September 5th, 2009

It is now illegal to take pictures in a school zone 0

By Carlos Miller


Joel Chandler, a Florida resident whose blog is called I Am Troublemaker, tells the following story involving his 19-year-old son.

His son, an amateur photographer, had just received a speeding ticket in a school zone by the Lakeland Police Department in Central Florida.

Chandler recommended he go back to the location where he received a ticket to photograph the traffic lights to see if they were in compliance with state and federal standards.

While his son was taking the photos, including the one above, a Lakeland police officer told him that it was illegal to take pictures in a school zone.

I haven’t heard that one before but it doesn’t surprise me in the least.

The cop also told him that parents had complained to him about photographing children. He had only been there a few minutes. There doesn’t appear to be any kids in the photo. And even if there was, tough shit.

Then the cop demanded to see his photos, citing concerns with (yawn) terrorism.

Let me just let Chandler explain it:

In fact the school grounds are not visible in any of the pictures he took nor are any children visible.  The officer insisted on handling his camera and reviewing all of the pictures

When my son politely challenged the officer by asking exactly what law he was referring to the officer cited concerns with terrorism but ultimately conceded that in fact there was no law prohibiting the use of photographic equipment on a public road.

Thankfully the incident ended without violence or any further harassment by Law Enforcement.  In retrospect I’m glad that my son was able to experience what he and I have discussed so many times:  a healthy democracy demands a fundamental distrust of authority.

September 4th, 2009

Death of a U.S. Marine 0

By Carlos Miller
Photo by Julie Jacobson/The Associated Press

Photo by Julie Jacobson/The Associated Press
Photo by Julie Jacobson/The Associated Press

Photo by Julie Jacobson/The Associated Press

Photo by Julie Jacobson/The Associated Press

The death of U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Bernard wasn’t that different than the hundreds of other Americans killed in Afghanistan since the beginning of the war. Nor the thousands of Americans who have been killed in the Iraq war.

Bernard was wounded August 14 by a rocket-propelled grenade during an ambush by Taliban soldiers. He later died on an operating table as doctors tried to save him. He was 21 years old.

His name would have barely broken into the news cycle had it not been for a photograph taken by Associated Press photographer Julie Jacobson in the seconds after he was wounded showing his fellow Marines trying to rescue him.

And that photo has now stirred a controversy reaching the highest levels of the Pentagon after Secretary of Defense Robert Gates asked the Associated Press not to publish it.

But the A.P. stuck to their guns and distributed the photo to its clients anyway, allowing them to decide.

Most of the news organizations decided against running it. Even MSNBC decided not to run it before changing its mind.

However, MSNBC blacked the photo out, giving readers the opportunity to decide for themselves. Perhaps that was the best way to handle it. Kudos to them for running it.

Sometimes news is not pretty. Sometimes it is gruesome. Sometimes it is tragic. And sometimes it is shocking.

But it should always be true. It should always be honest. Even if its brutally honest.

While Bernard’s father wished that the photo would not run, believing it would demonstrate a lack of respect for his son, the opposite is true.

We can now stop for a moment in our busy lives to absorb the situation in Afghanistan. Whether you agree with the war or disagree with it, you cannot deny that Bernard paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Whether that sacrifice was to his country or to his government or to the corporations profiting from these wars, that will always be a point of debate.

But most of us will be able to empathize with Bernard and his family after viewing the photo, which is the only way to pay our respects.

However, the significance of that photo is far greater than this one death. It represents all the deaths in our two current wars, which total 5,130 as of today. It is not much different than the video that showed the slaying of Neda Soltani during the recent protests in Iran.

The photo gives us a taste of the wars that go beyond the usual press conference given by high-ranking military officials. It reveals a rare realism at a time when the Pentagon sets strict restrictions for journalists embedded with the military.

The Pentagon learned during the Vietnam War that an uncensored press is a powerful press. A press that is capable of changing public opinion. To them, an uncensored press is a dangerous press.

And that is the real reason why the Pentagon didn’t want this photo released.

So the real significance of this photo – and the fact that I am able to show it you tonight -  is that Bernard truly did die defending our freedoms.

And maybe, just maybe, people can begin to understand why some of us choose to stubbornly cling to those freedoms.

September 4th, 2009

Indiana police force catherization on DUI suspect after passing breathalyzer 0

By Carlos Miller

An Indiana man gets pulled over for suspicion of DUI. He passes a breathalyzer.

Police still believe he is drunk so they take him to a hospital, strap him to a gurney and force a catheter into his penis.

Then they stick a needle in him to remove blood.

When a blood and urine test determined Jamie Lockard was still under the legal limit, police charged him with obstruction of justice.

He is now suing.

September 4th, 2009

Cop shoots fire chief in court 0

By Carlos Miller

The sad part about this story is not the fact that cop shot an unarmed fire chief from behind during an altercation over speeding tickets inside an Arkansas courthouse.

Nor is it the fact that the prosecutors decided they are not going to file charges against the cop who pulled the trigger.

And it’s not even the fact that these same prosecutors are planning on filing misdemeanor charges against the wounded fire chief for his role in the scuffle.

We already expect that from our legal justice system.

The sad part is that there will no doubt be apologists will come on this discussion thread and attempt to rationalize the cop’s behavior.

They will say the fire chief had it coming to him because he showed contempt of cop to the seven cops in the courtroom by not respecting their authority by complaining about over the speeding tickets. They will say the seven Jericho cops feared for their lives even though they were going up against the fire chief who was obviously unarmed after entering the courthouse.

September 3rd, 2009

Louisiana sheriff retaliates against photog for posting provocative photos 0

By Carlos Miller


A Louisiana sheriff is retaliating against a man who posted pictures of a woman posing provocatively on top of a squad car as one of his deputies looked on.

But the man who posted the photos online appears to have been retaliating against the deputy for having testified against him in court for an unrelated matter.

In response to posting the pictures, Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Norman filed an arrest warrant against the photographer, Paul Poupart, on “retaliation and public intimidation charges.”

As of Thursday afternoon, the deputies have not tracked down Poupart – even though they were seen leaving his house at noon – but the media was able to track him down for an interview later that day.

“Because of them pictures. They looking for me because of them pictures,” he told a local TV station.

The pictures were taken two years ago outside a bar where the deputy was working off-duty security.

Poupart claims that the deputy in the picture, Steve Higgerson, was welcoming of the woman on top of his squad car.

The bar owner and sheriff claim that the woman snuck up on the car for the photos before she and Poupart were chased off by the deputy.

But let’s be honest. If he really didn’t want her on his car, he would have had his Taser or gun drawn. And the photographer would have been beaten or Tased or arrested.

The truth is, the deputy doesn’t appear too bothered by her provocative poses on his car. The woman was able to go from sitting on her ass with her legs open to getting on all fours with her ass in the air while the deputy doesn’t seem to move an inch.

Nevertheless, I really don’t see a huge crime in the fact that he stood by while the woman posed on his car. While some may see it as unprofessional, I see it as him being human and not sweating the small stuff. It wasn’t as if she was hanging all over him.

But since the photos were taken, Higgerson arrested Poupart for fighting in the bar. And he secured a battery conviction against Poupart by testifying against him in court.

So the day after his trial, Poupart released the photos to a voyeuristic  website called in the hopes that they would get the deputy in trouble.

Instead, the sheriff decided to go after Poupart for posting the photos.

“If individuals think that they are going to try and force a situation or stage a situation to put one of my officers in a compromising situation, we are going to put their butt in jail,” Normand said.

But Poupart did not break any law by posting the photos, so Norman is abusing his power. He should have just let the incident go with a verbal warning to his deputy to be more careful in the future.

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