federal felonies per day. And yet, we aren’t a nation of degenerates. On the contrary, most social indicators have been moving in a positive direction for a generation. Silverglate argues we're committing these crimes unwittingly. The federal criminal code has become so vast and open to interpretation, Silverglate argues, that a U.S. Attorney can find a way to charge just about anyone with violating federal law. In fact, it's nearly impossible for some business owners to comply with one federal regulation without violating another one. We're no longer governed by laws, we're governed by the whims of lawyers..."
Monday, October 19, 2009
Overheard in New York | Too Soon for a Heath Ledger Headline?:
"Six-year-old boy: Mom, did you know that Elvis Presley died of a drug overdose?
Mom: Well, that won't ever happen to you.
Six-year-old boy, angrily: How do you know?
--Atlantic Ave Station
Overheard by: Jon Good"
"Asian girl #1: Ew, I don't like the taste of beer.
Asian girl #2: Yeah, but if you don't drink beer and get used to the taste, people will date-rape you.
Overheard by: quesito"
10/19 - AM - Atlas L1&3
PM - Atlas L1&3
10/18 - AM - Atlas L1
10/17 - AM - Atlas L1, 5 Tibetans x14, 20m interval kickboxing
Lie to Me, House, Dollhouse, SNL, Parks and Recreation, Modern Family, Daily Show, The Colbert Report, Bored to Death, TUF, NCIS, Community, The Mentalist, The Office, The Simpsons, FlashForward, Iron Chef America Battle Octopus
Parks and Recreation - Fred Armison made this the best ep of the season
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - "I'm a full on rapist." I knew I watched this show for a reason.
Jamie Oliver's Ministry of Food - a cooking show with copious profanity? Sold. Actually, damned entertaining.
Having just finished reading Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol, figured I'd check out Angels and Demons [and re-watch The Da Vinci Code, since I only kinda sorta half watched it the last go around. Still the most annoying thing? The way the film version was pretty clearly breaking its own back not to offend the Christianists - who still lost their minds...] Actually read Angels and Demons years and years ago, before Brown blew up. Remember it as a decent, fun read. Brown catches a lot of heat from "elitists" of all stripes for his writing style, his cribbing of conspiracy theories and whatnot, but overall, as far as making it palatable for the mainstream [and yes, that probably does mean simplifying/dumbing it down a little] his stuff is entertaining. Both the books and the flicks. I mean, I read stuff like In God's Name: An Investigation into the Murder of Pope John Paul I and The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail damn near 15-20 years ago, so it's not that ground breaking for me [you know, in hindsight, my hometown didn't have a whole lot going for it, but apparently the local library wasn't half bad] - one reason I never got all that swept up in the Da Vinci Code popularity. And if you want more complex, thorough and more engaging conspiracy entertainment, then read Rex Mundi or the The Historical Illuminatus by Robert Anton Wilson [or the grandaddy of them all - The Illuminatus Trilogy by Wilson and Shea] but as far as material fit for distilling it down to a 2 hour film, Brown does servicable and entertaining work. Same kind of goofy conspiracy fun as stuff like the National Treasure films.
Though in checking out Angels and Demons Decoded via the History Channel, it did bug me that their one hat tip to the probable murder of Pope John Paul I was a possible Masonic angle. While the P2/Masons were probably involved in some way, going the way of the sexier Mason route as opposed to the far more likely Vatican Bank angle was a little disappointing. Cui bono and follow the money. But like I said, I read the rather convincing In God's Name a long time ago. Ah well.
Role Models - Paul Rudd + Sean William Scott = WIN. Funny.