I want to see one of these in my neighborhood.
"CHARLESTON - A Putnam County man has filed a suit against a convenience store after he was burned when he bit into a gravy-filled breakfast biscuit sold at the store."
"This is the second gravy-related lawsuit filed in the state in the last two months."
Guess what? More linky goodness! This time, nothing too weighty, as I got 99 problems:
I've long marveled at seeing "MADE IN INDIA" stamped into manhole covers in NYC and elsewhere. It seems like a near-irrefutable argument demonstrating the sheer pervasiveness of globalization, not to mention modern shipping economics -- that it's actually cheaper to make something as heavy as a manhole cover nearly eight thousand miles away from where it's intended to be used, and to ship it there across several oceans, than it is to fabricate it closer to home. Mind-boggling, every time I contemplate it.
But idle contemplation is all I'd done, while a stringer for the Times went and got the goods. And, the story's even more interesting -- and instructive -- than I'd previously thought. (The narrated slide show of their production is especially amazing; do check it out.)
Turns out these things are essentially forged by hand, without much mechanical assistance, by guys with no safety gear or even much in the way of clothing.
We take so much for granted, don't we?
A collection of links for your edification and enjoyment:
Ward Sutton ("Sutton Impact") limns campaign logos in a
photo cartoon essay in the Times.
Someone's missing the point here:
I especially liked this graf:
John Boardman, executive secretary treasurer of UNITE HERE local 25 in Washington, said the issue of who the picketers are is less important than why they're there. "Let's focus on the message -- that there are people in this building that are working for substandard wages and benefits," he said.
I've got a bunch of things to take care of, but didn't want to neglect you, so here's some quick linky goodness for your perusal:
There's a pretty good discussion going on in the comments on the post below about my encounter with the police on Sunday evening. (Please do feel free to add your $0.02 anytime.) One commenter provided some very interesting links, and I did a little further research, and I stumbled on some very fascinating stuff, especially as it relates to requirements to produce ID and the constitutional tests for the various levels of police intrusion. (This would, I'm sure, be an excellent time to remind you that IANAL.) I used a report produced by the Office of the Attorney General of New York on the NYPD's "stop and frisk" practices as a jumping-off point, as I found its legal analyses especially useful and easy to follow.
To that end, I'm promoting the below from the comments, as I felt it was worthy of its own post.
The OAG report on stops and frisks is very interesting, and I read Chapter 2 of that report with great interest: it delineates various tests to develop a Fourth Amendment standard governing police stops. It's clear that the police did not stop me under a Terry stop; as laid out in Terry v. Ohio, the officers must have a "reasonable suspicion" of criminality. (Here's the answer to the ID question: New York's stop-and-identify law, NY CLS CPL §140.50(1), apparently applies only to Terry stops, as it refers to officers detaining suspects -- which requires reasonable suspicion -- not merely questioning them.) Rather, it appears that the officers' questioning of me was a first- or possibly second-tier "De Bour encounter"; People v. De Bour, which is really fascinating reading, outlines a test for four separate, escalating levels of police intrusion. To quote the OAG report, "at the first, least intrusive level, an officer may request information from a civilian about his or her identity, reason for being at a particular location, or travel plans, where the request is 'supported by an objective, credible reason, not necessarily indicative of criminality.'" The second De Bour tier is called "the common-law right of inquiry". The OAG report again:
Under the "common law right," an officer may approach and closely question a civilian to the extent necessary to gain explanatory information beyond identity and travel plans. Still, however, the officer may not detain the civilian; the individual always remains free to leave. This second level of intrusion -- which falls short of a Fourth Amendment "seizure" (a "stop") sufficient to implicate Terry -- requires a founded suspicion that "criminal activity is afoot." The difference between the De Bour tiers is "itself subtle" and rests upon the content and number of questions, and the "degree to which the language and nature of the questions transform the encounter from a merely unsettling one" under De Bour's first level, "to an intimidating one" under its second.
(The third and fourth De Bour tiers, which roughly correspond, respectively, to a Terry stop and an arrest, obviously don't apply in my particular encounter the other night.)
I'm uncertain as to whether my encounter with the police was a first-tier or a second-tier encounter under De Bour; I was asked my identity and my reasons for photographing a train. I felt "intimidated" (second-tier) rather than "unsettled" (first-tier), though, chiefly because of the officer's invoking 9/11 and his assertion that "al-Qaeda sometimes hires guys that look like you." Under De Bour, it would seem that the standard required to escalate the encounter from the first to the second tier would be "a founded suspicion that criminal activity is afoot." I don't believe that that standard was reached, as my behavior was legal, not furtive in any way, and that I responded to the officers' questions. As the appellate court wrote in De Bour, "innocuous behavior alone will not generate a founded or reasonable suspicion that a crime is at hand."
Incidentally, to go into greater detail on the ID issue, a portion of the OAG report (Chapter 2, Part 1C, Sections 2 & 3) is again worth quoting at some length:
Yesterday I went out and shot lots of pictures in various Queens neighborhoods along the #7 train line. I took pictures of Little India in Jackson Heights, the Louis Armstrong House in Corona, Filipino neighborhoods in Woodside, and the 7 train itself at Queensboro Plaza.
It was the last one of those that got me into trouble, though; I got stopped by the cops (again) for taking pictures on the upper platform at Queensboro Plaza. As I was taking long exposures (I was hoping to get the just-after-twilight skyline with a 7 train in front of it), a guy walks up to me and shows his badge -- turns out he's a plainclothes police lieutenant. He asks me "Do you mind telling me why you're taking pictures of trains?" I said that I was taking pictures of the skyline and the platform, not just the trains, and ask if I'm breaking the law. The cop responds with a smile and starts talking about how "everything changed on 9/11", and how they have to be careful and check "everything" out. He admitted that I wasn't breaking the law, but says that he has a duty to check it out when people are taking pictures ("al-Qaeda might be out here, and they sometimes hire guys that look like you.") I tell him that I've been taking pictures all afternoon, all over Queens, and start showing him the pictures I've taken. Two other people walk up, and it turns out that they're plainclothes cops as well.
He asks me for ID, and I show him my driver's license, and one of the other cops writes down my information. The lead officer, the one who's been doing all the talking, says he "can see that I'm just a little railroad buff" and that I'm not doing anything wrong. I tell him that I'm really more of a New York City buff and photography buff than a transit buff (I found his phrasing patronizing, but wasn't going to tell him that), show him my sightseeing-guide license, and tell him that I understand why he stopped me and wanted to find out what I was doing, and that I didn't mind. I also tell him that we're all on the same side here -- I go all over New York City to shoot pictures, and that the NYPD should cultivate good relations with street photographers like me, since we're well-poised to alert the cops if we see something truly suspicious.
One of the other cops asks me if I put my photos online, saying that he's heard that sometimes train buffs contribute photos to a website with pictures of the subway. I reply that I'm not a part of a website like that, but that I do put my photos on the Web. He says "oh, like a Flickr account or something?" and I allow that yes, I do have a Flickr account. (I was surprised he didn't ask me for the URL.) The cops then went on their way.
I shot a couple more pictures, but my heart wasn't really in it, and I just wanted to go home. The encounter really rattled me; the officers weren't abusive or hostile, but getting questioned unexpectedly by three plainclothes cops is, in a word, intimidating. The lieutenant had that very direct, I'm-totally-in-control-of-this-situation attitude that cops tend to have, and I just knew that in any interaction with the police, one false move can mean ruining your whole day/weekend, even if you're completely in the right.
As it turns out, you don't have to show ID to the police upon request, since the officer had no probable cause to assume that a crime was in progress. (I hadn't been sure if I had the right to refuse his request or not.) I had told the lieutenant that I didn't mind his stopping me, but moments after they walked away, I changed my mind on that: it occurred to me that my information was now on file, and I don't know for how long they're going to keep it or what they're going to do with it (will I wind up in a database of "suspected terrorists"? Will it get forwarded to the Feds?) Given the NYPD's (and DHS's) responses to the terrorist threat in the past six years, I don't quite trust them to do the right thing with that information, and I feel uncomfortable that they have it.
Should I have not shown them my driver's license? That NYCLU link in the above graf says that I dont' have to, but it also notes that you should use your own judgment -- and that refusal to show ID can lead to one's arrest...even if that arrest is unjustified. (And, of course, even if they arrested you wrongly, you're still in jail for a day or two.) I didn't like the encounter at all, but I didn't feel like I could protest too much (as in: not show ID, refuse to show the officers the pictures I'd taken, or even assert my right not to be stopped absent probable cause or reasonable suspicion of lawbreaking), because there's a decent chance that if I did, I'd wind up in jail or otherwise massively inconvenienced. The police have overwhelming powers in our society, and they clearly held most of the cards in this encounter.
I realize why the cops wanted to talk to me. But I don't like it, and I certainly don't like being a suspect -- with the onus on me, not them, to prove otherwise. What if I didn't have ID on me? What if I had nothing but pictures of trains and planes on my camera? Why is the mere act of photography inherently suspicious in our society?
So on Friday after work, I was hurrying down the stairs to the subway platform, since I could see that an N train was already sitting in the station with the doors open. Just as I got to the train, the doors started to close. I stuck out my arm, and miracle of miracles: the doors re-opened to let me in. As I stepped aboard the train, I waved my other arm in thanks to the conductor five cars behind me.
Shortly after the doors closed and as I was walking to a seat, the conductor got on the PA for the entire train, and I heard the speakers above my head crackle to life:
Bill O'Reilly can breathe easy now; the FBI has abandoned their secret falafel surveillance program:
Like Hansel and Gretel hoping to follow their bread crumbs out of the forest, the FBI sifted through customer data collected by San Francisco-area grocery stores in 2005 and 2006, hoping that sales records of Middle Eastern food would lead to Iranian terrorists.
The idea was that a spike in, say, falafel sales, combined with other data, would lead to Iranian secret agents in the south San Francisco-San Jose area.
There are no words.
There are no words.
Some random pith & vinegar, about things I've been saving to write more fully about, but have all piled up and are in grave danger of becoming fishwrap if I don't move on them: