Morning Links

Saturday, January 9th, 2010
  • Former NYC police commissioner backs into pregnant woman, drives off, won’t be charged.
  • Multivitamins may do more harm than good.
  • Hand-drawn movie posters from Africa.
  • Washington, D.C. apparently has a law allowing police to arrest any woman carrying more than two condoms as a suspected prostitute. Great move in the city with the highest HIV/AIDS rate in the country. (Correction: This appears to be more an example of a case or two where possession of condoms led or contributed to a prostitution-related charge than any city-wide policy.)
  • Baby panda attempts an escape.
  • This seems like an overreaction.

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  • 36 Responses to “Morning Links”

    1. #1 |  Mojopin | 

      I’m voting Baby Panda in the next election for his obvious appreciation for freedom.

    2. #2 |  john | 

      we’ve got police who don’t give a damn about some commissioner who backs over some pregnant woman, and we’ve got an airline pilot who overreacts to some note by a passenger. i’d say things are going normally. keep up the good work!!!!

    3. #3 |  Price | 

      Did you check on whether or not the test on the “vitamins” was synthetic or if there was a pharmaceutical bent to it?? Most of the time that natural alternatives to death causing pharmaceuticals is disparaged it is done at the behest of the drug companies… look under products.. Individualized vitamins available based on an individuals person biological assessment. Hard to beat.

      Surprised you posted this article…I thought you were much more skeptical.

    4. #4 |  Bill | 

      Yeah, but are women in DC really being arrested for that? Or is it just some old law that no one pays attention to?

    5. #5 |  Dave Krueger | 

      This seems like an overreaction.

      Oh, yeah? Try joking about airport security while standing in the screening line at an airport sometime. Essentially, transportation security has become the focal point of almost all discussion about air travel these days, but encounters by industry personnel with anything resembling an actual security threat are practically nonexistent. All that pent up hypersensitivity has to be brought to bear somehow, so that’s basically what we’re seeing in cases like this.

      You see the same thing in schools where policies meant to control illegal drugs are applied to aspirin and where efforts to eliminate dangerous weapons are instead used against kids who bring squirt guns or pen knives. You see it as well when a cop interprets a verbal argument as disorderly conduct or resisting arrest.

      Having never been instructed on how to differentiate a real threat from a perceived threat and being given no incentive (or even discretion) to treat the two differently, these moronic reactions will continue to be the rule rather than the exception. Moreover, the officials ultimately to blame for these policies are not only completely oblivious to the public ridicule they generate, it never occurs to them that over-reacting to trivial distractions impacts their effectiveness against real threats.

      If a terrorist wants to take down a plane, all he need do is get one of his cronies to start an innocuous argument in a different part of he plane completely captivating the attention of the crew, air marshals, and passengers leaving him free to assemble any kind of weapon he can smuggle aboard.

    6. #6 |  oldfatherwilliam | 

      Smartassery on airplanes has been a NoNo for quite a while. Add to that the fact that the guy LOOKS like an unpredictable nutjob and what do you get?

    7. #7 |  Elroy | 

      Regarding the ex-commissioner, we don’t know for sure that he was aware he backed into someone. But if the pregnant woman’s account is true it seems like he should be charged with leaving the scene of an accident. I have a feeling if it were a civilian however, charges would have been filed.

    8. #8 |  Dave Krueger | 

      #4 Bill

      Yeah, but are women in DC really being arrested for that? Or is it just some old law that no one pays attention to?

      That’s my question as well, but even if it isn’t enforced, the law is absurd and an embarrassment to idiots who enacted it and to those who permit it to continue on the books.

    9. #9 |  Tsu Dho Nihm | 

      I hereby declare the War on Terror to be over. It’s clear that Terror has won. If people are so terrified of an amusing note referencing corny 1960’s sitcoms that we need to file criminal charges then it’s absolutely clear that the war is done and that there’s no hope whatsoever for our society.

    10. #10 |  Tsu Dho Nihm | 

      #8 Dave Krueger
      That’s my question as well, but even if it isn’t enforced, the law is absurd and an embarrassment to idiots who enacted it and to those who permit it to continue on the books.

      Most laws are absurd. The few that aren’t are mostly common sense, you know, like laws that say “It’s illegal to kill someone.”

    11. #11 |  qwints | 

      Following the condom links, I didn’t find any sourced claims that such a law exists; only the claim that police have been accused of using condoms as evidence of intent. I’ve got no real

    12. #12 |  qwints | 

      problem with the prostitution free zone as written.

      (sorry for the double post)

    13. #13 |  Highway | 

      I think the thing with the condoms in DC is less that they’re stopping all women and searching their purses, but rather that when someone is stopped under suspicion of prostitution, and found with more than 2 condoms, they pile that on as more circumstantial evidence.

    14. #14 |  random guy | 

      Whats depressing about the overreaction article is the number of people in the comments section that think the behavior of the airline personal and the FBI are totally justified.

      The note the man filled out was mostly stream of consciousness gibberish regarding his fear of flying mixed in with some Gilligan’s Island references. Nothing in the note would indicate to a rational person that he intended harm to the plane, crew, or passengers. How a comment card with anything less than a direct threat is worth turning a plane around, scrambling a fighter jet escort, and pressing felony charges is beyond any semblance of reason.

      Its been said before, the terrorists won. America has lost its damn mind. Paranoid schizophrenics, locked in a closet, don’t come up with the kind of terrifying visages we dream up on a daily basis. When something even slightly odd happens we act like the sky is falling, crap ourselves, and deal with the non-problem of comment cards. After some authority ‘solves’ the issue with felony charges for mundane, non-threatening, behavior we anxiously wait for the next non-problem to captivate our terrified little imaginations.

    15. #15 |  Cynical in CA | 

      What is it about Oregon and weird people? Does Oregon attract weird people or just grow them, or both?

      How fucking stoned do you have to be to write something like that on a plane and give it to an airline employee to read?

      I hope they sentence Johnson to 20 years for being a fucking schmuck. Maybe that’s what he wants, an all-expenses-paid 20-year vacation at the federal Graybar Resort.

    16. #16 |  Jeff | 

      That condom thing is blown way out of proportion, via the Internet equivalent of the game of Telephone.

      (Original site) Cops accused of using more than two condoms as evidence against arrested prostitutes->

      (linked by another site) Cops definitely using more than two condoms as evidence against prostitutes->

      (link to link) Cops stopping women and using possession of more than two condoms to judge whether they are prostitutes.->

      (Agitator) DC apparently has a law saying you can be arrested for prostitution for carrying more than two condoms.->

      (Future site linking to Agitator) Radley Balko exposes secret DC law allowing cops to arrest women for prostitution if they are found carrying more than two condoms.

      Don’t link to sites linking to sites! Link to the absolute originals.

    17. #17 |  Cynical in CA | 

      I should also point out that it matters not what my opinion is or yours is. Nor does the opinion of the “ambiguous ‘we'” matter. What matters is the opinion of the State agent, who is definitely not a member of any “we” I belong to.

      Refresher course: State agents are empowered by the State to defend the State at all costs. Any reader of this blog should understand by now that any appearance of threat or any perception of threat by a State agent will be pursued vigorously at the discretion of said State agent, anyone else’s opinion be damned.

      Of course, there is always a chance a superior State agent’s opinion will wind up mattering more, but this is beside the point. Common sense does not apply in the world of the State. Only individual judgments by State agents apply.

      Any private individual who does not understand this will incur the risk of State retribution personally. There is no excuse for a reader of this blog to not know this. There is no excuse for a rational adult to not know this.

    18. #18 |  EH | 

      I’m not in any legal profession, but in the police commissioner story is there significance to them saying “no criminality was involved?” Like, are they pinning it on intent or something that prevents them from saying “no crime was committed,” or is it just passive-voice BS?

    19. #19 |  TC | 

      “Mr. Safir, 67, was traveling with his wife when the accident occurred, the police said.

      “I was crossing the street in between cars and he hit reverse, and his female passenger screamed,…”

      Poor guy was in a trance, panicked, thinking that the wife… maybe…. :)


      The last time I purchased condoms it was a 30 pack!

    20. #20 |  PaedragGaidin | 

      I don’t know…I have mixed feelings about the plane incident. Sure, it was a complete overreaction, as all “zero tolerance” rules tend to produce (when I was in seventh grade a classmate was suspended for bringing a “realistic facsimile of a weapon” to school in violation of the zero tolerance rule. The weapon? A two-inch plastic GI Joe gun from an action figure). All recent airport security measures are gross overreactions that probably do little real good and only serve to punish law-abiding citizens and infringe on their rights to travel without undue interference.

      But on the other hand, Johnson seems to lack any level of common sense. You don’t go into a bank and pass the teller a “humorous” note saying “gee, I hope this bank doesn’t get robbed!” Neither the teller or the police would think that was funny, and why should they? Sure, the airline industry, TSA, and other agencies are super-paranoid, and it sucks for all of us…but that doesn’t excuse deliberately antagonizing them with “jokes” about crashing planes. If Johnson is really clueless enough to be shocked that the flight crew took his joke the wrong way, that’s his problem. It’s a stupid situation all around, but he’s as much to blame as the crew.

    21. #21 |  Dave Krueger | 

      #20 PaedragGaidin

      You don’t go into a bank and pass the teller a “humorous” note saying “gee, I hope this bank doesn’t get robbed!” Neither the teller or the police would think that was funny, and why should they?

      True, but a stupid attempt at humor is still not the same as robbing a bank and should not be punished as if it was an attempt to do that. It’s one thing to react to an uncertain situation with an “abundance of caution” (the term they always use when they empty an entire airport because someone used the wrong door), it’s another to continue to treat the event as if it had been a real threat after all the facts are in and it turns out to be clearly nothing of the sort.

    22. #22 |  joe b | 

      Johnson must be punished as a lesson to us all.

    23. #23 |  EH | 

      joe b: It’s tough but fair.

    24. #24 |  M | 

      The tylenol killer murders are still open:,0,7229789.story

      Sounds like authorities can just keep subpoenaing a person’s computers every few years if they still suspect them of a crime just in case they wrote about the alleged crime yet.

    25. #25 |  MacGregory | 

      Frankly, I’m appalled by the the ex-police commissioner/pregnant woman story. Why wasn’t this woman cited for jaywalking? Let her get away with it and pretty soon you’ve got nothing but a city full of scofflaws.

    26. #26 |  Dave Krueger | 

      Let’s face it, folks. If the ex police official had actually been charged with a crime, we’d all be sitting here stunned. We’d be thinking, “Maybe we were wrong. Maybe there are good cops out there. Maybe the police don’t always cover for the crimes of their brethren. Maybe cops aren’t always above the law. Maybe there are prosecutors out there who are afraid to hold cops accountable. We’d be heaping praise on the cop who brought him to justice and calling him a hero for his courage.

      But, alas, it turns out this is just another in an ever increasing flood of police misconduct enthusiastically covered up by boys in blue who, despite the slowly eroding popular opinion that most cops are honest professionals who apply the law uniformly without prejudice or favoritism, are really all of one mind in their belief that cops are the elite and ordinary citizens are merely inconsequential little people.

    27. #27 |  Dave Krueger | 

      Off topic alert. Too funny to pass up.

      TSA Agent Arrested at LAX

      A TSA agent was arrested on January 3rd in Terminal One at LAX, a source told NBCLA. He had just gotten off duty and was behaving erratically, saying, “I am god, I’m in charge.”

      So, I guess I have to eat my words. Law enforcement officers do face discipline (at least if they claim to be even more superior than other cops).

    28. #28 |  David Chesler | 

      So is it a terroristic threat when the flight attendant says “In the event of a water landing…”? The guy didn’t say anything about causing the plane to crash; a lot of people are concerned about what if the plane crashes.
      The note wasn’t for the flight attendant, it was for corporate. I’d have expected the comment cards are sent back to corporate.
      As for the carry-on, that’s got to be very common that people find that something that all the information given would suggest could be brought on board can’t be stowed in the place provided for it, and question the flight attendant, and worthy of a negative comment on the comment card.

      And now I’ll go stream-of-consciousness. When Detective Baylor ordered the crowd to throw a snowball, was that a lawful order? If we have to take these things seriously, and not know he was joking…

    29. #29 |  El Scorcho | 

      If you read the police commisioner article, you may wonder if he even knew he hit her. The lady didn’t say she told him that he hit her. She came and yelled at him that he didn’t see her. I’ve been there in the city with people walking all around you when your trying to pull out or into a parking place. My experience is that the pedestrians are almost daring the cars to hit them and not using common sense. I am usually in Balko’s corner on most posts, but in this case I would withhold judgement. I think the blame is 50-50 and I give the guy the benefit of doubt despite the fact he was in law enforcement.

    30. #30 |  Yanqui Bob | 

      I wonder if the comment card was postage paid, business reply type mail addressed to the airline’s customer service department. If so, the flight attendant should be charged for reading someone else’s mail.

      I’ll bet the only reason she (he?) opened it was so she could toss it in the trash if he had anything negative to say about her service.

    31. #31 |  Mattocracy | 

      Just because a passenger acts like an idiot, doesn’t mean that the airline has to respond in a similar manner. Being a bunch of pussies isn’t the same as being safety conscious.

    32. #32 |  hamburglar007 | 

      Oddly enough, the handling of the guy who caused the problems in Newark a few days ago, aside from shutting down the terminal for 6 hours, has been very reasonable. Guy is questioned, arrested for trespassing and released, fined $500, and that’s about it. The asshole NJ senator Lautenberg is calling for blood but hopefully this will be the end of the story.

    33. #33 |  Dave Krueger | 

      According to this article, the condom law in Washington DC (and apparently San Francisco), discourages hookers from carrying more than two condoms which could result in increasing the likelihood of unsafe sex practices where they are needed most.

    34. #34 |  Jon von Briesen | 

      Too much to say in a comment — at Prof. Henry Bauer’s excellent site,, you can see where the DC statistics came from AND that condoms (and even circumcision) are no defense against HIV positivity. This is largely because it so unlikely that HIV is transmissible.

    35. #35 |  Andrew Williams | 

      Police officer/official commits crime, gets away with it. /yawn
      Wake me when the asshat gets charged with something.

    36. #36 |  Dave Krueger | 

      Speaking of over reactions…

      In-flight orange-juice clash highlights security fears