05 June 2010


MIRANDA. This week has seen a major reversal for civil rights as reflected by US Supreme Court rulings. As Jayne Lyn Stahl reports, "law enforcement can now interrogate a suspect aggressively without informing him of his Miranda right to remain silent." In order to exercise that right, a suspect must break his silence in order to inform the police that he wishes to remain silent. Assuming, of course, that he is (a) aware of that right in the first place, and (b) is not so intimidated or distraught over being detained that he may fail to even remember his rights under law. (see image above, click to enlarge)

In a further assault, SCOTUS rules that "the Miranda right to speak with counsel now comes with an expiration date. A suspect now has the right to counsel within 14 days of his arrest." Wait, what's that tremor? Could it be the Spanish Inquisition just around the corner? I'm inclined more and more to agree with Stahl's suggestion that perhaps it is time for SCOTUS Justices to face term limits. In the meantime, all citizens would do well to research not only their rights under the law, but also to research the best local attorney .... just in case.

RFK. On this day in 1968, Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in California, terminating what would have been a successful campaign for the Democatic nomination for the US Presidential election later that year. His killer was an anti-Zionist named Sirhan Sirhan, but there were many others who wanted Kennedy out of the picture, due to his firm views toward ending the Vietnam War, and toward further strengthening civil rights protection and pursuing social justice. As is true for the assassinations of Bobby' brother, John F. Kennedy, and of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., one can only wonder how much better the world would be if these three shining lights had not been so violently, so prematurely extinguished.

THE WORMHOLE. One of my favorite PBS shows is Charlie Rose -- his interviews with well-known thinkers, politicians, entertainers, scientists, and writers are always erudite, penetrating and evocative. I chanced upon an interview with actor Morgan Freeman, an intelligent and articulate man who is hosting a new Science Channel program called Through The Wormhole, an exploration of fundamental existential questions -- who we are, where we came from, how the universe came into existence. The program aspires to use hard evidence rather than philosophical theory to shed light on answers to these and other questions.

I like the analogy of a wormhole, a shortcut through the topology of spacetime, one whose existence is supported by relativity theory. It is a concept which is puzzling and counterintuitive at first, but (as with black holes and dark matter) inferential evidence exists to support the idea. Alas, since I don't have cable, I'll have to hope that the program becomes available on DVD. Or perhaps through a wormhole.

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