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THEY KNOW WHEN YOU’VE BEEN NAUGHTY: Capella Space’s new satellite can see into your house at any time.

(UPDATED, see below)

An unconventional new satellite from Capella Space can do the unthinkable: peer right into your bedroom and snap high-resolution pictures at any time. If that sounds pretty creepy to you… yeah, we’re right there with you.

The Capella-2 satellite is unlike any hunk of metal currently orbiting the Earth, thanks to the ludicrously high resolution of its onboard cameras. And Capella has launched it with an unconventional service to match: the government or private customers can request a picture of anything on the planet at any time.

Right now there’s just one Capella-2 satellite roaming around in the atmosphere, so that functionality is somewhat limited. Capella plans to launch six additional satellites with similar capabilities in the next year.

The Capella-2 is certainly an enormous leap forward in space-based photography; it will surely usher in more of a race for this type of technology. The satellite is also a massive privacy risk — and one that lies outside any policy framework we have around surveillance.

If I were President, I’d be tempted to order Space Force to shoot it down.

UPDATE (Charlie): The story now has a correction:

Correction: A previous version of this article stated in error that the satellite can see into buildings. It cannot. The post has been updated to reflect this.

The signal they’re using is 9.6GHz, and most all houses are opaque at that frequency. So it can’t really see into your house, and your sex life is safe from satellites. That doesn’t mean it’s not a privacy concern, though — it can see your property, your car, people going into and out of your house.

JIM TREACHER: Trump Tweets Meme About Hero Dog, Journos Lose Minds.

Now, I’m no expert on photographs or photography, but I took one glance at that and concluded it’s obviously not a real photo, and obviously not meant to be mistaken for one. See the “@realDailyWire” watermark in the lower-right corner? That’s Ben Shapiro’s site. Somebody at the Daily Wire took an old picture of Trump awarding somebody a medal, and then crudely Photoshopped in the picture of the dog that helped track down al-Baghdadi. Everybody loves the hero dog, so here’s a meme about the dog. Hooray for that awesome dog! It’s not meant to deceive. It’s meant to be enjoyed.

Trump thought it was funny, so he tweeted it. And I agree with him. It’s funny. It’s silly. It’s a goof. It’s harmless.

Or so I thought.

As Treacher asks, “What happens when they decide the real scandal isn’t a POTUS eating dogs, but being Photoshopped into a picture with a dog?” You get this:

Of course, the “objective” media’s response to Photoshops and political memes (laughing and promoting them versus amped-up-to-11 childish freakouts) ultimately comes down which party issues them: ‘A tale of two memes’: Peter J. Hasson notices that the NYT has quite a double standard when it comes to tweeting doctored images [screenshots].

WHY WAS DISCO EVER POPULAR? BLAME FAKE NEWS: As Mike Konrad writes at the American Thinker, the media cooked the books long before it amplified Hillary’s “fake news” meme to explain away her defeat:

Three months before disco’s demise, a Newsweek April 2, 1979 cover confidently proclaimed that disco had won the culture wars.*  Rock ‘n’ roll was dead.  But a few months later, by the fall of 1979, disco was gone.  What happened?

What happened was that the disco culture was a house of cards.  The signature statement of that culture, Saturday Night Fever, was a total fraud.

The movie, and the disco fad, were based on an article, “Inside the Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night,” that appeared in New York Magazine in June 1976.

Over the past few months, much of my time has been spent in watching this new generation.  Moving from neighborhood to neighborhood, from disco to disco, an explorer out of my depth, I have tried to learn the patterns, the old/new tribal rites.

The problem was that the story was mostly made up.

Twenty years later came a bombshell.  In December 1997 New York magazine published an article in which Cohn confessed that there never was a Vincent.  There was no “Lisa”, “Billy”, “John James”, “Lorraine” or “Donna” either.  While 2001 Odyssey existed, it wasn’t the way the writer described it in 1976.  The whole scene of disco-loving Italians, as mythologised in Saturday Night Fever, was exaggerated.  The most bizarre detail was that his disco protagonists were in fact based on mods Cohn had known in London.

More here:

One image stayed with the writer, though, that of a figure in flared crimson pants and a black body shirt standing in the doorway of the club and calmly watching the action. There was a style about him, Cohn said, a sense of his own specialness that reminded the writer of a teen gang in his hometown of Derry and a mod named Chris he’d met in London in 1965.

When Cohn went back to Odyssey he didn’t see the young man in the doorway again. “Plus, I made a lousy interviewer,” he wrote. “I knew nothing about this world, and it showed. Quite literally, I didn’t speak the language. So I faked it. I conjured up the story of the figure in the doorway, and named him Vincent. Taking all I knew about the snake-charmer in Derry and, more especially, about Chris the mod in London, I translated them as best I could to Brooklyn. Then I went back to Bay Ridge in daylight and noted the major landmarks. I walked some streets, went into a couple of stores. Studied the clothes, the gestures, the walks. Imagined how it would feel to burn up, all caged energies, with no outlet but the dancefloor and the rituals of Saturday night. Finally, I wrote it all up. And presented it as fact.”

Michael Crichton, call your office.

* It’s Business Week’s 1979 “Death of Equities” cover in reverse — not to mention Newsweek’s own 2009 cover, “We Are All Socialists Now.”

Joel Engel wrote to me with some additional details and corrections to the American Thinker piece:

That the NY Mag story had been made up was more than certainly known to the studio and producers, who’d have been warned by legal that they had to buy the life rights of the principals involved. Second, Saturday Night Fever didn’t start the disco craze; it capitalized on it. Disco, in my recollection, started with the Love Unlimited Orchestra in 1973, when I was living in Paris and discos began opening everywhere. By the time I got back to the States, Neil Bogart was already a multimillionaire from his label Casablanca that had dozens of disco acts, from Donna Summer to the Village People. (Casablanca was where I met my wife in 1979. She was head of the editorial dept, and I was a freelancer churning out bios and sales sheets at exorbitant rates, while at night I was a DJ at the Malibu Inn, which had transformed itself into a thriving disco–music I hated.) Thank God It’s Friday, by Casablanca’s film division (which also produced Peter Guber’s The Deep and put Jacqueline Bissett in a wet t-shirt), had been a huge hit in theaters. But what killed disco with a stake through the heart in 1980, I’m happy to say, was another Casablanca movie: Can’t Stop the Music, a work of such unremitting awfulness (directed by Rhoda Morganstern’s onscreen mother, who’d had no directing experience) that it’s worse than anything Ed Wood imagined. (Forgive me for invoking Gell-Mann here.)

Heh, indeed.™


The Whitney, as it’s called, is not all bad. It has some nice Hopper, Lichtenstein, and lesser-known artists such as Henry Koerner. The long-exposure photography was excellent too. Unfortunately my pleasant memories of all these works were sullied by the exhibit on the sixth floor — An Incomplete History of Protest.

Rounding the corner to enter the exhibit, I encountered the most fascinating combination of leftism and bad taste ever assembled. There was a mosaic of anti-Vietnam signs, which displayed the hippies’ talents for zeugma (“Save Lives, Not Face”) and swearing (“F*** the Draft”). Then followed a few horrifying AIDS-related posters including genitalia and more wordplay (a picture of Reagan with the caption “He Kills Me”).

Next there was a wall full of agitprop from some organization called the Guerrilla Girls. The material in question looked like advertisements one might have taken out in Ms. magazine back when that was required reading for the fashionably radical. “Republicans do care about women’s rights to control their own bodies!” (Smaller print: “breast augmentation,” “nose jobs,” etc.) “We demand a return to traditional values on abortion!” (Smaller print: “The Catholic Church didn’t ban early abortion until 1869.”)

I truncate the epic catalogue, since by now the reader has surely gotten the point. The exhibit was an entire floor of lies, obscenity, melodrama, and a single rhetorical trick used 8,000 times. Which, to borrow a conceit from Meryl Streep, are not the arts.

This was the museum’s key weakness: It had shunned art and preferred razzmatazz. No doubt I shall be called a philistine hater of modern styles and a pseudo-cultured reactionary, but that is not really at issue here. The question is whether propaganda is art, and the answer is No.

It’s not – but what’s fascinating is how old this all is. As the late Tom Wolfe once wrote about being on a panel discussing “the style of the sixties” at Princeton university, the left’s hatred of fellow Texas-sized government-loving “Progressive” Lyndon Johnson (for largely class-related reasons) quickly and predictably overwhelmed any discussion of aesthetics:

This was the mid-1960’s. The post-World War II boom had by now pumped money into every level of the population on a scale unparalleled in any nation in history. Not only that, the folks were running wilder and freer than any people in history. For that matter, [Paul] Krassner himself, in one of the strokes of exuberance for which he was well known, was soon to publish a slight hoax: an account of how Lyndon Johnson was so overjoyed about becoming President that he had buggered a wound in the neck of John F. Kennedy on Air Force One as Kennedy’s body was being flown back from Dallas. Krassner presented this as a suppressed chapter from William Manchester’s book Death of a President. Johnson, of course, was still President when it came out. Yet the merciless gestapo dragnet missed Krassner, who cleverly hid out onstage at Princeton on Saturday nights.

Suddenly I heard myself blurting out over my microphone: “My God, what are you talking about? We’re in the middle of a … Happiness Explosion!”

That merely sounded idiotic. The kid up in the balcony did the crying baby. The kid down below did the raccoon … Krakatoa, East of Java … I disappeared in a tidal wave of rude sounds … Back to the goon squads, search-and-seize and roust-a-daddy …

Support came from a quarter I hadn’t counted on.

It was Grass, speaking in English. “For the past hour I have my eyes fixed on the doors here,” he said. “You talk about fascism and police repression. In Germany when I was a student, they come through those doors long ago. Here they must be very slow.”

Grass was enjoying himself for the first time all evening. He was not simply saying, “You really don’t have so much to worry about.” He was indulging his sense of the absurd. He was saying: “You American intellectuals—you want so desperately to feel besieged and persecuted!”

And it has always been thus. As Glenn has written, “One of Trump’s major accomplishments has been to reveal the lack of civic virtue and self-control across our elite institutions.” But perhaps not yet enough to ask, “Are we the baddies?”

HEATHER MAC DONALD: Tenuous accusations of sexual harassment against a portrait artist suggest that #MeToo has become a war on men.

Chuck Close is a darling of the contemporary art world; his massive, photography-based portraits have exhibited at virtually all major contemporary art venues. In 2005, he met a painter, Delia Brown, at a chic Hamptons dinner party. He said that he liked her work and asked her to pose for a photo in his studio. Brown immediately conveyed the invitation to one of her patrons, who was also a guest at the Hamptons party, as a sign of her election to the modern art-market firmament. When she phoned Close the next day to arrange the visit, he said that he wanted her to pose topless. This was hardly a novel proposal: Close’s photographs of male and female nudes are a known part of his output. Brown was insulted, however. She told Close over the phone that she needed to think about it. She then decided against the invitation. “I came to the conclusion that I was not being photographed as an artist but as a woman,” she told the New York Times. “You shouldn’t expect just because you go into an artist’s studio that you will be compromised. You should be allowed to have that experience, just like male artists who have that experience.”

Brown was not insulted enough, however, to forego trying to arrange a visit to his studio anyway. When she called a few weeks later to schedule such a visit, Close acted like he did not know her, she said.

Close had sexually harassed Brown, according to the New York Times and the Huffington Post.

Read the whole thing.

My first (and last) corporate sexual harassment seminar was 25 years ago, and even back then a man’s “guilt” was based on the non-objective standard of whether the “victim” felt as though she’d been harassed. The War on Men predates #MeToo by a long time.


Star Wars went on to become the highest-grossing film of 1977 and received 10 Oscar nominations (and a Special Achievement award). Mollo won for best costume design.

“As you see, the costumes from Star Wars are really not so much costumes as a bit of plumbing and general automobile engineering,” he said upon receiving his Oscar, flanked by his creations of Darth Vader, Princess Leia and Stormtroopers.

Mollo won a second Academy Award in 1983 for his work on Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi (he shared the award with Bhanu Athaiya, the first Indian to win).

His military knowledge first came in handy as an adviser on Nicholas and Alexandra (1971) and Barry Lyndon (1975) — both collected Oscars for costume design.

After the success of Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope, Mollo’s next film was another science fiction blockbuster: Alien (1979).

Mollo’s brother Andrew produced and co-directed one of the most audacious self-financed debut films ever made, 1964’s It Happened Here, which decades before Robert Harris’ Fatherland or the Amazon production of The Man in the High Castle imagined if Germany had won the war and conquered England. Its production began in 1956, and eventually Stanley Kubrick (who would later hire John Mollo for Barry Lyndon) donated leftover film stock from Dr. Strangelove to help bring it to fruition. Peter Suschitzky, the film’s cinematographer, would later go on to be the director of photography on a little movie called The Empire Strikes Back.



In the economically illiterate hope that raising prices would increase incomes and restore prosperity, the New Deal cartelized agriculture. Landowners raked in subsidies for taking land out of production and destroying crops and livestock, which threw huge numbers of agricultural laborers, tenant farmers, and sharecroppers out of work and made food and clothing more expensive. FDR himself, having created the opportunity, built his coalition by decrying “one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clothed, and ill-nourished.”

* * * * * * * * *

Of course, not all groups saw increased opportunity during World War II. The book’s shocker is buried on page 299, thanks to the perverse geographical organization: Hello to Manzanar—or at least, to Tule Lake. Every collectivist agricultural revolution needs its kulaks, and the administration at last found a population that was compelled to obey commands and (at least in the case of its businesses) be liquidated. Japanese Americans, subject to intense racial discrimination before the war, had created an entrepreneurial niche in truck gardening: fruits and vegetables for urban markets that we would today call “locally sourced.” After being forced to sell their businesses for pennies on the dollar, they were shipped off to internment camps.

You can’t make omelets without breaking eggs, and you can’t collectivize agriculture without creating food shortages: The Roosevelt administration disrupted the West Coast’s efficient fruit and vegetable agricultural sector just as the region’s population exploded with war workers. New Deal Photography offers a single color Russell Lee picture (1942), which the OWI presumably hoped would depict the internees as happy collective farmers among the furrows. They don’t look too happy—nor should readers be, because this appalling culmination of the FSA project has been addressed in depth in several previous books, as opposed to the cursory treatment here.

“Image of a Decade,” Jay Weiser, the Weekly Standard, May 29 issue.


A California farmer is facing a $2.8 million fine for failing to get a permit to plow his own field.

John Duarte bought 450 acres of land near Modesto in 2012 and is now being sued by the federal government for plowing near areas the government considers to be “waters of the United States.”

The case will head to trial in August. The government claims that Duarte violated the Clean Water Act because he did not obtain a permit to work near the wetlands.

“Farmer facing massive fines for… plowing his own field,” Jazz Shaw, Hot Air, today.

(Classical reference in headline.)

THE ANTISOCIAL NETWORK: Mark Zuckerberg was accused of ‘abusing’ his power after Facebook censored this iconic Vietnam war photo.

At issue is an iconic, Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph taken in 1972 by photographer Nick Ut, depicting children fleeing in terror from a South Vietnamese napalm strike in the midst of the brutal Vietnam war. Its central subject, the 9-year-old Kim Phuc, is naked.

It is, as Hansen points out, “by far the most iconic documentary photography from the Vietnam war’ — and one of the most famous photos of all time.

But when a Norwegian author, Tom Egeland, wrote a Facebook post about “seven photographs that changed the history of warfare” which included the photo, the photo was deleted, and he was subsequently suspended from the social network.

Then, when Aftenposten shared a news story to Facebook that used the photo, an email from Facebook demanded that the newspaper removed the post — before the social network went ahead and deleted it itself, before the newspaper could respond.

A Facebook spokesman said, “while we recognize that this photo is iconic, it’s difficult to create a distinction between allowing a photograph of a nude child in one instance and not others.”

Algorithms make for poor curators, worse editors, and dangerous censors.


One of the few cinematographers to have received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (in 1996), Wexler won his first Oscar for his black-and-white photography on “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” director Mike Nichols’ 1966 debut starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.

His acceptance speech was among the briefest in Hollywood history: “I hope we can use our art for peace and for love. Thanks.”

He won his second Oscar for “Bound for “Glory,” director Hal Ashby’s 1976 movie starring David Carradine as legendary singer-songwriter Woody Guthrie.

Wexler also received Oscar nominations for best cinematography for the 1975 film “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (shared with Bill Butler), “Matewan” (1987) and “Blaze” (1989).

Among Wexler’s other feature film credits as a cinematographer are “The Thomas Crown Affair,” “In the Heat of the Night,” “Coming Home,” “Colors” and “The Babe.”

He also was visual consultant on George Lucas’ 1973 classic “American Graffiti.” And he received an “additional photography” credit on Terrence Malick’s 1978 film “Days of Heaven,” for which cinematographer Nestor Almendros won an Oscar.

Wexler made his feature directorial debut with “Medium Cool,” a low-budget 1969 film that he wrote and for which he served as a producer and as the director of photography.

Described by Wexler as “a wedding between features and cinema verite,” the drama about an emotionally detached TV news cameraman was partly shot in Chicago during the tumultuous 1968 Democratic National Convention.

At one point, as the camera inches closer to a tear-gas cloud and a wall of police officers, a voice off-camera famously can be heard warning, “Look out, Haskell — it’s real!”

It wasn’t — the voice was dubbed in after the shoot to add to the “truthiness,” as a later entertainment industry leftist who blended reality and socialist fantasy would say. But taken on its own level, Medium Cool (heavily influenced by an earlier sixties movie about a cameraman, Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-Up) is a fascinating movie. Antonioni’s  Blow-Up, despite its setting at the height of swinging mod-era London is a hypnotic, uniquely timeless film. Wexler’s Medium Cool is very much of its era; watching it is a time capsule to the ugliness of 1968 and the assault on ossified New Deal Democrats by the radical new left of the 1960s, as I wrote at Ed back in 2012:

As a result of the Chicago riots that Wexler filmed, the 1972 Democratic convention was a much different affair than Chicago in 1968, as Steve Hayward noted in the first volume of his two-part Age of Reagan series:

The Democrats had chosen Miami as their convention site in 1972 for the same reason the Republicans had chosen it again: The main convention sites were across a causeway from the mainland, which made it easier for police to prevent any large Chicago-style protest or riot from forming. It was unnecessary. In Ben Wattenberg’s memorable phrase, “There won’t be any riots in Miami because the people who rioted in Chicago are on the Platform Committee.” The Leftist writer I.F. Stone agreed: “It was joy to be at the Democratic convention this year. … I felt I had lived to see a miracle. Those who had been in the streets of Chicago were now, only four years and one convention later, in the delegates’ seats in Miami.” Just to make sure, though, Jerry Rubin, one of the leaders of the Chicago riots who was inside the convention hall in 1972, told a reporter: “If George McGovern doesn’t win the nomination, we are going to have Chicago right there on the convention floor.” Wrecking the Democratic Party may have been what many “new politics” activists had in mind all along. Rolling Stone’s Hunter S. Thompson wrote that “the only way to save the Democratic Party is to destroy it.”

Call it fundamental transformation, to coin a phrase.

GLASS HALF FULL PART 1 – Wow, Ben, thanks SO much for your cheerful posts.  Law schools have failed their students, the good times are over for much of Big Law, small firm and solo lawyers have been losing ground for 25 years, and with computerization gearing up things will get worse for lawyers before they get better.  Glass half what?

Well first of all, the easiest glass half full case is to look at each of the trends above from the perspective of the American consumer, who are obvious beneficiaries.  Whatever else is coming in the future, it seems likely that legal services will be more widely available to more people and businesses at lower prices.  This trend starts at the top with corporate law firms and bubbles up from the bottom with LegalZoom and other forms providers.  Lawyers and legal fees are what economists call “transaction costs.”  When transaction costs fall, more transactions occur and goods and services are more likely to end up with their highest value users.

The benefits will be especially marked for the poor and middle class.  Most middle and low income Americans cannot afford to hire a lawyer.  This means that many Americans cannot afford to have a will or get divorced or change child custody arrangements or defend themselves in eviction/foreclosure proceedings.  Bar associations and advocates for the poor have argued for years that increased legal aid funding, required pro bono service or a civil Gideon right are the answers to these problems, i.e. more bespoke legal services by more government supported or volunteer lawyers.  These solutions are deeply backward looking, analogue, 1960s-era solutions to a very serious issue.

Fortunately, except for the in-court portion of the problem (which could be fixable with some pretty basic court reforms), computerization is on the verge of bypassing the legal profession altogether.  First generation online services may not be as good as a live lawyer (although everyone knows a lawyer whose work is already worse than what LegalZoom provides), but over time they will continue to improve.  LegalZoom and Rocketlawyer are already superior to nothing, which is all most poor and middle income Americans can afford.

Even in-court work will grow cheaper as lawyers take advantage of forms and virtual offices.  They will need to use these tools to survive, because more lawyers competing for less work will continue to drive prices down.  Between technology, outsourcing, the flood of new law graduates, and the displaced lawyers now willing/forced to work for lower salaries, customers will suddenly (and for the first time in recent history) be paying much less for legal services.  If you have enjoyed the digital revolution in music and photography, you will likewise enjoy the legal market in ten to twenty years.  Legal services will be cheaper, more accessible, AND better.  That’s bad for lawyers in the same way digital photography was bad for Kodak.  It is outstanding news for the country as a whole.

WAR ON PHOTOGRAPHY: Forest Service says media needs photography permit in wilderness areas, alarming First Amendment advocates.

The U.S. Forest Service has tightened restrictions on media coverage in vast swaths of the country’s wild lands, requiring reporters to pay for a permit and get permission before shooting a photo or video in federally designated wilderness areas.

Under rules being finalized in November, a reporter who met a biologist, wildlife advocate or whistleblower alleging neglect in any of the nation’s 100 million acres of wilderness would first need special approval to shoot photos or videos even on an iPhone.

Permits cost up to $1,500, says Forest Service spokesman Larry Chambers, and reporters who don’t get a permit could face fines up to $1,000.

First Amendment advocates say the rules ignore press freedoms and are so vague they’d allow the Forest Service to grant permits only to favored reporters shooting videos for positive stories.

Screw ’em. This is a crock. The officials behind this should be tarred, feathered, and booted from the civil service.

WAR ON PHOTOGRAPHY: Man arrested, strip-searched after photographing NYPD wins $125,000. “The settlement, first reported Monday by the Daily News, comes weeks after the NYPD reminded its officers that it was legal to peacefully record police activity. That department-wide memo followed the videotaped NYPD arrest of a man who died after being subdued by a chokehold last month.”

A VICTORY IN THE WAR ON PHOTOGRAPHY: NYPD Sends Out Official Memo Telling Officers They’re Allowed to Be Photographed.

WAR ON PHOTOGRAPHY: It’s Perfectly Legal To Photograph Buildings In Washington, DC But When Benny Johnson Did It He Was Harassed By Law Enforcement.

I think we should have a “photograph public buildings day” where everyone does just that. Starting with the 6 in DC where Johnson was hassled.

A SMALL VICTORY IN THE WAR ON PHOTOGRAPHY: Landmark Settlement Reached In Preakness Arrest Case.

A Baltimore City lawsuit settlement sparks major police policy and training reforms that affect everyone with a cell phone camera.

Derek Valcourt has details on the change and what it means to you.

The police department is putting it into writing so their officers fully understand. You can record them and they can’t do anything about it. First Amendment advocates call it a major victory.

When police made an arrest at Pimlico four years ago, Christopher Sharp was one of several recording. Officers didn’t like it.

“Do me a favor and turn that off. It’s illegal to record anybody’s voice or anything else,” an officer told Sharp.

But that’s not true.

Sharp says the officers took his phone and deleted videos, including family videos.

“I still am disturbed about what happened,” Sharp said.

Now, four years and an ACLU-backed lawsuit later, city police agreed to a sweeping settlement: money to Sharp and his attorneys, a formal written apology from the police commissioner and, most importantly, a new department policy spelling out expectations of city officers being recorded.

“I think it’s pretty clear people have the right to film what we do. You guys are doing it right now so it should be a norm for this organization,” Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said.

As part of the new policy, all officers going through training will be taught that they can never tell you to stop recording as long as you’re somewhere where you have a right to be and no officer can confiscate your phone just because you have video that they don’t want you to see.

It’s a start.

THE WAR ON PHOTOGRAPHY ISN’T GOING AS PLANNED: Atlantic City Cop Ordered to Pay $250,000 From Own Pocket to Citizen He Abused.


A police officer who arrested a New York Times freelance photographer last August was indicted on charges he falsified records about the incident, the Bronx District Attorney’s Office said Monday.

Officer Michael Ackermann, 30, who works out of the 44th Precinct, wrote in his report that shooter Robert Stolarik obstructed government administration when he repeatedly fired his flash in the officer’s face while he was making an unrelated arrest, according to the DA’s office.

Witnesses told investigators there was no flash attached to Stolarik’s camera, prosecutors said, adding that investigators also analyzed the photos taken during the arrest and determined no flash was used.

Stolarik, who has worked for The Times for more than a decade, was photographing the arrest of a teenage girl at McClellan Street and Sheridan Avenue about 10:30 p.m. on Aug. 4, The Times reported on Aug. 5, 2012.

An officer reportedly ordered Stolarik to stop taking photographs of the arrest. He then identified himself as a Times photographer and continued shooting, according to the story.

A second officer then appeared, grabbed his camera and “slammed” it into his face, The Times reported.

Stolarik was then reportedly dragged to the ground and arrested.

Of course, he’d have the same rights if he were just an ordinary citizen, and not a Times employee.

#WARONPHOTOGRAPHY: No Charges for Detroit Cop who Snatched Phone from Reporter, Stole SIM Card, so it Could “Not be Used as a Weapon.” Tar. Feathers.

WAR ON PHOTOGRAPHY: LAPD Detains A Photographer For ‘Interfering’ With A Police Investigation… From 90 Feet Away.

Send ’em a copy of this from Morgan Manning.

WAR ON PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: Illinois county to pay ACLU $600K after high court voids eavesdropping law. “In 2012, Illinois saw a rash of cases involving the Illinois Eavesdropping Act, which forbade making audio or visual recordings of people without explicit consent from everyone in the recording. In practice, the law made recording on-duty police officers a felony in the state. The prosecutions of citizens that ensued prompted the ACLU to challenge the state’s Eavesdropping Act, and it was eventually ruled unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds in the US Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. In November 2012, the US Supreme Court denied a request from a Chicago-based prosecutor to review the Seventh Circuit’s decision, letting it stand.”

You have not only a First Amendment right, but a Due Process right to record the police.

WAR ON PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: Mario Cerame, The Right To Record Police in Connecticut.

WAR ON PHOTOGRAPHY: Arrest for “HIPAA Violation” Based on Citizen’s Recording of Encounter Between Police and Another Citizen. It’s a violation of due process.

WAR ON PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: California Man Jailed Four Days for Recording Cops. But wait, it gets worse:

A California man was jailed for four days for attempting to record police officers on a public street.

Daniel J. Saulmon was charged with resisting, delaying and obstructing an officer but the video shows he was standing well out the way of a traffic stop and was only arrested when he failed to produce identification to an approaching officer.

And there is no law in California that requires citizens to produce identification. And even if there was, it would require the officer to have a reasonable suspicion that he was committing a crime.

But prosecutors have already dropped the charge against Saulmon as well as a few other minor citations relating to his bicycle such as not have proper reflectors on the pedals.

And they most likely knew who he was considering he won a $25,000 settlement from the same police department after they unlawfully arrested him on eavesdropping/wiretapping charges in 2005.

This time, it appears the Hawthorne Police Department will be dishing out much more, thanks to officer Gabriel Lira’s abuse of authority.

Of course, this means that taxpayers will be coughing up to cover Lira’s abuses, and the mis- or malfeasance of his superiors. He should be criminally charged for this arrest, and his supervisors should be sacked.

Meanwhile, check out Morgan Manning’s article on photographers’ rights, as well as A Due Process Right To Record The Police, which I coauthored with John Steakley.

I should note, BTW, that the latter article has been selected by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers for its “Getting Scholarship Into Court Project,” which is designed to inform lawyers and judges of particularly timely and useful topics. Happy to have been included! Though if my work turns out to be useful to actual lawyers and courts, I may wind up being drummed out of the Constitutional Law Scholars’ Guild. . . .

WAR ON PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: D.C. Police Officially Declare Photography Is Not a Crime.

Last week, two years after Washington, D.C., cops told Jerome Vorus to stop taking pictures of a traffic stop in Georgetown and to stop recording his encounter with them, the Metropolitan Police Department issued a general order against such illegal interference with citizens’ exercise of their First Amendment rights. The order (PDF), part of an agreement settling a federal lawsuit Vorus filed last year with help from the American Civil Liberties Union of the Nation’s Capital, “recognizes that members of the general public have a First Amendment right to video record, photograph, and/or audio record MPD members while MPD members are conducting official business or while acting in an official capacity in any public space, unless such recordings interfere with police activity.” That was not the position taken by the cops who detained Vorus in July 2010, four of whom incorrectly informed him that he was breaking the law by photographing and recording police without permission from the department’s public affairs office. To the contrary, Police Chief Cathy Lanier says in the new directive, “A bystander has the same right to take photographs or make recordings as a member of the media, as long as the bystander has a legal right to be present where he or she is located.”

That right applies in “public settings” such as “parks, sidewalks, streets, and locations of public protests” as well as “an individual’s home or business, common areas of public and private facilities and buildings, and any other public or private facility at which the individual has a legal right to be present.” If someone is legally taking pictures or making a recording, an officer may not “order that person to cease such activity,” “demand that person’s identification,” “demand that the person state a reason why he or she is taking photographs or recording,” “detain that person,” “intentionally block or obstruct cameras or recording devices,” or “”in any way threaten, intimidate or otherwise discourage an individual from recording [officers’] enforcement activities.” Furthermore, “a person has the right to express criticism of the police activity being observed…so long as that expression does not jeopardize the safety of any member, suspect or bystander…and so long as that expression does not violate the law or incite others to violate the law.”

It’s sad that it takes a lawsuit to get these basic truths recognized, but this is still progress.

WAR ON PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: Cop Took Cell Phone Used to Film Him, Lawsuit Alleges Retaliation.

The war on cameras continues in Point Marion, Pennsylvania, with a federal lawsuit filed by a man whose cell phone police confiscated. Gregory Rizer says he was at a friend’s house, filming a police officer he felt was being aggressive in his questioning of his quadriplegic friend about the whereabouts of her cousin.

The police officer, Kevin Lukart, confiscated the cellphone and Rizer was eventually charged under the state’s wiretap law, a common prosecutorial tactic against those who film police officers in states with two-party consent or other wiretapping laws. The charges were dropped by the state attorney in February (the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled in 1989 and again in 2005 that police officers don ‘t have an expectation of privacy under the wiretapping law) and Rizer says in his lawsuit the memory card was missing (surprise!) when his cell phone was returned to him.

So it’s theft as well as abuse of power?

UPDATE: I suppose I should take this opportunity to once again plug Morgan Manning’s excellent piece on photographers’ rights, as well as my own piece (coauthored with John Steakley) on a due-process right to record the police.

WAR ON PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: Exclusive Video: Bike Cop Shuts Down Video as Protesters Call for Eric Holder to be Fired.

WAR ON PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: Texas Man Faces 10 Years in Prison for Recording Cops.

In light of the Glik decision, I’m not sure they can claim official immunity here. Send ’em a copy of A Due Process Right to Record the Police. And, of course, Morgan Manning’s seminal article. And based on the video, the cops in this case should be fired, and prosecuted for lying.

WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY: Reno Newspaper Photographer, 60, Assaulted by Deputies While Covering Fire.

WAR ON PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: Justice Dept. Defends Public’s Constitutional ‘Right to Record’ Cops.

As police departments around the country are increasingly caught up in tussles with members of the public who record their activities, the U.S. Justice Department has come out with a strong statement supporting the First Amendment right of individuals to record police officers in the public discharge of their duties.

In a surprising letter (.pdf) sent on Monday to attorneys for the Baltimore Police Department, the Justice Department also strongly asserted that officers who seize and destroy such recordings without a warrant or without due process are in strict violation of the individual’s Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

The letter was sent to the police department as it prepares for meetings to discuss a settlement over a civil lawsuit brought by a citizen who sued the department after his camera was seized by police.

I suppose this is a good time to mention A Due Process Right To Record The Police again . . . .

WAR ON PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: FAA Rips Delta Passenger for Filming Bird Strike.

WAR ON PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: MY NEW LAW REVIEW ARTICLE, A Due Process Right To Record The Police, co-authored with John Steakley, is now available online. It’ll be out in print from the Washington University Law Review in May. Download early and often. It’s short and punchy! (Bumped).

WAR ON PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: MY NEW LAW REVIEW ARTICLE, A Due Process Right To Record The Police, co-authored with John Steakley, is now available online. It’ll be out in print from the Washington University Law Review in May. Download early and often. It’s short and punchy!

WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: Cops Would Be Liable Arresting Citizens For Recording Under Approved Conn. Bill. “The Connecticut state senate approved a bill Thursday that would allow citizens to sue police officers who arrest them for recording in public, apparently the first of its kind in the nation. . . . According to the Hartford Courant, the bill was inspired by the 2009 incident in which a priest was arrested for video recording cops inside a store shaking down immigrants, which led to a Department of Justice investigation and the arrest of four officers.”

WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: Man Wins $1.4 Million Settlement From Boston Police In Video Recording Incident.

A man who was tackled by a cop and placed in a chokehold while video recording a traffic investigation won a $1.4 million settlement this week.

Michael O’Brian said the 2009 incident left him brain-damaged and unable to return to work as a corrections officer for the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office.

The Boston police officer who tackled him, David Williams, was fired in January. . . .

In November 2011, Maury Povino filed a lawsuit against the Boston Police Department after they arrested him for video recording them.

Paulino was charged with felony wiretapping along with assault and battery on a police officer, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest in the 2009 incident.

The wiretapping charge was quickly dropped and he beat the other charges in court.

At this stage, even filing the wiretapping charges should be grounds for additional discipline. And I guess I should provide one more plug for Morgan Manning’s article on photographers’ rights. Plus, my forthcoming piece in the Washington University law Review on a due-process-based right to record the police.

WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: North Port man videotaped arrest, then got arrested. “Although the 57-year-old computer technician assumed he had a legal right to document the incident, Horrigan was arrested, handcuffed and taken away for a night in jail. He was charged with obstruction, but also with the rare crime of eavesdropping, a third-degree felony in Florida that carries a punishment of up to five years in prison.”

Sue ’em, and don’t settle for peanuts. And send ’em a copy of Morgan Manning’s article on photographers’ rights.

A VICTORY FOR CITIZENS IN THE WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY: Public can record Baltimore police officers on duty, new rules say. “Baltimore police have issued new rules governing how officers deal with a public increasingly armed with cameras and video records, saying that in most instances, cops cannot stop people from filming crime scenes. The general orders, issued in November and made public Friday, come days ahead of a federal court hearing in a civil suit brought by a man who says an officer confiscated his cell phone camera and deleted images of an arrest at the Preakness Stakes in 2010.”

Somebody must have read Morgan Manning’s article on photographers’ rights.

WAR ON PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: ACLU Sues Los Angeles Police For Harassing Photographers For Taking Photos With “No Apparent Aesthetic Value.”

Send ’em a copy of Morgan Manning’s article.

DENALI NATIONAL PARK and the War On Photography.

HOW SMARTPHONES are changing digital photography. “It will take time before cameraphones are good enough to seriously challenge enthusiast compact cameras in terms of baseline functionality, but more and more, images from smartphones are appearing in online publications and even the occasional newspaper story, that would traditionally have been the preserve of professionals carrying ‘serious’ cameras. It’s not just the spontaneity of cameraphones or their increasingly impressive image quality that makes them appealing to photographers. There are a huge range of photo-related apps available that can enhance the picture-taking process. . . . We’re not all professional photojournalists working in warzones of course, but wherever you are, you might sympathise with Winter’s argument that sometimes snapping pictures with a smartphone is much more practical than it would be with a DSLR. A common complaint amongst photographers all over the world, peaceful and war-torn alike is that police and security officials, as well as ordinary people regard them and their equipment at best with suspicion, and sometimes with open aggression. In this environment, the cameraphone comes into its own. Small, discrete and connected, it can send photos and video around the world in seconds, from places where pulling out a DSLR or compact camera might just create unwarranted attention.”

THINGS YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED OVER THE WEEKEND, if you were out having a life or something:

Busting Obama’s “Anti-Gay” Demagoguery.

Gunwalker Under White House Control? New documents reveal extensive White House communication with the ATF head behind the scandal.

Thoughts on amending the Constitution in my Sunday Washington Examiner column.

Ken Anderson on the legality of the Al-Awlaki killing. Plus thoughts from Walter Russell Mead, Stephen L. Carter, and Richard Miniter. And Professor Bainbridge mocks some hypocrites.

John Hinderaker: Peppered In NYC. “One can only assume that this kind of police abuse has been going on for a long time, but was not often revealed–at least, not this starkly–before the era of ubiquitous digital photography and video. But the days are gone when a policeman can wantonly assault protesters, no matter how obnoxious they may be–let alone photographers. That’s a good thing.”

How’s that hopey-changey stuff workin’ out for ya? The Forever Recession.

What do you call people who are obsessed with Chris Christie’s weight as a disqualification for the Presidency? Why, “girthers,” of course!

The latest crime wave: Sending your child to a better school. Plus, a tree grows in Scottsdale. [I see what you did there — ed. Of course you do.]

Poll: Obama Cratering In Swing States.

DARPA’S 100-year starship.

A Sicilian explains what’s really behind the Wall Street protests.

I’m guessing not: Will Morgan Freeman answer Ali Akbar?

Plus, for all the “pass the bill” talk, Obama’s Jobs Bill Still Has No Cosponsors, in either the House or the Senate. Perhaps some enterprising journalist should call House and Senate Democrats and ask them why they’re not cosponsoring the President’s bill!

WAR ON PHOTOGRAPHY: Busted At The Post Office. Just gathering historical evidence of the time just before its demise . . . .

COWARDS TRY TO SILENCE THE PUBLIC: Horn-honkers cited at Kelly Thomas protest. “Drivers honking their horns near a ‘Justice for Kelly Thomas’ protest in Fullerton on Saturday were cited by police officers on suspicion of illegally using that vehicle feature, the Fullerton Police Department has confirmed. Thomas was a 37-year-old homeless man fatally injured after a confrontation with six Fullerton police officers. The incident is still under investigation.” Think they’d be issuing tickets if it were a support-the-police protest? I don’t. Miserable putzes.

Nobody respects you guys when you act this way. You merely take a crap on your badge and uniform. And when budget cuts come up — and they will — a lot of people who might have stood up for you will decide not to bother. Just so you know.

UPDATE: A reader who requests anonymity says that I’m wrong:

The protestors for Kelly Thomas have been numerous, loud and disruptive. The protest starts at 9:00 AM and goes until 3:00 PM every Saturday now since August – and the horns and the bullhorns and the occasional vvuzelas – are sounded almost non-stop. This is done in an area of businesses. There are also homes only a less than two blocks away. People in vehicles, often the same vehicles circling back through, do not simply honk their horn, they lay on the horn for a quarter of a mile or more. It gets old really, really quickly.

I would suggest looking at the comments on the OCRegister site, such as this one:


1:53 PM on September 11, 2011

I’ve read several posts below and as usual most are not able to stay on topic. For many, any retaliatory, illegal action is excusable. So the same thing that many are accusing these cops of, is the same way that many accusing posters have themselves been acting. It is a form of emotional insanity.

If I lived within earshot of FPD and heard CONTINUOUS horns, I would have called the PD and complained, as many residents have done. Protest if you must, but don’t ruin everyone else’s day by being inconsiderate and obnoxious.

or this one:


12:05 PM on September 11, 2011

The investigation is still on going. In time after the facts are ascertained people will be charged accordingly. It will go to court. It’s going to take time. Actually justice rather than the mobs perception of it, is not instant.

The FPD has bent over backwards to allow the irrational to stand out there and rant. every weekend. No justice, no peace, really? Guess someone was channeling Maxine Waters. The protests continued their merry way all day. They didn’t try to silence the bullhorn. Simply a few cars operated by morons who had no sense of respect for all the businesses and homes around the police station.

Sorry they aren’t just going to hand them over to you. Lynch mobs are so passe.

Further the guy they ought to be hounding is the DA though he doesn’t deserve it either, as hes doing his job.

The tragedy of this is the polarization that is occurring. At city hall meetings anyone who stands up and suggests that the FBI, etc., be allowed to complete their investigation is shouted down and booed by the protestors. Reminds me a great deal of the “civil discourse” in the political realm we see from too many liberals and their allies.

Okay, maybe I went off half-cocked here, against the background of so much “war against photography” stuff and misbehavior/side-taking by the police in Madison, Wisconsin. Or maybe not, but I should have allowed for the possibility. My mistake.

WAR ON PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: ACLU settles case of man cited for taping friend’s arrest.

The American Civil Liberties Union has won a $48,500 settlement of a lawsuit stemming from a Hill District man’s arrest for videotaping police, it announced today.

Elijah Matheny was arrested in April 2009 when he used his cell phone to record the arrest of a friend by University of Pittsburgh police. The police said they got Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office approval to accuse him of wiretapping. All charges against Mr. Matheny later were dropped.

The settlement ends a case that the ACLU lost in U.S. District Court and then pursued to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The 3rd Circuit ruled in an unrelated case that it is legal to record officers’ work.

Of course it is.

WAR ON PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: Court says state law used to ban recording of police officers in public is unconstitutional.

A Boston lawyer suing the city and police officers who arrested him for using his cell phone to record a drug arrest on the Common won a victory today when a federal appeals court said the officers could not claim “qualified immunity” because they were performing their job when they arrested him under a state law that bars audio recordings without the consent of both parties.

In its ruling, which lets Simon Glik continue his lawsuit, the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston said the way Glik was arrested and his phone seized under a state wiretapping law violated his First and Fourth Amendment rights.

Good. The really important part is that the court held that the right to photograph is “clearly established,” meaning that the officers are not entitled to official immunity. Full opinion here. And some useful background reading here. Key bit: “The proliferation of electronic devices with video-recording capability means that many of our images of current events come from bystanders with a ready cell phone or digital camera rather than a traditional film crew, and news stories are now just as likely to be broken by a blogger at her computer as a reporter at a major newspaper. Such developments make clear why the news-gathering protections of the First Amendment cannot turn on professional credentials or status.” Indeed.


Akron police officer Donald Schismenos, an 18-year veteran, has been placed on leave with pay pending the completion of an internal investigation, city officials say. . . .

Schismenos was suspended by Mayor Don Plusquellic because he allegedly went against a superior’s orders and filed felony charges against an Akron woman who filmed him making an arrest in June 2009.

Dude, you don’t have a right to be free from public scrutiny while doing your job. I predict an unhappy outcome for officer Schismenos. Meanwhile, some remedial reading on photographers’ rights.

WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: Police Chief Jim McDonnell has confirmed that detaining photographers for taking pictures “with no apparent esthetic value” is within Long Beach Police Department policy.

Send Chief McDonnell a copy of Morgan Manning’s article on photographers’ rights.

UPDATE: Reader Steven Hupp makes the inevitable no-apparent-esthetic-value joke: “So, it’s probably been said already, but would I be detained if I took a picture of Chief Jim McDonnell?”

WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: Police inquiry reveals violations in arrest, beating of videographer. Ya think?

Make him read a copy of Morgan Manning’s article on photographers’ rights. In a prison cell.

OPED: “War On Photography” Tramples Rights.

AN OPED FROM MORGAN MANNING: “War On Photography” Tramples Rights.

WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: Police accountability activists and their supporters celebrate court victory. “Northwestern Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey Banks argued that because the officers were unaware their images were transmitted to a third party and uploaded to the Web, that process took place in secrecy — a violation of a so-called wiretapping statute forbidding the secret recording or hearing of a conversation, or aiding in the transmission or hearing of that conversation.” He should be embarrassed to have his name associated with this dumb argument. Let me suggest some remedial reading.

WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: Charges Against Emily Good Dropped. “It took less than a minute for a judge to dismiss an obstructing governmental administration charge against Good, saying there was no legal basis to move forward. Good was arrested last month while videotaping a traffic stop outside her Rochester home. She was taken into custody after Good failed to go inside her home when ordered to by Rochester police officer Mario Masic.” I wish the judge had ordered Mario Masic to take some remedial courses in the first amendment while he was at it. But at least Mario Masic’s name has been identified with this lawless action, and with this: “On Monday a judge, the district attorney’s office, Mayor Richards, and Police Chief Jim Sheppard all agreed with the decision to drop the charge against Good.”

But the police union says you should just shut up and do what officers say. Good’s suing, though. I hope she wins.

Perhaps Masic can be ordered to read Morgan Manning’s article on photographers’ rights — and pass a quiz afterward. Maybe, judging by the police union’s position, that should be extended to the entire Rochester force. . . .

A NEW DEFENSE IN THE WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY: Spy-Like Sunglasses Shoot And Share Video. “The Ray-Ban-style shades capture an extra-wide 130-degree field of vision through a half-inch fisheye-like lens, which is masked as a grommet on the right side of the frame. A 0.2-inch high-def sensor captures images, and then a low-power one-gigahertz processor compresses the video. The footage is either saved into onboard flash memory or beamed from a 2.4-gigahertz Wi-Fi/Bluetooth radio to your smartphone. An app controls the camera remotely and acts a host through which footage streams to Facebook, YouTube or the Eyez homepage.”

WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY (CONT’D): Arrest of woman taping police sparks controversy. “The Rochester Police Department is investigating the arrest of a woman who was videotaping police during a traffic stop in front of a home on Aldine Street. . . . The incident has drawn the attention of the National Press Photographers Association Inc., based in Durham, N.C.”

Read Morgan Manning’s article.

WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: Chicago State’s Attorney Lets Bad Cops Slide, Prosecutes Citizens Who Record Them.

WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: Miami Police Shoot Man to Death, Attempt to Steal/Destroy All Video Evidence of Shooting Man to Death. I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s worth mentioning again.

And I should also plug Morgan Manning’s law review article on photographers’ rights again, too. Can we get some federal civil rights legislation, with attorney’s fees and statutory damages?

UPDATE: Though the Reason headline says Miami, following the linked stories indicates that it’s Miami Beach.

THE WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY: Less than Picture Perfect: the Legal Relationship between Photographers’ Rights and Law Enforcement. This article, by my former research assistant Morgan Manning, is very much worth your time if you’re interested in this topic. (Bumped.)

WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY, CONT’D: “Michael Segal said he was filming the protesters for a website,, when a police officer took his cellphone and arrested him when he inquired about how he would get it back. Segal, 25, of Coral Springs, Fla., was charged with disorderly conduct.”

And, see, when they’ve got your cellphone they’ve got your contacts and other information, too. That’s an advantage for the cheap dedicated videocams, unless you’re using the cellphone to stream the video elsewhere for safekeeping.

THE WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY (CONT’D): Miami Beach Police Ordered Videographer At Gunpoint To Hand Over Phone: But video survived even after police tried to destroy phone. Reader Matthew Hennessy writes: “Dunno if this was already linked, but I’d recommend for videographers at live events where this might happen, as it runs on smartphones and will save copies of livestreamed videos for later viewing.”

WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: ACLU welcomes MTA’s response on photography. “The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland welcomed the decision of the Maryland Transit Administration to disavow efforts of some of its transit police to prevent photographers from taking pictures of its facilities and the agency’s vow to promulgate policies emphasizing the rights of photographers.”

Related: MTA chief repudiates photographer curbs.

THE WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY (CONT’D): Mother of 3 Arrested for Taking Pictures of Tourist Attraction at Airport.

UPDATE: A followup. That default judgment probably won’t stick, but it’ll certainly get their attention.

WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: Police in Weare, NH arrest man for recording traffic stop. My message to the Weare police: What are you afraid of? Do you have something to hide? If you’re innocent, you should have nothing to fear . . . .

WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: Atlanta Police Department Won’t Hinder Citizens Who Videotape Cops. “Faced with complaints from a citizen watchdog group, Atlanta police will stop interfering with people who videotape officers performing their duties in public, an agreement reached with the city Thursday says. The settlement, which also calls for the city to pay $40,000 in damages, requires city council approval. The agreement resolves a complaint filed by Marlon Kautz and Copwatch of East Atlanta, a group that films police activity with cell phones and hand-held cameras. The group has volunteers who go out on patrols and begin videotaping police activity when they come across it.”

WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: Black teen who filmed an LAUSD campus cop hitting a student faces bizarre charges and years in prison.

On Dec. 2, Jeremy Marks, a Verdugo Hills High School special education student, was offered a new plea offer by the L.A. County District Attorney: If he pled guilty to charges of obstructing an officer, resisting arrest, criminal threats and “attempted lynching,” he’d serve only 32 months in prison.

That actually was an improvement from the previous offer made to the young, black high schooler — seven years in prison.

The D.A. then handed Angela Berry-Jacoby, Mark’s lawyer, a stack of 130 documents, and the message within those thick files was clear: She says District Attorney Steve Cooley’s prosecution team plans to try to discredit Marks, and several other Verdugo Hills High School students on the witness stand, by dragging out misbehavior incidents from their school records over the years.

Marks, 18, has been sitting in Peter Pitchess Detention Center, a tough adult jail, since May 10. Bail was set at $155,000, which his working-class parents can’t pay to free their son for Christmas. His mother is a part-time clerk at a city swimming pool, his father is a lab tech.

The first thing to understand is that Jeremy Marks touched no one during his “attempted lynching” of LAUSD campus police officer Erin Robles.

The second is that Marks’ weapon was the camera in his cell phone.

There’s an “attempted lynching,” all right, but . . . .

More here: The Curious Case of Jeremy Marks: Student Accused of Trying to Lynch a Campus Cop.

UPDATE: Reader C.J. Burch emails: “Campus cops, like teachers, only have the nerve to make trouble for the kids they think won’t give them a bad time back.”

JON STEWART’S WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY? “Rally to Resore Sanity” pledges to “strictly prohibit filming” at National Mall. “The claim that Comedy Central can prohibit filming on federal property during an event open to the public is completely wrong.”

But it’s revealing that they’d try. It’s really the Rally To Reassert The Failed Narrative. Plus, from the comments: “We smell their fear.”

UPDATE: Charlie Martin emails: “It’s pretty clear that ‘sanity’ in this context means ‘seeing and hearing what we think is good for you.'”

WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: You Can Photograph That Federal Building. “The right of photographers to stand in a public place and take pictures of federal buildings has been upheld by a legal settlement reached in New York. . . . The settlement, filed on Friday, ended a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security by Antonio Musumeci, 29, of Edgewater, N.J. He was arrested Nov. 9, 2009, as he videotaped a demonstrator in front of the Daniel Patrick Moynihan United States Courthouse at 500 Pearl Street. His principal camera was confiscated but he recorded the encounter on a second camera. On two later occasions, he was also threatened with arrest.”

Full text of the settlement agreement is here.

A VICTORY IN THE WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY: Charges dismissed against Md. man who taped traffic stop.

A Harford County Circuit Court judge Monday dismissed wiretapping charges against Anthony Graber, a motorcyclist who was jailed briefly after he taped a Maryland state trooper who stopped him for speeding on I-95. Graber used a camera mounted on his helmet, then posted the video on YouTube. . . . Judge Emory A. Pitt Jr. had to decide whether police performing their duties have an expectation of privacy in public space. Pitt ruled that police can have no such expectation in their public, on-the-job communications.

Pitt wrote: “Those of us who are public officials and are entrusted with the power of the state are ultimately accountable to the public. When we exercise that power in public fora, we should not expect our actions to be shielded from public observation. ‘Sed quis custodiet ipsos cutodes’ (“Who watches the watchmen?”).”

Indeed. This is obviously correct, and it is an utter disgrace that Harford County state’s attorney Joseph I. Cassilly brought charges anyway.

UPDATE: Or maybe not. Reader Carl Dahlman writes:

In a TV interview last summer, Cassilly said that he believes that the police have no right to privacy when stopping people on the highway. He stated that he brought the suit in order to get legal clarification of the basic issue. If he lost, he’d be happy; if he won, the State legislature would have to act.

Seems to me Cassilly got the matter settled without needing statutory remedy. Bully for him. Maybe you should not be so hard on him.

Also, kudos to the State AG who issued an opinion last summer that troopers have no right to privacy on the highway. I’m sure that influenced the judge.


ANOTHER UPDATE: On the other hand, reader Steven Wells writes:

I read with some interest the comments of your reader Carl Dahlman regarding the dismissal of charges against the Maryland man who taped a traffic stop. Mr. Dahlman suggests that it is a good thing the prosecutor brought charges because this clarified matters without getting a statutory remedy. I disagree.

As a criminal defense lawyer, I think this type of prosecution is a disgrace, as you wrote in your initial post. Criminal charges endanger our most fundamental rights and liberties. For a prosecutor to file charges simply to clarify a vague statute is greatly troublesome. If a statute is vague, then prosecutors should not be filing charges at all. The defendant in this case had to hire an attorney (although I understand from some accounts he may have had pro bono counsel, this is still a real issue), have his name broadcast throughout national media, go through the process of obtaining bail (which is a restriction on liberty), and face the very real possibility of being a convicted felon. All of this when the prosecution admits that there was a distinct possibility that there was no basis for a charge?

There is no need for a statutory remedy in this circumstance. Prosecutors have a great deal of discretion in how they do their jobs and that discretion is all the ‘remedy’ this situation needs. I do not know Maryland’s ethical code, but under Rule 3.8 of the Rules of Professional Conduct, prosecutors should not prosecute a case if they know the charges are not supported by probable cause. It seems to me that if the prosecutor admits that the statute is vague, there is a very real argument that the prosector should know these charges are not supported by probable cause.

Just some food for thought.


THE WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY GOES UNDERSEA! Giant Manta Ray swipes $5k camera rig from diver, shoots some video. Or maybe the manta just wanted to join in . . . .

WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY (CONT’D): Police continue to harass citizens who record them.

A PROSECUTOR ON THE WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY: A reader who asks anonymity emails:

I’ve followed with interest your series on police misconduct in harassing or arresting bystanders who photograph or video officers on duty. We had a similar case this month – we dismissed the charge immediately and began an internal review of all the officer’s pending cases. His boss (the County Sheriff) brought the matter immediately to our attention and launched an IA investigation as well.

Just wanted you to know that not all prosecutors are idiots … :-)

Some additional inside baseball: nearly all of our officers and their chiefs strongly support audio and visual recording of officers while on duty. Most jurisdictions here have voice-activated microphones and video cameras mounted in their patrol cars and remote microphones clipped to their officers’ collars. Many of these devices automatically download video and audio feeds directly to remote servers to prevent tampering with the raw footage. But the cameras cannot capture everything that happens around an officer and the microphones have a limited range, so bystanders’ portable video can be a potent source of evidence documenting that an officer acted properly – which they do in the vast majority of instances.

Yes, as I’ve noted before, officers who are behaving properly should welcome this sort of thing. And it’s worth noting that when officers and prosecutors act properly, it usually doesn’t make the news.


But to arrest someone who is unmistakably on their own property, and doing nothing remotely illegal, is an abuse of power pure and simple. Even if it were true that Gibson was endangering herself by witnessing the traffic stop from the confines of her front porch, how could that possibly be construed as “resisting arrest” or “obstructing the police” without eviscerating everything that the concept of private property (not to mention plain old individual rights) stands for? Taking such a risk is not illegal. Doing it while occupying one’s homestead should be recognized as unassailably within one’s rights.

Since it appears that neither the police nor the district attorney’s office can be shamed into refraining from such power abuses, perhaps it will take a fat lawsuit for violations of Gibson’s (et al.) constitutional rights to get their attention.


MORE ON the war against photography. “If the police are doing their jobs properly, they should have nothing to worry about.”

BETTER SOFTWARE FOR DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY. “Camera-phone owners can use new software to reprogram these devices–and capture images that would previously have been impossible to get.”

“STEP AWAY FROM THE CAMERA!” More on the war against photography.

IF YOU MISSED IT YESTERDAY, check out my Popular Mechanics column on the War Against Photography.

MY POPULAR MECHANICS COLUMN THIS MONTH is on the War Against Photography.

Too many officials think taking photos is a crime. Here’s why they’re wrong. . . . Today, most people walk around with a camera of some sort in their possession. Point-and-shoots, DSLRs and tiny video cams–not to mention cellphones–have become ubiquitous. And yet it seems that in many public locations, security officials are touchier than ever about letting people actually use those cameras. Our guardians of public safety often have the idea that shooting pictures in public places might be a precursor to some sort of terrorism. It’s an understandable concern, but misguided. I believe there is a good case to be made that having lots of cameras in the hands of citizens makes us more, rather than less, safe.

Need I say, read the whole thing?

UPDATE: Reader Lance Christensen emails: “First they came for our guns, but the liberals said nothing, because they don’t have any guns. Then they came for our cameras…”

WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY — AND ACCOUNTABILITY — CONT’D: Growing Number of Prosecutions for Videotaping the Police. “So then the question is, ‘Are the words of a police officer spoken on duty, in uniform, in public a ‘private conversation.’ And every court that has ever considered that question has said that they are not.” Police have no expectation of privacy. They certainly don’t recognize any such in the rest of us. And prosecutors who bring such charges should lose their jobs, and maybe their law licenses. Law enforcement officials who are afraid of public accountability do not deserve their offices, or our respect or deference. Act like a thug, expect to be thought of as a thug.

WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY (CONT’D)? We were permanently banned from the Miami-Dade Metrorail for taking photos.


Harrisonburg’s top prosecutor and James Madison University’s student newspaper have reached a settlement under which the state will pay $10,000 in legal fees that the paper accumulated while arguing against the seizure of staff photographs documenting a riot. . . . The Washington-based attorney for The Breeze said the most important piece of the settlement between the student newspaper and Garst was her admission that a seizure of photos wasn’t the right way to go.

“I admire the commonwealth’s attorney for her willingness to stand up and say so,” said attorney Seth Berlin.

Better late than never on that realization, I guess.

THE WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY: Radley Balko has more on Maryland. “Graber is due in court next week. He faces up to five years in prison. State’s Attorney Joseph Cassilly has also charged Graber with ‘Possession of an Interception Device.’ That ‘device’ would be Graber’s otherwise-perfectly-legal video camera. . . . Perhaps that officer was merely misinformed. But Maryland police spokesmen and prosecutors are giving the impression that the state’s wiretapping law is ambiguous about recording on-duty police officers. It really isn’t. They’ve just chosen to interpret it that way, logic and common sense be damned. . . . A cynic might conclude that law enforcement officials in Maryland are reacting to the McKenna embarrassment by threatening and cracking down on anyone who videotapes on-duty cops, and they’ll interpret the law in whatever way allows them to do so. At least until a court tells them otherwise.”

This is a disgrace. State’s Attorney Joseph Cassilly should hear from Marylanders who care about freedom — and this seems to be me to be another argument for federal civil rights legislation guaranteeing the right to photograph police. With hefty damages, and a waiver of official immunity, for cases like Graber’s. . . .

WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: “It’s part of living in a free society.”

“WAR ON PHOTOGRAPHY” REACHES OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY: OSU backtracks in arrest of ‘Lantern’ photographer. “Until cooler heads prevailed yesterday, Ohio State had soared to breathtaking heights over a meadow muffin, beginning by handcuffing and detaining a student news photographer who was chronicling the roundup of two escaped cows. Alex Kotran was doing his job as a photographer for The Lantern, OSU’s student-run newspaper, on April 21 when campus Police Officer William Linton ordered him to move along, then handcuffed him. The officer arrested the photographer presumably because Kotran crossed a crime-scene line. In truth, there being no crime-scene tape, any line drawn was not only invisible but arbitrary as well.”

Dopes. They deserve humiliation, and a lawsuit. Plus this: “Shame on Police Chief Paul Denton for not telling Linton, ‘Put your gun away, Barney. This is Mayberry, not Miami Vice.’ . . . Shame on a university whose inaction suggested that it cared so little about the First Amendment that it would not even rise to protect a photographer to whom it paid nothing for the gathering of its news.”

OTTAWA JOINS THE war on photography.

WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: Photographers and Police: A First Amendment Clash.

WAR ON PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: UK minister aims to reassure photographers. “The UK Policing and Crime Minister has reasserted that anti-terrorism should not be used to stop photographers and photojournalists. In a meeting with a Parliamentary photography group and journalists, David Hanson MP said the Sections 44 and 58A of the 2000 Terrorist Act should not be ‘used to stop ordinary people taking photos or to curtail legitimate journalistic activity’. He also said guidance to that effect has been provided to the UK police forces, advising that these powers should not be used to stop innocent members of the public, tourists and journalists.”


WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY (CONT’D): Photographer arrested at mall after taking holiday photos. Judging from this report, he should sue the Town Center Mall in Charleston, whose behavior was obviously unreasonable, and he should seek discipline regarding officer R.C. Basford. Perhaps he settle for a written apology, and a promise to train personnel to respect photographers’ rights.

WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY, CONT’D: Photographer beaten, detained in London for being “cocky” to policeman who implies she is a terrorist. Tar. Feathers.

DIGITAL CAMERA CARNIVAL: A reader asked for advice a while back, and as I noted I haven’t been in the market lately. So here are some of the responses to my earlier bleg. Reader Michael Cummins writes:

My wife and I still love the 10MP Samsung you shouted out to in this post, which is still available at Amazon for $127.

It’s been a standup all around pocket camera, and it looks like they have a new 12 MP version here for $274.

Reader Robert Schwartz writes:

I really like my Canon A1000. It cost me $140, has an f 2.7 lens, and lots of other features. I regard the 2 AA batteries as a feature not a bug, but they do make the camera bigger than its more expensive mates that use rechargeable Liion batteries. But not that big. I find it to be pocketable.

That said, there are a lot of good cameras available in the $100 — $200 category.

Yes, there are, including this Nikon.

And reader C.J. Gordon writes:

I’m going to put in a plug for the Pentax line of DSLR’s. Lili and I use the K200 model for our work on both our sites.One of our two cameras is approaching 75,000 shutter activations and the other is a little over 10,000.Not bad for cameras in the $600.00 price range.Pentax offers good value for the money and has some very fine lenses also. C.J. Gordon of the eroticalee sites.

Here’s a review from Half Sigma of the Canon S90.

Reader Corey Appleby writes:

I recently purchased a Samsung TL320 digital camera and I love it.

The lens is amazing but the part I like is the OS. So far none of the things I’d want to adjust are more than two button clicks away, and the on-screen menu is incredibly simple to navigate.

Plus it has two super fun retro dials on the top to display memory and battery usage.

Reader Natalie Moresco emails:

I am normally a Nikon kind of person, but I was heading for a 2 week trip to Cancun with my family (including sons and nephews) and really wanted a waterproof (point and shoot) camera. Nikon doesn’t have one, so I looked around, read reviews, thought about it, looked around some more, until I almost didn’t have time to order it anymore and finally ordered the Canon D10. It is somewhat bulky, but I love it! It was great on the trip, it is durable and it’s great fun. I could give it to my kids and newphews (18mos – 8yrs) to let them take pictures of each other in the pool and learn to take care of a camera without being worried about it. It is also dust- and shockproof. And the picture quality is really good. We took it to the beach, swimming with dolphins, in the pool, everywhere.

I think all gadgets should be waterproof, personally. And reader John Smith writes: “Nikon D300s is WAAAAAY cheaper than D300 on Amazon.” He’s right.

Reader Greg Dougherty writes: “The Canon Powershot SX 10 IS is, IMHO, the best point and shoot camera out there. It is not great in low light / no flash situations. But neither is any other under $400 camera that I know of. Other than that, it has 20x Optical zoom, and a wide range of controls to let you fiddle with what you want, and the support you need so you can ignore the rest.”

Well, the bottom line is that there are lots of good cameras out there. In fact, nowadays the technology has matured to the point that a bad digital camera is so unusual it’s practically newsworthy.

Meanwhile, reader Bill Cook writes: “What’s the single-best how-to book you’ve seen on digital photography? Man, I really need one. I have a nice camera, but my pics are mucho fail.” I like Scott Kelby’s books. There’s also the Basic Book Of Digital Photography.

And if you just want to browse, there’s a Digital SLR store And the folks at DP Review have a buying guide. Plus, here’s a roundup of point-and-shoot cameras.

PHOTOGRAPHERS WIN Britain’s War On Photography? “The harrassment of photographers by police officers is said to have senior officers ‘exasperated, depressed and embarrassed,’ and they characterize officers’ belief that anti-terror laws prohibit photography as an ‘internal urban myth.'”

Make a few examples and it’ll stop. Othewise they don’t think you mean it.

SOME TEA PARTY PHOTOS from Fresno. “Fresno had over 7.500 attend the most polite protest I have ever witnessed.” Plus, “Black People Against Obama,” and “Mixed People Against Obama.” Hey, that’s not part of the narrative!

UPDATE: Reader Larry Price sends this picture of the “angry old white men” standing in front of him at the Atlanta Tea Party.


ANOTHER UPDATE: Another one of those angry white guys, in Virginia Beach.

MORE: Lefty reader Nicholas Klemen writes: ‘You found photos of 6 black people at tea parties! Thats proof that there isn’t any racism going on at the protests. Take that Dems! Keep up the good work.” Well, there wasn’t any sign of racism at the Tea Party I attended, nor have I seen any reports from anywhere else. All I’ve seen are bogus claims of racism from apparatchik lefties who are — as Bob McManus predicted a month ago — hitting this note for lack of anything else to say, and because it’s their tired response to anything threatening.

That’s not the moral high ground you’re standing on, Nicholas. It’s just a big ol’ pile of crap.

Are the Tea Parties as heavily white as a Code Pink protest or a Howard Dean meetup? Maybe, I dunno. (And didn’t Dean call for white guys with Confederate flags to join the Democrats?) But the “Tea Partiers are racist” argument is typical sloppy sloganeering and deserves even less respect than I’m giving it here.

FINALLY: Some thoughts from Justin Katz. And be sure to check out these photos, too.

CHECK OUT PJTV for lots of Tea Party coverage today. Current live stream is here.

Also, lots of stuff via Twitter.

UPDATE: Reader Jay Brinker sends this cellphone pic from Cincinnati:


And here’s another pic from reader J. Binik-Thomas who writes: “Vine street closed. Fountain square full. Estimate 4000-4500.” People are still arriving.


Reader Steven Pelton writes from Rochester:

This morning at 11:00, I took my toddler daughter to our local tea party behind the federal building in downtown Rochester. There had to have been at least 500 people at 11, but I had to leave early (lunch time for the toddler, you know). Maybe 500-700, but people were still coming when we were leaving.

A few Paulicans (“America is a surveillance state”, etc.), a few evangelists, but everyone was very nice, helpful (especially to a guy with a bulky stroller), and upbeat. Sorry I’m not sending any pictures. The one thing I forgot was the camera. Hopefully someone will send them on soon. It’s still going on, so hopefully any later reports have the numbers at much bigger than 500-700.

Stay tuned. And reader James Woolery writes from Napa:

I took the first two hours of my work day off as vacation so I could go to the Tea Party in downtown Napa before heading into the hospital in Vallejo to do consultations.

There were about 200 protesters at the gathering, which was quiet and good-natured. People assembled on Main Street downtown in front of the office of Mike Thompson, our local US Congressman, a Democrat. (He did not seem to be in at the time!) There were people of all ages, but the majority appeared to be boomers. Being a veteran of anti-Vietnam War protests in my youth, it was striking to witness the tone of this gathering, which was peaceful in the extreme, entirely moderate (the most raucous expression of protest was a guy beating on a drum in a sort of Revolutionary War tattoo!)…

There were no counter-protesters or agents provocateurs.

I was suprised and encouraged that there were as many as 200 people in the Napa Valley who would attend a gathering like this.

Many who drove down Main Street past the protesters honked in support!

I asked a woman who took a photo of the whole group to forward it to you; I’m not certain that will happen, but I hope so.

Word will get out. Plus, pics from Harrisburg, PA via Roger Baumgartner.

And a reader who prefers anonymity writes from Louisville:

I just got back from the Louisville Tea Party – what a great time. Approximately 1,000 – 1,500 participants, tons of signs, kids, veterans, moms, etc. who braved cold temperatures to express their 1st Amendment rights in downtown Louisville. The speakers were impassioned, educated on the issues, and explicitly non-partisan (“This is NOT a Democrat or Republican thing! This is an American thing!”). Three local news vans on site, and a visit from Newsweek’s Howard Fineman – who came away impressed, I think, by some of the speakers. Our local organizer and her husband are political newbies and did a fantastic job planning the rally – music, speakers, logistics, etc. went off without a hitch. No violence, no political confrontations, just fed-up Kentuckians and Hoosiers venting a little bit.

Yeah, it’s freezing here, too. Where’s my #@#$ global warming when I need it?

Reader Thomas Kubilius reports from Pittsburgh:

I just got back from the Pittsburgh Tea Party Protest in Market Square in Pittsburgh.

I saw 2,000-3,000 of the most well behaved protestors you could imagine. Except for the signs, you’d think it was a charity event. I saw one police officer, and he was just making sure that traffic moved through the square in an orderly fashion. They had Tea Party staff walking the crowd to keep things orderly, but all I saw was a polite, attentive crowd.

A couple of young girls from a hair dresser’s school nearby stopped to heckle for all of 2 minutes. After some shouting back and forth, they moved on. Money says that’s the part that makes the news, as that was the only time I saw anything that looked like a TV camera.

More when I have time. But here’s a pic from Austin, TX courtesy of reader Chris Stacy, who reports: “This is the earlier of two tea parties scheduled in Austin today. I’d put the crowd in excess of 1000.”


MORE ON THE HURRICANE IKE AFTERMATH: Here’s some USGS aerial photography. And here are some pics on hurricane damage at the Galveston Railroad Museum. Plus, here’s a photo slideshow of damage.

Houstonian Steven Selbe emails: “Not to pat ourselves on the back (I’m a Houstonian), but, unlike Katrina, we aren’t standing around asking ‘where’s the government to fix everything.’ I would say power is back to about 50% of the area, gas was short but is getting better. We all helped each other to clean up (there is a lot of big debris to be picked up but we are patient) and now having taken the punch Houston is getting back to work (I have been back at work for 3 days despite no power at home).”

And reader David Whidden writes:

I saw that you linked to an old Galveston Daily News article that a reader sent you, but unfortunately it is already out of date. As this article from yesterday indicates, that media blackout has already been rescinded. It turns out that the mayor was actually just really busy and decided that her time was better spent elsewhere. Compare her actions to Ray Nagin and his hour long interview on NPR – which one was really serving their city more effectively?

Since Monday they’ve already restored water to all of the areas behind the Seawall (an 11 mile stretch) and a phased return will be started next week.

Maybe the reason there isn’t much news out of Galveston is that there is a functional city government down there that is making responsible choices, albeit with an occasional mistake, and doing everything they can to get their city up and going again. Life is going to be rough there for a while, but in comparison to the clowns who were in charge in New Orleans, the people of Galveston have done a remarkable job so far. They aren’t whining about what their problems are, they are just solving the problems. And, if they can solve their problems on their own, why would the press write about that?

Yeah, that’s no fun. Reader Daniel Kauffmann writes:

Regarding the lesser coverage of Ike vs. Katrina:

First note that I am a former New Orleans resident. I left in 1991, in part because it was apparent that in the event of the eventual natural disaster, evacuation would not be possible on the short notice that hurricanes give; in part because of the glaring ineptness of the City of New Orleans to deal with routine crime, civic, and economic needs – much less a major problem; and in part because of the mindset of about half of the New Orleans populace, “I have a problem and you must help me.”

I currently reside in the countryside an hour north of Houston. Many of the folks that I work with commute from Houston or points in between. Most of us have been dealing without power (and water if on a well, such as I). One coworker had a large oak tree come through her roof, another had three large oaks that totally demolished her home. Of the hundred or more persons I’ve spoken to since Ike came through, one, ONLY one, has said anything about FEMA or the government having any responsibility to help.

The difference is that simple, Ike is not newsworthy because there are no clamoring masses demanding assistance (and blaming Bush because it wasn’t here yesterday). Folks hereabouts wear boots. Boots have bootstraps, and we know how to use them. Ike has been awful. We’ve simply chosen to deal with it. We are extremely grateful for any and all assistance, but recognize that it is our problem, not that of others.

And reader Anthony Dye offers a similar explanation for the low-key coverage:

My theory: It’s because the Republican Governor has handled the response fantastically. Yes there are shortages here and there, but he learned lessons from Rita and put them into practice. In other words, the disaster is bad news but the response has been a positive for the people affected, for a Red State, and for the Texas GOP. They’re showing what “compassionate conservatism” was supposed to look like, and nobody in the media wants to make a Republican look good right now.

The view from Austin, TX is that everyone is doing everything humanly possible to help, and largely succeeding in delivering that help – even to the thousands of imbeciles who stayed through the storm and had to be evacuated afterwards.

Imbeciles, indeed.

UPDATE: A pack, not a herd. Reader Brandon Haber writes:

More from a Houston resident – I work for Johnson Space Center. A few other NASA folks put together a list of volunteers and people in need, and down here, lots of people had a foot or more of water in their house. They’ve organized roving bands of 8-12 of us, going around to houses and tearing down walls, removing carpet, cutting down trees, you name it. We’ve probably done more for people than FEMA, all organized on the spur of the moment. My hats off to the rest of the volunteers, and many others like them. I’m new to Houston, and the amazing citizen’s response to Ike has just reaffirmed why I love living here. The damage is staggering, but then, so is the spirit of this great city.

That’s how it should work.

THE WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY, CONTINUED: “I am more than baffled by the current wave of anxiety about adults taking pictures of children in public spaces. . . . The assumption that pictures represent a significant threat to children has acquired a fantasy-like grotesque character. We rarely dare ask the question: what possible harm can come from taking pictures of children playing soccer? Dark hints about the threat of evil networks of pedophiles are sufficient to corrode common sense. Tragically, what the dramatization and criminalization of the act of photographing children reveals is a culture that regards virtually every childhood experience from the standpoint of a pedophile.”

BRITAIN, BIRTHPLACE OF FREEDOM: Home Secretary green lights restrictions on photography.

The letter dated 26 June, which BJP has seen a copy of, is in response to correspondence sent by the Union secretary general, Jeremy Dear, who expressed concern at police surveillance of journalists, in particular photographers.

‘First of all, may I take this opportunity to state that the Government greatly values the importance of the freedom of the press, and as such there is no legal restriction on photography in public places,’ Smith writes. ‘Also, as you will be aware, there is no presumption of privacy for individuals in a public place.’

However, the Home Secretary adds that local restrictions might be enforced. ‘Decisions may be made locally to restrict or monitor photography in reasonable circumstances. That is an operational decision for the officers involved based on the individual circumstances of each situation.

They can photograph you, but they get to decide when you can take photographs.

THE WAR ON PHOTOGRAPHY: Bruce Schneier addresses a subject I’ve covered before — the harassment of people for taking pictures:

Since 9/11, there has been an increasing war on photography. Photographers have been harrassed, questioned, detained, arrested or worse, and declared to be unwelcome. We’ve been repeatedly told to watch out for photographers, especially suspicious ones. Clearly any terrorist is going to first photograph his target, so vigilance is required.

Except that it’s nonsense. The 9/11 terrorists didn’t photograph anything. Nor did the London transport bombers, the Madrid subway bombers, or the liquid bombers arrested in 2006. . . .

Given that real terrorists, and even wannabe terrorists, don’t seem to photograph anything, why is it such pervasive conventional wisdom that terrorists photograph their targets? Why are our fears so great that we have no choice but to be suspicious of any photographer?

Because it’s a movie-plot threat.

Read the whole thing. I’ve got some related thoughts on the subject here. And Schneier is absolutely right about this: “If you’re harassed, it’s almost certainly a law enforcement official, public or private, acting way beyond his authority. There’s nothing in any post-9/11 law that restricts your right to photograph.” Both overreaching security folks and grandstanding civil-liberties activists tend to blame the Patriot Act even when it doesn’t apply, and for the same reasons: It’s complex, poorly understood, and scary.

UPDATE: Check out this amusing video. Via Scott Kelby, who comments: “Fox 5 did a live interview at Union Station with Amtrak’s Chief Spokesman who is talking about how it’s not necessary to have a permit to shoot in Union Station, and while they’re talking, a security guard comes up and makes them stop taping, and says ‘No photographs!’ Priceless!”

Somebody needs to start suing these people. And publishing the names of the security guards. With their photos! I’d say that we also need legislation protecting people’s right to photograph in public places, but it’s not as if the actual law matters here. Maybe something awarding attorneys’ fees so that the trial lawyers will send roaming teams of photographers out to test security guards’ knowledge. . . .

MORE: Bill Hobbs fearlessly fights for freedom by flouting flagrantly foolish photography folderol.

OKAY, THIS IS KIND OF COOL. I emailed the Exposure Manager folks with a question, and got this response:

I saw your D300 mention as I was driving home from the airport and figured I would drop you a note anyway, as it was your D70 review that launched our company 4 years ago. Since then it is has been quite a ride. We currently have over 3,000 photographers that sell through our system, including The Miss USA/Universe organization and the Academy awards. Your initial post definitely set the ball in motion! Thank you again!

I had no idea I had that impact. I should’ve asked for equity . . . .

UPDATE: Reader Robert Rafton emails:

It’s not just exposure manager…I was interested in photography as a kid but started up again solely because you bought a D70. I got one too, and now (a few thousand dollars later and fourteen or fifteen cameras later) I’m into the photography big time. You can see some of my work here and at pbase if you like. I don’t know if it’s your type of thing though.

And yeah, I just bought a d300 and it rocks. Considerably better auto-focus than the D200.

I’m glad you’re not into square-dancing……..

So am I! I particularly like this shot.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Okay, here’s one of mine.

CAMCORDER UPDATE: In response to my earlier request for sites with good camcorder reviews, lots of readers recommended It looks good. For higher-end stuff, people seem to like I’ve poked around both sites a bit and they look pretty useful.

I found this review of a Panasonic HD / flash camera I’ve been looking at (it’s attractively priced) quite helpful. My big barrier has been the limited editing support for AVCHD, but now, “Suddenly, AVCHD doesn’t look so foreboding anymore. Support for viewing and editing is sprouting up on a monthly basis.” Sounds like we’re getting close, anyway. Related earlier post here.

And reader Rich Reilly sends a link to a site focusing on Sony HD. Of course, the convergence between HD and digital still photography would move faster if it weren’t for the EU’s tax policies, which are likely to discourage manufacturers from making equipment with those capabilities, since it will be dutied at a higher rate in Europe.

UPDATE: James Lileks emails:

That Panasonic camcorder you mentioned was the one I ordered from Amazon, a very long time ago. I’ve been looking forward to it for weeks – only to learn today that the vendor is out of stock, and the order was cancelled.

Stop mentioning things I want! It’s hard to concentrate.

Er, sorry. But I like mentioning the things that I want. And, natch, other sensible people will often want them too.

CAN RORY STEWART fix Afghanistan?

DIGITAL CAMERA CARNIVAL, PART THREE: I wasn’t going to do a new installment of this, but people keep sending me stuff! Follow the links for Part One and Part Two if you happened to miss those earlier installments.

Reader Roger Baumgarten emails:

I’m a thrilled owner of the Canon Digital Rebel XT. Have produced amazing pix with this body coupled with the Canon 70-200 f/4L, Tamron 28-75 f/2.8, and my new Canon 85 f/1.8. Here’s a sample gallery, shot hand-held, no flash, ISO 1600!!! The lack of noise at high ISO is astonishing.

For general browsing of my XT photos:

Yes, you get much lower noise at high ISO’s with digital SLRs than with pocket cameras, because of the larger sensor sizes and better noise-reduction circuitry.

Jonathan Gewirtz emails:

Once you get that neat new digital camera you will need to organize and edit the many photos that you will make. The right software makes doing this a lot easier. Photoshop is great, but for quick image adjustments, batch editing and organizing, as well as super-easy photo emailing and other features (slideshow making, print ordering), Google’s Picasa is hard to beat. It’s free, very well designed and the latest version allows you (finally!) to use your own directory hierarchy for organizing images. Because Picasa is so easy to use and doesn’t cost anything it’s worth trying even if you already have photo software that you like.

I’ve been meaning to give it a try. I use Photoshop CS for serious editing, and Photoshop Elements — or, on my laptop, the extremely elderly but still adequate Micrografx Picture Publisher — for lighter duty. I haven’t upgraded to the latest Photoshop Elements though. Maybe I should give Picasa a try. You can’t beat free.

Bill Hobbs emails with a question:

I have a Canon Digital Rebel with a 28-135mm image-stabilized zoom that I absolutely love – although I do crave the higher mega-pixel of the 30D.

My question is: My daughter, age 9, wants to start taking pictures, and I’m not wanting to hang my thousand-dollar camera around her neck, what the best point-and-shoot digital camera under $200 or even under $150?

I’d go with the Ken Rockwell-recommended Canon Powershot A530 — at $149 it hits the under-150 price point, and Rockwell loves it.

Reader Andrew K emails:

I was wondering if you are into scuba at all. If so, any recommendations on a decent digital camera and case for underwater photography (down to recreational limits of about 120 ft.)?

I’m very much into scuba, and I generally rent my cameras from Cathy Church’s underwater photo center. You can see some of the stuff they use here. The pictures — and underwater video — for my Popular Mechanics rebreather piece were taken with the housed Olympus. It worked fine.

You can buy underwater housings — mostly designed for particular cameras — from Ikelite and other companies. I’d recommend renting, though, unless you plan to do a lot of photography over an extended period.

Reader Karen Baker emails:

I have a photoblog called Photos by Seawitch.

I’m including a couple of photos. Both of these were taken with my Nikon D50. I’ve been experimenting with a number of the settings to see what works best when. At my blog, the photos are from my HP Photosmart M407 and the Nikon D50. I switched to the Nikon D50 because I wanted to be able to use telephoto and macro lenses. I don’t have a macro lens yet, but very soon. A lot of my shots are of brown pelicans, least terns, and osprey. There’s also a lot that are of the damage done to my hometown of Gulfport and other cities along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

I created three videos with some of the pictures I’ve taken.

Link This was done at the start of the hurricane season for 2006. It has before, during, and after shots of Hurricane Katrina

Link I did this one to thank all the volunteers, military, local, state, and federal officials, the utility companies, and the police and fire departments.

Link I did this for the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and it shows the progress that has been made.

The photos are a mix from both cameras and each one is set to music. The are between 4 1/2 to just under 5 minutes long.

I hope you’ll consider watching the videos and possibly linking to my photo blog. I realize you must receive many e-mails.

I sure have gotten a lot here! That’s it for this series, though. I’m carnivalled-out!