In California, the question of whether a member of a jury can be excluded due to his or her sexual orientation has come up; the stock market cheats the middle class; meanwhile, videos have been released showing Iran’s involvement in training Syrian soldiers. These discoveries and more below.

On a regular basis, Truthdig brings you the news items and odds and ends that have found their way to Larry Gross, director of the USC Annenberg School for Communication. A specialist in media and culture, art and communication, visual communication and media portrayals of minorities, Gross helped found the field of gay and lesbian studies.

San Juan Capistrano Bans Flip-Flops At Park When Jenna Burgdorf sat at a picnic table enjoying San Juan Capistrano’s new dog park recently, the 20-year-old had no idea she was violating park rules regarding footwear.

The Nathan Hecht Story: Conservatives Capturing Courts A trivia question for those who fancy themselves experts on the George W. Bush era: Who is Nathan Hecht? No Googling!

The World’s Tallest Vertical Garden Is Like a Niagara Falls of Plants Patrick Blanc is a French botanist who loves plants so much he’s dyed his hair green.

Industry Puppets Spew Obscene Lies While People Drown As Colorado endures a slow-motion disaster, so-called “regulators” are in total denial — while lives are at stake.

Can Being Gay Get You Out of Jury Duty? In the middle of marriage equality’s ascendance to inevitability, it’s often forgotten that relationship rights are only the start of gay people’s full integration into American society.

If the Stock Market is So Great, Why Is Michael Dell Taking His Company Private? The stock market is a giant rip-off of middle-class investors.

Israeli Supreme Court Rules For Democracy Monday, Sept. 16, was a historic day for Israel’s democracy and respect for human rights.

Assisted Suicide Apparently, Stephen Hawking has come out in favor of assisted suicide—but only for “those who have a terminal illness and are in great pain.”

Humanitarian Murder This past Sunday night on “60 Minutes” John Miller of CBS News said, “I’ve spoken with intelligence analysts who have said an uncomfortable thing that has a ring of truth, which is: the longer this war in Syria goes on, in some sense the better off we are.”

Videos Show Iranian Officers Supervising Syrian Soldiers Videos published online seem to show Iranian military officers working with soldiers from Syria’s regular army, giving them advice and instructions for combat.

Religion Without God Last week Pope Francis, who is on something of a roll, assured atheists that they could get into heaven.

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