What to say if the police should stop you for suspected drug possession

Lauren Vazquez advises people about four magic phrases that one must memorize and tell police in that particular order if ever you are stopped by them on suspicion of having marijuana.

If you use pot you are a criminal.

This is true [according to federal authorities] even in Colorado and Washington, where the feds continue to outlaw cannabis. This is also true in California and other states that provide medical protection. This means the police not only have the right, but the obligation to try and stop you (though state police cannot legally enforce federal law). Fortunately, you do not have to help them. The United States Constitution gives you rights that protect you during police encounters. It is the job of the police to find evidence of a crime. It is not your job to confess or help them. They get paid quite well, so please do not do their job for them. Your job is to do and say the right things to protect yourself and defend your rights.
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You can’t repair churches with public funds in New Jersey

We have become used to religious institutions finding ways to get public funding for their purposes, the main one being tax exemptions for their income and property but also in other ways such as setting up charter schools that can get taxpayer money. Politicians know that there is little to lose in pandering to religion and one of the ways is to siphon money in their direction. But some churches in New Jersey went as far as to use public funds to repair their churches. What was astonishing was that a lower court had allowed the practice. But today the New Jersey supreme court ruled unanimously that such spending was unconstitutional.
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Framed for murder by your own DNA

DNA has become the gold standard for evidence in criminal cases. It has a high reputation for accurately identifying people who had some contact with the scene of a crime and results in many convictions since jurors give great weight to DNA evidence. According to Katie Worth, a “2008 series of studies by researchers at the University of Nevada, Yale and Claremont McKenna College found that jurors rated DNA evidence as 95 percent accurate and 94 percent persuasive of a suspect’s guilt.”
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Thomas Jefferson on the separation of church and state

Via reader Greg, I read this article by Lathan Watts who’s bio states that he is “director of community relations for First Liberty Institute, a nationwide religious liberty law firm dedicated to protecting religious liberty for all.” That alone set off alarm bells in my mind because the phrase ‘religious liberty’ is now the sword brandished by those who would seek to have Christianity be everywhere in the public square. I have a similar reaction when an organization has ‘family’ or ‘values’ in its name, because that is a pretty good indicator that it is a bigoted right-wing group.
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John Oliver on immigration courts

He takes a close look at the scandalous state of the immigration court system where justice is at the bottom of their priorities. Not providing even two-year old children with legal representation is just one of the many problems.

I had no idea that there are so many daytime TV shows that feature courtroom cases for the purposes of entertainment, as he shows in the introduction.

Prosecutors need to be held accountable for their abuses

Yesterday, I wrote about the case where the Pulse nightclub shooter’s wife Noor Salman was acquitted of all charges, despite the determined efforts of prosecutors to make life as difficult as possible for her and coerce a confession. Fortunately for her, the jury overcame the ‘scary Muslim terrorist’ fear-mongering and cleared her. But as Shaun King reminds us, many people do not escape the heavy hand of prosecutors seeking conviction at all costs and gives the case of Natalie Pollard, where she took a plea deal just to avoid being badgered by the legal system.
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But can’t you see? Your prayers have not worked!

Thanks to a blog post by a skeptic in a nearby city who goes by the pseudonym Rev. El Mundo, I heard about a school district fairly close by where they used to have prayers, this time before school athletic events. Of course, they had to have known that such prayers are unconstitutional but school administrators tend to pander to the needs of the local community and hope no one notices that they are violating the constitution. They only stopped when they received a letter from the Freedom From Religion Foundation to stop the prayers or face a legal challenge.
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Score another win for Satan

The Satanic Temple, in the front lines against the intrusion of Christian dogmatic beliefs into public life, has won a skirmish in the fight to defend women’s rights when they challenged the state of Missouri after they passed a law that forced women seeking abortions to listen to an ultrasound. The Temple was suing the state on behalf of a member of the Temple.
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The tilted scales of justice

Two stories in The Intercept illustrate well how skewed the justice system is in the US.

In the first case, Shaun King writes about a man, clearly inflamed and influenced by Donald Trump’s attacks on the media and in particular at CNN, who phoned in multiple deaths threats to that network.

EARLY TUESDAY MORNING, we learned that Brandon Griesemer, a 19-year-old grocery store clerk from Novi, Michigan, made at least 22 calls to CNN’s Atlanta headquarters where he not only threatened to shoot and kill employees, but used racial and ethnic slurs for both African-Americans and Jews. The calls were made two weeks ago, and Griesemer was charged last Friday.

This was not Griesemer’s first rodeo. On September 19, he was reported to have made similarly ugly calls to an Islamic center in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Brandon Griesemer is a bigot.
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