No puppets in Tampa

Just the ones on stage! Of course, convention-goers will still be permitted to carry actual weapons onto the convention floor — but no puppets in the street, damn it!

TAMPA, Fla. (CBS Tampa/AP) — While puppets have been a feature of the political landscape at conventions and large-scale demonstrations for decades, officials have effectively banned them for the Republican National Convention in Tampa.

The Tampa Bay Times reports that the city has essentially declared puppets’ components illegal in the RNC event zone, which covers most of the downtown area.

“Their components are not allowed inside the event zone,” Andrea Davis, spokesperson for the Tampa Police Department, told the Tampa Bay Times. “Also their heads have been used to hide weapons and other matter, fecal matter.”

No sticks, strings or masks allowed — therefore, no puppets.

Puppet protesters call it a “suppression of civil liberties.”

“I understand that the people proposing limitations may mean well and their genuine concern may be safety,” Tracy Boyles, executive director of Spiral Q Puppet Theater in Philadelphia, told the Tampa Bay Times. “But if we try to limit our civil liberties and freedom of expression because of the acts of a few, then we’re really not free.”


Honestly, anyone who still thinks DHS wasn’t monitoring the Occupy protests is just too silly to live. Once you have a full-scale operation that’s supposed to monitor threats, they’re going to look at everything – because they’re paranoid they’re going to miss something. This is particularly amusing that they tried to push back on “inaccuracies” that were, in fact, true:

Senior Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials debated whether they should pressure award-winning reporter Rolling Stone reporter Michael Hastings to “pull down” a report he published on the magazine’s web site about the agency’s role in monitoring Occupy Wall Street (OWS), claiming it was riddled with “inaccuracies,” according to hundreds of pages of internal DHS emails related to OWS Truthout obtained under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request we filed last October.

But it wasn’t Hastings’ February 28 report that was incorrect. Rather, it was an unauthorized five-page internal report prepared last October by DHS employees, who acted “outside the scope of their authority” and violated “privacy standards,” according to the emails, about the potential threat posed by OWS that was flawed. The internal report strongly suggested DHS had been mining social media, such as OWS’s Twitter feeds, for intelligence on the protest movement.

That document, which Hastings had accurately represented in his story, formed the basis for his Rolling Stone story. It was found in more than 5 million hacked emails from private intelligence firm Stratfor that Wikileaks released earlier this year. Hastings obtained the internal report from WikiLeaks, which entered into an investigative partnership with Rolling Stone.

It was Hastings’ characterization of the internal report that struck a nerve with top officials at DHS, who spent two days discussing how they should publicly respond to it, according to the heavily redacted emails.

My cherie amour

Every time I hear this Stevie Wonder song, I think of summer and the gang of friends with whom I’d go driving around in Florence’s 1969 white Ford Maverick:

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